Venturing out into Jamaica

A 21/2-hour combo. The first part is a standard trail ride aboard gentle and healthy-looking horses (not a given in the tropics) through what once was a sugar plantation, with stops for eco-explanations.

The highlight, undeniably, is Part 2, when riders change clothing and horses and are led from the property's private beach into the Caribbean. For those of you who have never ridden a horse into the Caribbean, where it's deep enough that the horses actually are swimming — and I suspect that's many of you — here's what it's like: kind of weird. Nonswimmers might think twice, though staff is never far.

The cost: $79, including transportation from most hotels. (Costs for cruise ship excursions may differ.) chukkacaribbean.com

Cool Runnings Dunn's River Falls and Catamaran Cruise

The cruise, which includes a stop for middling-quality snorkeling, is a prelude to the drinking, dancing and party boat merriment found just about everywhere tourists gather near saltwater. Only the music changes, though Jamaican music is particularly bounce-inducing.

This program combines that with a visit to (and an optional slippery climb along) Dunn's River Falls, which in Jamaica is as inevitable as Old Faithful is to Yellowstone but without the sulfur. It's especially fun to use the steps alongside the falls to take photos of climbers who obviously would much rather be back on the boat, fueling up for bouncing.

The cost: $80 (less for kids). coolrunningscatamarans.com

Mystic Mountain

This is essentially a theme park set in a thickly rain-forested mountain above Ocho Rios, though that description makes it sound tackier than it really is.

Here, in one stop within easy ship-excursion range of Ocho Rios, can be found a butterfly garden, a water slide and infinity pool, a zip-line experience, a sky-lift ride above the trees and a bobsled ride.

The bobsled is a hoot.

Riders are strapped in and shuttled to a launch point — and only then, boys and girls, do you discover you're in your own private roller coaster. You can control the speed — somewhat — but the instant you understand that the sleds really aren't going to jump the tracks and send you slamming into a mahogany tree (or worse, a zip-liner), you just let it go and hang on.

Remember the sensation the Jamaican bobsledders were in Olympic Games past? Well, this will jog your memory while jostling your innards.

The cost: $68.20 (includes sky-lift ride). rainforestadventure.com

ctc-travel@tribune.com