Crystal clear water in Jamaica
There’s no denying Jamaica is the perfect sit-and-do-nothing destination. After all, this is the home turf of chill-out king, Bob Marley. But beyond the dreamy beaches and lazy reggae beats, the island’s got a side that turns the dial from laid-back to full-throttle. Here, we round up a handful of must-dos you’re going to need a seatbelt for…
Anyone who’s seen ‘Cocktail’ will remember Tom Cruise and his leading lady enjoying a moment at these famous falls. If you can’t quite picture the scene, imagine a 600-foot staircase of rock with water thundering down it and you kind of get the picture. The falls are Jamaica’s star attraction and one of the few waterfalls on earth to wash straight out to sea. But people don’t congregate here to just admire them – they scale them. Luckily, you don’t have to be a mountain goat as it’s a relatively easy scramble to the summit. Join one of the wobbly conga chains of climbers and anyone, from toddlers to OAPs, can have a go. You’ll get drenched, but you’ll laugh all the way to the top.
A relative newcomer on Jamaica’s to-do list, this pocket of jungle is geared up for scenic tours with a difference. A state-of-the-art chairlift whisks you 700 feet above the treetops to a lookout point. Once you’ve taken in the grandstand views of Ochos Rios harbour the only way is down. And your mode of transport? What can only be described as the tropical version of a bobsled. It shoots you down a 3,280-foot track at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, through a green blur of jungle. If you can stand up straight at the bottom, you can finish up by zip-lining your way across the rainforest, which ends with a near-vertical descent. High flyers form an orderly queue.
The little mountain village of Nine Mile is the Jamaican equivalent of Elvis Presley’s Graceland. But in place of a white-columned mansion and manicured lawns, you get clapboard houses and thick forest. The birthplace, address and final resting place of Bob Marley is a heavyweight on Jamaica’s sightseeing map. Every year, scores of die-hard fans make a beeline for the house where the reggae master lived and worked. These days it’s a quirky museum, stuffed with memorabilia and gold discs. You can even peek inside his simple bedroom and recording studio while you’re here. Afterwards, check out the mausoleum where he was laid to rest in 1981.
It’s impossible to talk about Jamaica’s longest mountain range without getting the OTT dictionary out. Beautiful just doesn’t cut it. Stunning doesn’t come close. And breathtaking doesn’t do it justice. This peak-packed national park is usually cloaked in a blue-heat haze, hence the name. When the mist does clear, you can see the outline of Cuba from its 2,256-metre highpoint. Hiking the countless trails – with hummingbirds, butterflies and 500-odd tropical plants for company – is fairly easy. We’re not talking Alpine standards by any means. In fact, you can even cycle them. The Blue Mountains also produce some of the world’s best coffee, so a caffeine-fuelled pitstop is part of the deal.
Now here’s a safari with a difference. Rather than jitterbugging through a rainforest in a 4×4, you get to twirl through one on an inflatable rubber ring. The rendezvous point is the 17th-century Spanish Bridge on the White River. From here, the water’s ever-changing pace sees you spiral your way through rushing rapids and sleepy lagoons. Along the way, you’ll clock coconut plantations, bamboo groves and clapboard villages. And the calls of exotic birds will provide the soundtrack on this three-mile adventure. The ride finishes up at the White River Valley, a tropical estate with over 100 species of flowers for your viewing pleasure.
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Author: Osman Khan
Published: October 19, 2011
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