There’s more to Jamaica than just scrumptious food, stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife. The island is bejeweled with fascinating hidden gems and natural wonders suited for anyone looking for an off the beaten path adrenaline rush. From exciting hikes through mysterious landscapes to heart-stopping dives into dark caves and deep waters, get ready for a thrill ride in Jamaica.
Throw caution to the wind and launch yourself into the warm, blue Caribbean Sea. While the food is to die for and a stunning view of the sunset, without a doubt the main attraction at Rick’s Cafe is the cliff jumping displays. You can either watch the professional cliff jumping displays or participate yourself if you’re feeling the daredevil spirit. Countless visitors and locals have jumped or dived from the cliff and into the crystalline water below. The highest platform jump is 35 feet and ensures the thrill of a lifetime, though some choose to jump from even higher points from tree limbs. Catapult your body from breathtaking heights into the cool embrace of the Caribbean.
Dunn’s River Falls
Climb this famous 600-foot waterfall at the point where its river meets the Caribbean Sea, testing fun boulders that double as slippery waterslides along the way. A stone’s throw from Ocho Rios, one of Jamaica’s fastest growing resort centres, Dunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s national treasures. Globally, it is as well known as Reggae and equally stimulating. Described as a living and growing phenomenon, it continuously regenerates itself from deposits of travertine rock, the result of precipitation of calcium carbonate from the river, as it flows over the falls. The small dome-shaped cataracts are usually associated with thermal spring activity found in limestone caves. This, combined with its location near to the sea, gives Dunn’s River the distinction of being the only one of its kind in the Caribbean, if not the world.
Hiking in the Blue Mountains
( via Varun Baker )
If you’re looking for a challenging hike and a memorable experience, get your hiking boots on and head for Blue Mountain Peak. Both thrilling and scenic, there is no other trail quite like it on the entire island. The peak is the highest on the island, rising to an altitude of 7402ft. In the darkness you climb steadily for four hours. Guided by your flashlight and clinging to the mountain wall, you forge ahead. As you near the top, the dark outline of the forest grows on either side, and sometimes the silvery outline of a tree fern catches your eye. Then, the morning light begins to break through the shadows. It becomes a race against the sun. Upon reaching the peak the sun rises over the mist-laced mountains surrounding you. On a clear day, you can see Buff Bay and Port Antonio’s Navy Island to the North, and Kingston, Portmore and St Thomas’ coast to the south. You even might spot the shadowy form of Cuba, 90 miles to the north. As the strong wind whips around you and the day becomes brighter, you sit seemingly on top of the world, and certainly atop all of Jamaica, knowing you’ve just conquered The Peak.
Caving in Jamaica
Ideally located on Jamaica’s scenic North Coast, between the resort centres of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, the Green Grotto Caves are a major historical and natural attraction for both local visitors and tourists who crave adventure. Said to have once been a haven for pirates and even runaway slaves in the 18th century, the caves (named for the green algae that cover its walls) are characterized by coastal limestone and are easily accessible. The tour of the caves (measuring 1,525 metres in length and 12 metres in depth) lasts just under an hour! Rich in history, the caves can be identified with different groups of people. The first Jamaicans, the Arawak Indians (Tainos) initially found shelter in them. This is evident in the multiple fragments of pottery and adzes that are unearthed from time to time. During the period of take-over by the English, the caves were used as a hideout for the Spaniards who were being driven out of the country. The caves were also used in the period between the two world wars by smugglers running arms to Cuba. Later, during the Second World War, the Government of Jamaica used the entrance of the cave as a storeroom for rum in barrels. Today, in addition to being one of Jamaica’s must-see attractions, they are being developed to include a nature park and reserve.
Exploring the Cockpit Country
Located 130 miles from Kingston in Jamaica’s northwest (near Montego Bay and Ocho Rios) The Cockpit Country has the highest diversity of plants and animals anywhere on the island. It is a goldmine for birdwatchers, plant lovers and scientists with a sophisticated knowledge of the various species and a determination to withstand the humidity, the mosquitoes and the other harsh physical conditions that have kept the region free of large scale human settlement for centuries. This unique karst landscape resembles the inside of an egg carton with its rounded peaks and steep-sided, bowl-shaped depressions. Limestone denudations traversing three parishes and covering over 500 square miles is one of the area’s main features. Below the surface of the Cockpit Country are hundreds of rivers, streams and caves, providing some of the best spelunking opportunities in the Caribbean. Most of the area was a stronghold of the Maroons from the eighteenth century, when attacks by the British forced ex-slaves to use the harsh terrain to their advantage. The Cockpit Country is still home to one of the most important Maroon communities in the island, the town of Accompong in the parish of St Elizabeth.
Tags: adventure, blue mountain peak, caribbean, caving, cliff diving, Dunn's River Falls, great huts port antonio, green grotto caves, hiking, Jamaica, kingston, negril, Ocho Rios, off the beaten path, rick's cafe, the blue montains, the cockpit country, things to do, travel, waterfalls