Exploring the emerald isle of Jamaica as a cruise destination is a magical experience that leaves visitors in awe of the nature, culture and sheer friendliness of the locals. What better way to keep those memories alive than to bring a bit of Jamaica back home with you to share with friends and family? In the cruise ship port of Montego Bay, you have plenty of time to shop for a wide variety of Jamaican gifts before you get back onboard. Here are 10 wonderful one-of-a-kind gifts that you can pick up along the Hip Strip at the shopping center before you go.
1. Jamaican Coffee
One of the most celebrated coffees in the world, Jamaica’s coffee is known for its lack of bitterness and robust, full-bodied flavor notes. Jamaica’s most popular coffee is grown in the Blue Mountains, which run down the center of this island nation and are the tallest mountains in the entire Caribbean. This coffee is a must-have if you want to wow coffee lovers back home. The coffee is certified by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica, so when shopping for it as a souvenir, be sure it carries this identifying mark.
2. Local Paintings
As you wander the downtown area of Montego Bay, you will see a wide variety of extremely colorful and talented oil paintings for sale in both shops and right on the street. These paintings roll up nicely and can be tucked into a backpack or suitcase quite easily until you get home and put them up on the wall. From scenes of village life to the bright sunsets over the turquoise sea, a local painting from Jamaica makes a great gift for a loved one or a personal souvenir to last a lifetime.
3. Hot Sauce
Shopping in Montego Bay can be a pretty spicy experience as the huge selection of different local hot sauces will blow the mind of even the most avid chile pepper fanatic. Usually made with the Jamaican Scotch Bonnet, which is considered one of the hottest chile peppers in the world, these sauces will add fire and flavor to every dish you use them on. For something a bit more mild that might work better as souvenirs for your more chilled out buddies, look for hot sauces made with fruits like mango and banana, which generally have much lower heat factors.
4. Coconut Wine Glasses
Visit any craft vendor in Montego Bay and you are sure to encounter the popular Jamaican souvenir known as the coconut wine glass. Lightweight, portable and extremely useful as stand-ins for regular wine glasses back home, these handmade items are crafted from real coconut shells and will add a touch of the tropics to any kitchen cabinet.
5. Jerk Spice Rubs
Sampling the various jerk-cooked dishes in Jamaica is one of the highlights of visiting the island, so it’s only natural that you would want to take some of the deliciousness home as gifts for friends. Made from allspice and Scotch Bonnet Peppers, as well as spices like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, Jerk Spice rubs are used similarly to marinades on meats and in soups to add bold flavor and lots of heat. Use them wisely!
6. Wood Carvings
The carving of local woods like mahogany and cedar into everything from furniture to elaborate sculptures is a national tradition in Jamaica. These pieces of locally made art are some of the best souvenirs you can take home from the island, and the shops around the port area of Montego Bay offer the top selection in the entire country. Perfect for adding detail to the home or garden, Jamaican wood carvings are a must-have home item from any cruise vacation to Jamaica.
7. Jamaican Rum
The cruise destination of Jamaica is famous all over the world for its high-quality rum, an alcoholic beverage distilled from the sugar canes cultivated all over the island. From the white rums used in spiritual traditions to coconut or other fruit-flavored rums that add an extra boost to cocktails, Jamaica produces an astonishingly large variety of different rums, many of which are available for sale near the ship port in downtown Montego Bay. For those looking for a gift from Jamaica that really will impress the folks back home, look into the 30- and 50-year aged rums from the estate rum makers on the island.
8. Leather Sandals
Another local craft item that is both useful and looks downright cool are leather sandals, available at gift shops and craft booths all over Montego Bay. Made from all-natural materials, these make great gifts for young and old friends back home and pack up quite nicely in your luggage.
9. Straw Hats
Made from the leaves of the palm trees that are so abundant on the island of Jamaica, straw hats are a local form of handmade origami that are stylish and functional at the same time. Both the perfect souvenir from your cruise, as well as a great way to keep the blazing tropical sun off your face and neck, Jamaican straw hats are easy to find all over Montego Bay and come in a wide variety of different styles and prices.
10. Jamaican Dolls
A great gift for any kid back home, Jamaican dolls are a traditional play toy found in most craft shops in Montego Bay. Made from soft spongy material or hard plastic, they usually sport traditional Jamaican clothing and hairstyles and will add some flair to any child’s toy box.