Falmouth, capital of the parish of Trelawny, is a small historic town on the north coast of Jamaica that has recently been redeveloped as a major cruise terminal. Falmouth effectively blends old and new — the historic buildings are worth a visit, although the town is now dominated by the new cruise terminal and much of the trade is directed at disembarking passengers. We discover the best things to see and do in Falmouth, Jamaica.
Rafting on the Martha Brae River
A short journey inland from Falmouth is the village of Martha Brae which was briefly the parish seat in the late 1700s and which sits on the Martha Brae River. Bamboo rafts operate from the village, taking visitors on a leisurely three-mile journey downstream to Martha’s Rest. The journey takes approximately 60-90 minutes passing through thickly vegetated forest/jungle. It’s a scenic and peaceful experience and the rafters make friendly and knowledgeable company. Afterwards, there’s a truck to take people back upstream to their cars, otherwise taxis can be taken onwards. The tours are available all day as there is an abundance of rafters.
Falmouth, with its deep water port, grew up as a trading town for the sugar industry and as such was once very wealthy. The historic buildings are today a faded reminder that this was once a significant Georgian town. It is possible to walk around the town and visit a number of the old buildings alone or as part of a guided walking tour. A highlight is the Baptist Manse, built as a masonic temple in 1798 but later converted to a Baptist Church. The Albert George Market was built in 1894 as a permanent home for the town market and named after the two children of Queen Victoria — the clock tower atop the market is a major local landmark. Constructed in 1815, the Palladian-fronted courthouse faces the sea in a grand tribute to the former significance of this trading port and is a fine example of the style. Vermont House, now the post office, is one of the finest examples of a merchant trader’s house in Falmouth and probably the most famous of Falmouth’s historic buildings of interest. It is well worth getting away from the cruise port area to experience historic Falmouth.
Glistening Waters Lagoon
The lagoon, surrounded by mangroves, contains one of the greatest concentrations of bio-luminescent microorganisms in the world. After dark, when the water is disturbed, it appears to glow with an eerie phosphorescence. This is truly a natural wonder and well worth making the effort to see. Visitors are taken in small boats out into the lagoon — dragging a hand in the water creates a magical natural light show. Boat trips last approximately 35 minutes, and it is even possible to swim in the water. After the boat ride, there is a waterside restaurant and bar from where it is possible to watch the glowing waters while enjoying a meal or drink.
Glistening Waters Restaurant and Marina, Falmouth, Jamaica +1 876 954 3229
Hampden Estate Rum Tour
Hampden Estate is one of the oldest rum estates in Jamaica having being founded in 1753. They still use the original process to create their rum. The rum produced here would certainly have been exported through Falmouth which is just 15km to the north. In fact, at one point Hampden even built the wharf at Falmouth. The tours are a great way to learn about the history of the region and of course, the rum! The tours last about two hours each and are held every Monday to Friday at 10am and 11am. They are, however, for over 18s only.
Hampden Estate, Trelawny, Jamaica +1 876 482 4632
Beware — trespassers will be eaten! The Jamaica Swamp Safari Village was originally established as a crocodile farm in 1969 but quickly included other species such as alligators, pythons and even lions. Movie fans will be interested to know that the location featured in the Bond movie Live and Let Die and that the original owner acted as Roger Moore’s stunt double. Open every day, guided tours take approximately 75 minutes and involve monkeys, iguanas, exotic birds and snakes. The highlight is definitely the crocodiles — watch as the handler calls and feeds them. Afterwards, enjoy the gift shop, restaurant and bar. This is an unusual but enjoyable Jamaican attraction.