Horseback Riding in Jamaica
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Although it doesn't have quite the long history of horseback rides as Ocho Rios (which began offering horseback swims at Chukka Cove after visitors saw the polo ponies being exercised in the sea), Montego Bay has a growing number of horseback options for both beginning and experienced riders.
Braco Stables. These stables are in the Braco area near Duncans in Trelawny, between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Two estate rides are offered a day for US$70, and riders are matched to horses based on riding ability. The trip also includes complimentary refreshments served poolside at the Braco great house. Experienced riders can also opt for a mountain ride ($100) for a more-rugged two-hour tour. Braco, Duncans. 876/954–0185. www.bracostables.com.
Chukka Caribbean Adventures. From its location west of Montego Bay at Sandy Bay, Chukka Caribbean Adventures offers tours for riders of all levels. You travel through rain forest and open countryside before heading to the sea for an exhilarating ride through the surf. The two-and-a-half hour excursion is available for riders six and older. The Horseback ride-and-swim tour is US$72 adults, US$52 kids. Sandy Bay, Hanover. 876/619–1441 Digicel in Jamaica; 876/656–8026 Lime in Jamaica; 877/424–8552 USA. www.chukkacaribbean.com.
With its combination of hills and beaches, Ocho Rios is a natural for horseback excursions. Most are guided tours taken at a slow pace and perfect for those with no previous equestrian experience. Many travelers opt to wear long pants for horseback rides, especially those away from the beach.
Annandale Plantation. The 600-acre plantation is high above Ocho Rios and today serves as a working farm; in its glory days it hosted dignitaries such as the Queen Mother. The great house is open for the tours. Horseback rides start at Drax Hall and include trails to the beach and, upon request, to the great house. 4 mi (6 km) southwest of Ocho Rios, near town of Epworth. 876/974–2323. tourwise.org.
Chukka Caribbean Adventures. Ocho Rios has excellent horseback riding, and a great option is Chukka Caribbean's two-hour ride-and-swim tour, which takes you along Papillion Cove (where the 1973 movie Papillion was filmed), as well as locations used in Return to Treasure Island (1985) and Passion and Paradise (1988). The trail continues along the coastline to Chukka beach and a bareback ride in the sea. The tour costs US$74 for adults, US$52 for children. Note that Chukka also has another location west of Montego Bay at Sandy Bay, and that the outfitter handles many other activities and tours beyond just horseback riding. Ocho Rios. 876/619–1441 Digicel in Jamaica; 876/656–8026 Lime in Jamaica; 877/424–8552 from U.S. www.chukkacaribbean.com.
Hooves. This stable offers several guided tours, including a popular 2½-hour beach ride ($85 from Ocho Rios, $89 from Runaway Bay) suitable for adults and children taller than three feet. The trip begins with a visit to the Seville Great House estate before making its way to the beach for a ride. Hooves is home to many rescue horses that have been rehabilitated. Windsor Rd., St. Ann's Bay. 876/972–0905. www.hooves-jamaica.com.
Prospect Plantation. The plantation offers a horseback rides for ages eight and older. The price (US$64) includes use of helmets; advance reservations are required. For the adventurous, Prospect Plantation also offers guided camel rides. Rte. A1, about 3 mi (5 km) east of Ocho Rios. 876/974–5335. www.prospectplantationtours.com.
One of the best ways to tour the South Coast's pastoral landscape is from horseback. In addition to riding along the beach, area stables offer trails through farm and pasture areas, allowing an up-close-and-personal look at some of the island's most rustic landscapes.
Paradise Park. This working farm has been owned and operated by the same family for more than 100 years. Visitors can take horseback rides to explore the farm's fields and pastures and the beaches on the property. Afterward you can take a dip in Sweet River, and have a picnic if you bring your own food. Rides are US$50 per person, and reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Rte. A2, 1 mi (2 km) west of Ferris Cross, Savannah-la-Mar. 876/955–2675.
Although it doesn't have as long a history as the horseback-riding options in Ocho Rios, Negril is home to several good horseback options. Both beginning and experienced riders can be accommodated on guided rides.
Rhodes Hall Eco Tours. Just 15 minutes from Negril, Rhodes Hall is a former sugar plantation that now offers eco tours and adventures in a nature reserve. Guided walks take visitors to a floating viewing platform, where they can observe crocodiles and their babies at a safe distance. There are also horseback rides along beach in the reserve. Other attractions include boat rides, fishing, and scuba diving on the reef, which is in pristine condition. Birdwatchers and botanists will be thrilled by the wildlife. Off-site is a huge Arawak cave that has caverns deep beneath the surface. Day passes to Rhodes Hall are $15, including round trip transfer from Negril, and a Red Stripe, fruit punch, or soft drink. Green Island, Hanover. 876/957–6422. www.rhodesresort.com.
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