I definitely would NOT recommend doing anything on your own in Ocho Rios. Stay with an organized group there. Grand Cayman, my favorite beach is 7 mile beach, but others have posted it's too crowded for them. I never found that to be the case, but I guess it depends on how many ships are in port with you. Best wishes!
Grand Cayman is our favorite port, we have also stayed on the island for a week when you tender over and get off at the port there will be sidewalks with all the downtown shops. Across the street from the Harley Davidson street (just a little further down) is a little grass hut some outdoor lockers and a small cafe. This is a great place to snorkel . We take our own equipment, but you can rent for about 6 dollars and then rent a locker to keep your things in . The same locals have been running this for the seven years we have been going , we just wear our swimsuit off the ship with cover up and water shoes. there are some steps to get right in the ocean the amount and variety you will see is great. Plus you do not have to get crowded onto a boat with a lot of strangers, go at your own pace. We have seen several large stingrays, which satisfied my desire for that, I have never desired to go there even with all the rave reviews. We have seen sea turtles before on 7 mile beach and also found some pretty shells, however we were not there during cruise ship days. :You will see several large baracuddas can be scary but they are tame just don't snorkel with jewelry on that they might mistake for small fish. The public bus system is safe and cheap Rum Point is quiet and pretty more like a lagoon than a beach because of the location The people are friendly and the island has a very low crime rate. Hell is definetly overrated, and the turtle farm is not how I would choose to spend the one day in port. In Ocho Rios Dunn River Falls is great to see once take you own water shoes I would not want to rent . Because of back and knee problems we did not climb the falls instead climbed the stairs the go beside them . We do not get off the ship in Ochos Rios anymore it is not safe. Drugs are rampant.
I would recommend taking a cab (prices negotible there) to Dunns River Falls (You can probably pull it up on line to see it) they have lockers there for rent, take your own WalMart water shoes, towel, waterproof disp. camera) Buy your ticket there. Very inexpensive, a blast to do! Drugs rampant in the city near the port--however, they would only try to offer it to our teens- not us old folks!
Grand Cayman- nice shops near port. We did the sub excursion- would not recommend it. Those who had signed up for the stingray exc. got cancelled due to rough seas that day (which really didn't seem bad to us)
I agree with Penny. Do not venture off on your own in Jamaica. It's unsafe. I also concur with cousins on Dunns River Falls. It's one of the wonders of the world, and should be experienced once in your lifetime. Be warned, if you do the falls, be prepared for the locals selling you their wares upon exiting the park. Have a safe, fun cruise and welcome to cruise chat. A'ndrea
Ocho Rios as stated is not a place to venture on your own. You'll realize it the minute you step off the ship and are mobbed by the locals. They are very aggressive, even on the pier. Don't carry large amounts of cash or anything that may be percieved as very valuable. Leave the Rolex in the safe or at home.
The falls is fine... once. After you try getting out of there at the end you'll be so happy to get back to the ship. I got lost in the mob in that market the first time there. Paid a local $20. to point me to the exit and to the ship. Would have paid $200. to get out of there.
What a shame that one of the most beautiful islands in the world is so poverty stricken and corrupt you can't enjoy visiting without a hassle.
Oh, I forgot! While at Grand Cayman don't miss Stingray City. One other pretty cool thing is to send friend and family your post cards from an area there called "Hell" for the lava formations. There is a post office there and they'll be post marked from Hell.
Neil, I do have to agree with you that the first time we looked out at Jamaica from our ship, I thought, this is God's country. The beautiful mountainous ranges were glorious. Once we were met by our private tour guide and we left Montego Bay for Ochos Rios, I couldn't believe the poverty and despair. A completely different scenario. My husband and I wondered how a country rich with tourism and so much possibility cannot make advancements. It is very sad to see. A'ndrea
In Ocho Rios either stay on the ship or walk down the pier to Margaritaville, get some drinks and use the pool or use the beach for a few bucks. The Dunns river falls is fun too and you'll have plenty of time to do both. I have done other excursions in Jamaica from this port and cannot reccommend any of them.
In Georgetown, Grand Cayman, I'd avoid 7 mile beach, too crowded and touristy, hotels everywhere. I'd go to Rum Point. There is a ferry that will take you there quicker than a cab and will be much less expensive. Just ask a local when you get off the ship. And though I've not been, Stingray City is supposed to be really great. Some of our friends said that it was the highlight of thier cruise.