White sand beaches, private infinity pools, delicious Jamaican cuisine… it can be tough to leave the charms of a Jamaican villa once you’ve comfortably settled in. Venture a little further however, and you’ll discover plenty of worthwhile reasons to tear yourself away. Here are a few unique excursions to try in Jamaica.
Climb a Waterfall
With its lush mountains and abundant rivers, Jamaica is home to more than its fair share of spectacular – and climbable – waterfalls. The secret is in the island’s limestone, which naturally erodes into tiered steps and refreshing pools. And while Jamaica’s waterfalls are far from a well-kept secret, it is possible to avoid the largest crowds with a well-timed visit – aim for early mornings or days when no cruise ships are in port. Try YS Falls near White House for teen-friendly zip-lines and rope swings, or Dunn’s River Falls near Ocho Rios, which flows into the sea. For another option slightly off the beaten track, consider Konoko Falls and Park (formerly Coyaba Gardens), just outside of Ocho Rios.
Go with the Flow
When Jamaica’s rivers are not tumbling down mountains in the form of waterfalls, they’re generally pretty low key – offering the perfect vantage point for a lazy afternoon drifting down the river on a bamboo raft excursion. Once used to transport crops, bamboo rafts now offer visitors a peaceful glimpse of Jamaica’s jungles, away from busy roads or resorts. Don’t forget to wear your swimsuit – your guide will point out the best spots to jump in and take a dip! More of the adventurous type? Opt for a white water rafting excursion at Great River near Montego Bay.
Tour a Rum Estate
Whether you’ve visited Jamaica or not, chances are you’re familiar with Appleton Rum – an essential ingredient in the island’s most popular cocktails. If you’re more of a rum connoisseur than a casual rum-sipper, the winding road inland to the Appleton Estate is worth the journey for a chance to discover the brand’s 265-year-old history and rum-producing techniques. Starting with rum punch, the 45-minute tour leads you through the rum making process, from harvesting the fresh sugar cane, to the distillery, and the ageing house’s oak barrels. Of course, no rum tour would be complete without a final tasting – the gift shop includes a selection of hard-to-find premium varieties.
Zip through the Jungle
One of Jamaica’s most popular family excursions is Mystic Mountain, an Ocho Rios theme park where the star attraction is a rainforest bobsled ride inspired by Jamaica’s famous Olympic team. Zip down the mountain in your own personal bobsled – controlling the speed as much or as little as you want with the hand brake. Children must a minimum of 46” tall for this ride, but guests of all ages can enjoy the Sky Explorer – a rainforest chairlift that offers views of the mountain and Dunn’s River Falls. Waterslides, zip-lines, and hummingbird and butterfly gardens round out the Mystic Mountain attractions.
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