This is a guest post written by fellow travel blogger, Janiel Green. Janiel is a physician assistant in the US with a passion for connecting cultures, exploring without boundaries, and finding unique adventures. She has been to 5 of the 7 continents and hopes to travel to Antarctica next year. Follow her adventures at Culture Trekking.
The trouble with going to cruise ports of call is you tend to get caught up in the rat race of tourism.
I love off the beaten path adventures, especially those which help me better connect with a different culture and its people. Before traveling to Jamaica, all I knew was that it was Bob Marley’s home country and that some Jamaicans smoke a lot of weed. My traveling companion was also very worried about being attacked because she had heard people near the docks could be very aggressive.
I set out to find something unique for myself and safe for her. I found Carolyn Barrett Adventures and knew we struck gold! Her site perfectly describes a philosophy I live by: “Do the abnormal, experience the unique.”
Here are my 5 off the beaten path places in Jamaica!
1. Visit Mayfield Falls.
While Dunn Falls is more popular with tourists who love to climb its slippery sides, Mayfield Falls requires a bit of an adventurous spirit to conquer. You have to hike up a river, jump into cenote-like lagoons, swing from trees, and finally, arrive at its beautiful lace-like falls that are so pure you can literally drink straight from the river. I drank the water heartily and did not become ill!
2. Walk through the jungle on a herb/plant tour.
This was very exciting to me because I’ve recently developed a love for cooking. For instance, I was so enthralled to pull up some wild turmeric! I also had the chance to try coconut water directly from the nut and helped crack a cocoa pod to try real and organic cocoa beans which are surprisingly bitter!
3. Take a tour through the villages.
We had an amazing opportunity to hike with Harry who showed us some marijuana fields and how the locals grow the plant in their backyards. We saw how a woman was able to wash her clothes in lye with her hands! The sound she made with her hands while washing the clothes is an astoundingly unique thing!
4. Bushwhack through the jungle.
See wonderful sights like Dolphin mountain and the plants that were used to track slaves. I learned the real story behind slavery in Jamaica and how the locals hate Christopher Columbus. We spotted some cactus-like trees that women challenge their lovers to climb to prove their love. There were also a lot of cute little dogs that captured my heart and made me contemplate taking one home with me.
5. Go snorkeling or take a catamaran with Carolyn.
Carolyn regaled us with tales, like her being the only female certified divemaster in a group of men. Her story of meeting her husband and how he proposed was also quite practical, romantic, and comical. She has lived on the island for years and sailed/worked as a tour guide across the Caribbean. I cannot wait to return to take a multi-day tour with her and listen to all her stories and adventures.
While there are many more things to do in Jamaica, I highly recommend getting out of the city center. If you do, you will find another side of Jamaica and fall in love with the people and their carefree way of life. Some cruise visitors who stayed close to the docks did get their phones stolen but also had a scorcher of a time with the stingrays.
Jamaica is one of the most humbling, beautiful, and unique adventures I have ever had. I learned so much and fell in love with the people and how grateful they are for what they have. Even though they don’t have many material possessions, they have each other and are well fed. Maybe we in the United States are really the poor ones.