Adventures in Jamaica
Hordes of tourists flock to Jamaica every year for their dose of reggae, rum, and rastas. They bask in all-inclusive resorts and posh, climate-controlled suites. They sip umbrella-adorned drinks and periodically paddle over to the swim-up bar for a tall rum punch. But for adventurous independent travelers, Jamaica has far more to offer.
Blue Mountain Hiking
Rising to a height of over 7,000 feet and masked in the mist and mystery of a dense tropical rainforest, the Blue Mountains are covered by miles of trails.
Guided hikes are available through adventure companies and local freelancers. Destinations, a Kingston-based operator specializing in ecotourism and outdoor adventure, offers guided tours and assistance in independent planning. Use their $15 Information and Travel Planning Service. You’ll receive maps, personal recommendations, articles, and pricing related to your interests and itinerary.
Jamaica’s Blue Mountain hotels offer the best of both worlds—low-volume accommodations and adventure just beyond your door:
Located approximately 30 minutes outside of Gordon Town, the Pine Grove (809-922-8708) offers 4x4-assisted positioning at numerous trails as well as invaluable advice and hospitality.
Located a short walk from the Blue Mountain trail, Whitfield Hall (809-927-0986) offers 4x4 positioning, guided hikes, and horses for independent excursions. This wooden lodge, with no electricity or hot water is a peaceful respite.
Wildflower Lodge (809-929-5394) is a stone’s throw from the Whitfield and offers many of the same amenities. Additionally, the Wildflower offers down-home pampering with private rooms and excellent, inexpensive, home-cooked meals.
Jeeps, Mules, and Bikes
Safari Tours, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.jamaica-irie.com) has created a 2-day, mule-assisted hike to Blue Mountain Peak. After a short night’s rest, you’re roused at 2 a.m. for a 3-hour trek to the peak. If luck prevails, you’ll catch a rare glimpse of a clear 6 a.m. sunrise before heading back to civilization.
Safari Tours also offers a 12-hour Jeep tour that originates in Ocho Rios, traverses the Blue Mountains, and culminates in Kingston before retracing its steps. Adventurers walk on hanging bridges, visit waterfalls, and hike a trail or two.
Former New Orleans natives Becky and Paul LeMoine operate Blue Mountain Tours and a 1-day Blue Mountain bike tour. Eighty dollars buys sturdy bike transportation to the site, lunch, and a guided downhill glide from 5,000 feet.
For More Info
Jamaica Tourist Board, www.visitjamaica.com.
The Jamaica Guide and www.forestry.gov.jm.