10. Rafting the Martha Brae River
Rafting The Martha Brae, Trelawny, Jamaica
The Martha Brae River, a 20-mile (32-kilometer) stretch of turquoise water winds through Jamaica’s tropical inland rain forests. It is an essential stop for nature lovers traveling through the Caribbean island and a stopover for a quick rafting trip. The river’s prime location near other natural attractions, and its diversity of wildlife makes it a worthwhile addition to any Jamaican vacation.
Enjoy a peaceful and tranquil 90-minute ride on a bamboo raft down the Martha Brae River located in Falmouth, Jamaica. The captain will steer you three miles down the legendary river stopping short of connecting to the Caribbean Sea. Along the way, listen to sounds of nature - listen to the humming birds and bask in the ambience of the tropical vegetation all around. This is an experience that will rejuvenate the soul and refresh your mind.
The embarkation area, “Rafter’s Village”, encompasses six acres of well-manicured lawns situated on a natural horseshoe island. It offers a recreational facility which includes picnic grounds, a full service bar, two souvenir shops, swimming pool and modern restrooms. Guests can also take a stroll through “Miss Martha’s Herb Garden”, a presentation of Jamaica’s herbs famous for their medicinal and healing properties.
9. The James Bond Beach
The James Bond Beach, St. Mary, Jamaica
Located in the Parish of St Mary on Jamaica’s north coast, about 20 minutes East of Ocho Rios, are the crystal clear waters of James Bond Beach. The beach is not only famous for its name, but also for it's fresh fish, seafood and breathtaking scenery. It’s called James Bond beach because the author Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novels here. There’s a hotel, once Mr. Fleming's mansion, called Golden Eye near this beach where he wrote the books.
There’s an admission cost of $350 JMD per person to get into the beach. Amenities include changing and shower facility; a restaurant and bar called MoonRaker that serves up freshly caught fish!
8. The Hope Botanical Gardens
The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kingston, Jamaica
The Royal Botanical Gardens, commonly called "Hope Gardens," occupies 200 acres of land in the Ligunaea Plains of urban St Andrew. The gardens were established in 1873 on a section of land, from the estate of Major Richard Hope, one of the original English colonisers who arrived with the invading force of Penn and Venables. Today the gardens are the largest public green space in the Kingston metropolitan region, and are home to Jamaica's most popular collection of endemic and exotic botanical collections. Of particular interest is the Cassia siamea grove by the main entrance, planted in 1907; and the other mini-gardens within the park. These mini-gardens are notably the cacti garden, with its rare varieties; the bougainvillea walk with its magnificent explosions of tropical colours; the annual gardens, with numerous species of exotic flowers; the sunken gardens and the lily pond.
The Hope Gardens are famous for their many rare and beautiful species of tropical plants and trees. These include the Hibiscus elatus (blue mahoe), the national tree of Jamaica. Blue mahoe is a small spreading tree with flowers that open in primrose colour in the morning and change to orange and deep red as the day advances.
While there, do visit the amphitheatre, where the Honorable "Miss Lou," Louise Bennett-Coverly, a famous Jamaican folklorist, poet and storyteller, used to hold Saturday morning tapings of her famous TV show, Ring Ding. The Hope Gardens occasionally hosts concerts by the Jamaica Military Band and poetry readings.
7. The Blue Mountains, St. Andrew, St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary
A Home in the Blue Mountains, Jamaica
The Blue Mountains form the longest mountain range along the eastern edge of Jamaica and features majestic scenery. Many people hike or bike through the mountains to witness first-hand nature at its finest. This under-explored area is also the source of the world famous and fragrant Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.
The ride up to the Blue Mountains is an interesting one. The roads are narrow, winding and unmarked, but it is definitely worth it as the mountain views are beautiful and a joy to behold. The Blue Mountains is home to quaint villages and the locals that live in the mountains are very friendly.
There are hiking trails for varying skill levels. Short trails are suited for those who would rather a nice easy stroll among the flora and fauna, and longer trails for those who like to be more challenged. You can opt to do a night hike. It is a lot more quiet, completely dark except for your flashlights, and very serene and peaceful. Plan your hike to make it to the top in time to witness a breathtaking sunrise. Once you arrive at the peak you realize the journey was worth it. This attraction is not for everyone. You don’t have to be active to complete this tour, but, be prepared to walk for about 3 to 4 hours to reach to the peak. You will also have to be able to make the trip back down. Less experienced hikers should hire a guide or join a group tour that lead them to the top.
If you want to see the sunrise you could hike from Mavis Bank the evening before and stay at one of the lodges overnight. Then set out around 6:00am for a picnic. The Blue Mountain Inn is a good option for dinner as the setting is picturesque and the food is incredible.
The Blue Mountains also boasts coffee plantation tours where visitors get to see how coffee beans are gathered and processed.
6. Mayfield Falls, Westmoreland, Jamaica
Mayfield Falls, Westmoreland, Jamaica
Mayfield Falls is an eco-tourism attraction centrally located in the parish of Westmoreland, Jamaica. It is situated on the Mayfield river, a tributary of the Cabarita River. It consists of 2 beautiful waterfalls, 21 natural pools, 52 types of ferns and lots of exotic flowers, plant species, birds, butterflies and wildlife native to Jamaica. Most parts of Mayfield Falls are pretty calm. You won’t find some of the large waterfalls here that you would find elsewhere on the island, however, this is very much a nice outing for the day. Of course keep in mind the current varies depending on the amount of rainfall in the area. Typically, the water here is not that powerful.
The water is extremely refreshing and the setting is absolutely charming! At Mayfield Falls you feel like you are in a jungle – there are lush plants everywhere. The grounds are immaculate and very well-maintained. This place is very peaceful and truly nature at its best.
The stones are slippery so you should definitely wear water shoes. For those who are concerned about sunburn – don’t worry as there is a lot of shade. The level of physical activity here is considered medium. You are walking through the water for about an hour. Many non-athletic people get through it quite fine so do not let this deter you. Mayfield has tour guides for those who need help, even with taking photos. There is a café on the premise that offers great local Jamaican cuisine.
Bio - Jacqueline Cameron
Jacqueline Cameron is a writer with decades of writing experience running the gamut from blogging to policy documents. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica and is the chief writer for the Jamaica So Nice Blog. She has Masters’ Degrees in the fields of engineering and management from McMaster University and University of Pennsylvania respectively. Jacqueline loves to see people transformed through her work.