On this escorted group tour, go beyond the all-inclusive resorts and the famous white sand beaches to experience the real Jamaica. Travel to the interior of the island, through the Blue Mountains, to see rivers and waterfalls, lush vegetation, and remote beach locations. Discover the history and culture of this fascinating island with West African and British influences. Learn about famous Jamaicans including Bob Marley and Usain Bolt. Eat authentic Jamaican food and interact with locals. Tour a coffee plantation, a rum factory, and potentially meet with a small-scale farmer. On a visit to an NGO, hear about the incredible work a physical therapist is doing with people in need. Also meet and worship with Jamaican Mennonites. Tour leaders Lonnie Yoder & Teresa Boshart Yoder are excited to show you the country they fell in love with while working and living in Jamaica. If you have travelled on our Tanzania or Cuba tours, you may enjoy this cultural adventure.
Jamaica: History, People and Culture Tour
Monday, January 9 Montego Bay
Arrive at Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay. As Jamaica’s 4th largest city, Montego Bay, sometimes called “The Second City”, is home to the majority of the island’s tourism industry. Enjoy dinner with your fellow travelers. During free time in the evening, explore the crystal-clear turquoise waters of Doctor’s Cave Beach.
Tuesday, January 10 Treasure Beach
Enjoy a leisurely morning, perhaps returning to the beach for a sunrise walk. Mid-morning, we will drive away from the North Coast through several mountain ranges as we travel to the South Coast. Enjoy the sights and sounds of rural Jamaica along the way. Our destination for the day is Treasure Beach, which is made up of four southern coves, and their respective settlements—Billy’s Bay, Frenchman’s Bay, Calabash Bay and Great Pedro Bay. In the afternoon before we arrive at Treasure Beach, we’ll take a Black River Safari boat tour. While we cruise Jamaica’s longest river, keep your eyes open for crocodiles and red mangrove trees. The river is also home to more than 100 species of birds. Later check into our hotel, from which you can explore the coves. This evening, during a presentation from the Breds Treasure Beach Foundation, learn about this nonprofit’s work to promote education, sports, cultural heritage & emergency healthcare in Treasure Beach.
Wednesday, January 11 Treasure Beach
On today’s adventure, we travel into the interior of the island to the Appleton Rum Estate, one of the oldest and most famous sugarcane estates in all of Jamaica. Enjoy a guided tour of the sugarcane fields and learn about the history of rum making. At lunchtime, we’ll go to YS falls to see lush gardens, trails, and scenic waterfalls. Walk the trails, relax near the falls, or take a ride on the canopy zipline if you dare. Return to Treasure Beach for the night.
Thursday, January 12 Kingston
In rural Ridge District, along the south coast near the regional shopping town of Junction, we’ll visit the grounds of the former Maranatha School for the Deaf (a project of the Jamaica Mennonite Church). The grounds, which offer an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea, are now the centre of a medical ministry providing physical therapy services to area residents. On a walk through the community surrounding the school grounds, we hope to interact with local residents including a small-scale farmer or two. After lunch in Junction, we’ll travel to Kingston, the capital city of Jamaica. If time permits, we may stop at Joyland Mennonite Church, a rural congregation resting along the spine of the Santa Cruz mountain range.
Friday, January 13 Kingston
Today we will drive to the grand ridge of the Blue Mountains. Explore hiking trails and see beautiful scenery. On a coffee plantation tour, learn why Jamaican coffee is one of the best and most expensive in the world. Jamaican coffee is grown on the mist-capped Blue Mountain range, which towers 7,402 feet high. Blue Mountain coffee has been grown in Jamaica since 1728 when coffee was first introduced to the island. Then return to Kingston for the night.
Saturday, January 14 Ocho Rios
As we tour the former home of Bob Marley, learn about the reggae legend’s contributions to music and culture, as well as the Tuff Gong record label. Established by Bob Marley’s band, The Wailers in 1970, Tuff Gong became the launching pad for their famous music. Later, step further back in time to 1880 when we visit the Devon House. This iconic landmark was built by Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel. It endures today as another cultural legacy of a successful Jamaican. In the afternoon, travel to Ocho Rios (Spanish for 8 Rivers), a port town on the north coast. Time permitting, we’ll shop at a craft market to see the work of local artisans. Until the 1960s, Ocho Rios was a small fishing village. Since that time, it has been redeveloped into a thriving port and popular vacation destination with music venues, restaurants, and shopping.
Sunday, January 15 Montego Bay
This morning, worship with locals at the Ocho Rios Mennonite Church, followed by lunch with the congregation. In the afternoon we will drive through Fern Gully—a winding scenic road through a canopy of lush ferns. Under the cover of this shady, natural tunnel it’s almost 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding area. This peaceful roadway, with more than 500 species of ferns, has inspired a century of poetry, botanical studies, and academic writing. Return to Montego Bay for the evening.
Monday, January 16 Montego Bay
The day is yours to relax and explore in the Second City. In the morning, you could browse hand-made creations and talk to Jamaican artisans at a craft market. In the afternoon, hit the beach for a refreshing dip or to lounge on the sand. Enjoy your final evening in Jamaica.
Tuesday, January 17
Say goodbye to the island and your fellow travelers as you return home with memories of your meaningful experiences.
For further information, please contact us. We would be happy to be of assistance.
Click here for a printable PDF of the tour itinerary and costs.