It is not only the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea that attract tourists to Jamaica. Behind the waves, the island abounds in deserted coves but also in fast rivers, wild gorges, high waterfalls, azure lagoons and natural wells, mysterious caves sheltering underground lakes. Here are 10 ideas of activities for lovers of fresh or salt water, hot or cold, thrill seekers or picturesque little corners.
1. Water sports between sky and sea
For those who don‘t mind, sensational water sports are the speciality of the major resorts in northern Jamaica, from Negril to Ocho Rios via the very touristic “MoBay”. Dive from the top of the famous Negril Cliffs or go snorkeling to discover coral reefs with thousands multicoloured fish, snorkeling or diving with all the necessary equipment. Try the thrill of parasailing over the deep Caribbean blue or go speed tubing around the coast, towed at full speed in an inflatable buoy!
2. Sailboat cruises and swimming with dolphins
If you‘ve never tried it, swimming in warm waters among dolphins, turtles, rays or sharks remains a must for tourism in Jamaica. Most resorts will offer it between cruises, unless you prefer to try your luck alone by renting a boat off the less crowded beaches…
Lovers of sea bathing away from the crowds will be seduced by the white sandy beaches of the south coast, wilder and among the most beautiful in the world, such as Frenchman‘s Cove and especially Treasure Beach, a small jewel of authenticity.
3. Sea fishing
Pick your favorite: you can join the big game fishing tours organized from the tourist resorts or rely on chance encounters in small fishing villages. With a bit of luck and sympathy, a local fisherman will take you aboard his canoe!
4. River touring: kayaking, rafting, tubing and bamboo rafts
In search of crocodiles, cascatelles or enchanting basins to refresh oneself, rivers are another way to explore the country. Glide through the tropical jungle and mangrove swamps on the sometimes calm, sometimes turbulent waters of the White or Black River.
Once used to transport crops to market, the traditional bamboo rafts are now used by tourists to travel down the Rio Grande (Portland) or the Martha Brae River (Falmouth) to discover little corners of paradise…
5. Playing Tarzan in the waterfalls
True jewels of the island, spectacular waterfalls punctuate the rivers that cross Jamaica. The 180-metre-high Dunn‘s River Falls, Konoko Falls (Ocho Rios), Mayfield Falls (Westmore Land), Reach Falls (Portland) and YS Falls (St. John‘s) are all spectacular waterfalls. These are all legacies of the country‘s karst geography, cascading down to form emerald-coloured pools and natural jacuzzis, an invitation to swim and relax… The bravest go climb the falls, to descend them by zip line or even at the end of a liana!
6. A great dive in the Blue Hole Mineral Spring
In Ocho Rios, the “Blue Hole”, a kind of deep natural well created by a landslide, is another of the island‘s must-see sights. The water is crystal clear and icy: in hot weather, you can cool down by climbing down the large ladder, but the local sport is to jump from above! Not for the faint hearted.
7. The best places to surf
Although the waves on the south-east coast are ideal for this sport, surfing is not very well established in Jamaica. This does not stop surfers from gathering in some of the best spots in the region, such as Cable Hut Beach and Rozelle Beach, or to the northeast on the pristine beaches of Portland Parish. With its pink sand and dark turquoise sea, away from the tourist crowds, Long Bay is undoubtedly the most idyllic spot for wave pros!
8. Water ride in the Caribbean Sea
Going from country trails to the warm waves of the Caribbean Sea, all on horseback, is an unusual hike! The unique Horseback Ride N‘ Swim is the ultimate experience for horseback riding enthusiasts. Departure from the hotels in Montego Bay and Negril.
9. Discovering groundwater
Mysterious and dark, they contrast with the brazen sun that constantly shine on the surface. The Jamaican soil, particularly in the western part of the country, is full of limestone caves with underground rivers and lakes, a paradise for speleologists and bats. Some were used by the Amerindians for their ceremonies, others by pirates to hid their booty.
10. The aperitif, your feet in the water
No way to leave the island without enjoying a fresh red stripe (local beer) and grilled fish at the legendary Pelican Bar! Unusual and picturesque, the small huts on stilts, a kilometre off Treasure Beach, can only be reached by fishing boat. Very popular with locals (and pelicans!), it is a lively place to meet and exchange ideas. The sunset is unforgettable…