If you find yourself in Jamaica for the day in port on your Caribbean cruise, it would be easy to just stay on the ship, but I could never do that, as I am a shopper.
If there’s a shopping opportunity, I’m going to take it. But believe me, I am super fussy. Sure, there’s any amount of ‘made in China’ styled souvenirs at every port ( and I ALWAYS buy myself a magnet or two) but there are some wonderful treasures to be had that are going to bring a smile to your face when you use or consume them when you return home. With the relatively new gated port shopping area, there is no reason not to take a look around.
The first obvious one is rum… seriously… if you like a drink now and then, why would you NOT buy some rum from the land of the Pirates who traded/marinated in it? Captain Morgan – named presumably after the infamous pirate – is well represented here and for very few pieces of eight, you can take a little of the Caribbean home with you. (Do check your ships requirements on purchased alcohol though – they do vary, but generally, if it’s under the volume limit, you will be allowed to buy it and surrender it at the dock to be collected on your disembarkation day).
I also urge you to try out the free samples to see which one goes down the smoothest. For me, it was the rum crème… like Tia Maria liquor… but with rum… and pineapple… and coconut… and mango… and such other delights. So very tasty. Do yourself a flavour.
Another thing I discovered which I purchased as a gift and then kept for myself was a hand hewn bowl made from cinnamon wood and coconut husks. I love it… and in the end, couldn’t give up this aromatic wonder. Because it had been prepared for export, I didn’t have a problem taking home. This may not be the case with other wooden items that are plentiful here so check your country’s customs rules before leaving home and save yourself the heartache surrendering it entirely.
Another authentic must have if you enjoy a coffee, is the famous Blue Mountain Coffee. Grown in the highlands, in the cleanest air and rich volcanic soil, the taste is smooth, full bodied and much sought after. While not inexpensive, it is also worth every penny. Again, packaged for export, this is a wonderful gift for yourself or others that is hard to come by elsewhere. Make sure though, that you buy direct from their store at the port (or perhaps a tour to the growing region), to ensure it is the real deal.
Jamaica is also a great place to buy the famous Tortuga Rum Cakes. Wonderfully light buttery cake doused in flavoured rum…. What’s not to love? I found a greater variety of sizes and flavours here than at other ports and it is also packaged ready for export, so indulge in this treasure that is authentically Caribbean because the taste is superb.
And lastly, find yourself some authentic jerk chicken spices to take home and relive the flavours. The combination is unique to the region, is balanced to perfection and packaged for export so if you like it spicy, then this needs to be in your suitcase for the trip home. You will easily find this bottled (as a paste) or dry (as a rub) in the shops at the port.
Just a few of my favourites but there is so very much more to discover on a day in Jamaica.
A word of caution though, while the port area is safe to wander and shop, outside the gated area is not recommended to wander without being part of a tour or private car transportation. As spectacularly beautiful as the country is, violent crime is an all too frequent reality here. Smart Traveller advice is to use a high degree of caution when travelling in Jamaica. Shop within the port area – which is substantial – and you will enjoy your visit here.