Jamaica has been enticing adventurers ever since the original Taino people paddled across the sea in their dug-out canoes. Arch-adventurer Christopher Columbus accidentally ‘discovered’ Jamaica on one of his voyages, and years later came Captain Henry Morgan and his pirates. Today’s visitors are a little tamer and tend to stick to beachfront hotels, but the island has plenty to offer modern day adventurers.
American crocodiles are found in the swampy mangroves of some of Jamaica’s larger river systems and even feature on the national coat of arms. The James Bond film Live and Let Die (1973) features a famous stunt where Bond runs across the backs of crocodiles to escape the bad guy. The scene was filmed at the Falmouth swamp safari, where visitors today can see the crocodiles. Another place on the island to see crocodiles is on the Black River in the south east of the island. Boat tours take you up close to the crocodiles while the nearby nursery offers the chance to interact with baby crocs.
Cycling is still a bit of a niche sport in Jamaica; there are a few local groups, but generally the roads and traffic aren’t conducive to an enjoyable safe experience. However, get up into the mountains with an expert guide and all this changes. Spectacular views, no traffic and plunging mountain trails will give you the ride of your life. The team at Singletrack Jamaica have created a rider’s paradise of trails and are happy to put together custom packages. See Jamaica on two wheels and earn your red stripe.
Jamaica is known as the land of wood and water for good reason. The lush green mountains are crossed with numerous rivers and plunging waterfalls. Head upstream to witness real Jamaica. There are a few rivers where rafting trips are on offer, notably the Rio Grande and the Martha Brae. Raftsmen will punt you along the rivers on bamboo rafts, making this one of the more relaxing adventures to take on the island. Discover local villages and deserted tropical idylls, swim in the cool fresh rivers and marvel at the views.
The cliffs area of Negril lies to the south of the town and the famous beach. Hotels and bars run along the top of the 35ft high cliffs, offering spectacular views of the Caribbean. Tourists enjoy leaping from the cliffs into the clear blue sea below, but don’t be fooled – hit the water wrong from this height and you’ll suffer serious injury, there has been at least one fatality! One of the best places to jump from is Rick’s Cafe, which is incidentally one the best bars on the island. Just don’t have too much dutch courage before jumping.
The highest point on the island lies at 2,256m in the UNESCO world heritage Blue and John Crow mountains national park. The hike to the top usually starts from somewhere around Penlyne Castle and is approx 12.5km (7.8 miles), taking 3-4 hours. Pre-book a driver to take you up to the start point, preferably the evening before, and spend the ‘night’ at either Jah B or Whitfield Hall. Start hiking by torchlight at 0200hrs in order to witness the spectacular sunrise from the summit.