Where else can you explore an underwater pirate city and get a fire massage?
Tourists that visit Jamaica are fascinated with the island’s most popular tourist attractions, like the Dunn’s River Falls and the famous home of Bob Marley (now the Bob Marley Museum), as they should be. But, there are other cool adventures in Jamaica that are unique to the beautiful island. Let’s explore a few of the most unique adventures that you can only have in Jamaica.
Bobsledding Through the Mountains at Mystic Mountain
Made popular in the islands by the 1993 sports movie Cool Runnings, bobsledding involves teams of people racing around iced tracks in a gravity-powered sleigh. As a winter sport, one would never think it would be popular in the Caribbean islands, but in Jamaica, it is! The Mystic Mountain Adventure Park in Ocho Rios has a signature bobsled ride, inspired by the Olympic sport, with a track made of metal instead of ice. The ride is just under two minutes and takes you down the 700-foot Mystic Mountain peak, with panoramic views of Ocho Rios on either side. The bobsled is similar to a rollercoaster with brakes that you can control, but for the ultimate experience, locals suggest going full force down the mountain.
Visiting the Luminous Lagoon
Jamaica has hundreds of lakes, beaches, rivers, and lagoons, so what’s so special about this lagoon? Well, for starters, this luminous lagoon in Trelawny, also called “the glistening waters,” is filled with microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates. These dinoflagellates flash a bluish light when movement disturbs the water they live in, giving off a mysterious glow-in-the-dark effect. At night, boat trips are taken to the lagoon where guests can observe the fish swimming in the blue light or even jump in the water themselves. There are only four of these lagoons in the world with Jamaica’s lagoon being the most luminous.
Exploring the Sunken Pirate City in Port Royal
In the 1600s, the now sleepy town of Port Royal was known as “the richest and wickedest city in the world.” After the English captured Jamaica, Port Royal became a haven for pirates and buccaneers, who would frequently launch raids on the nearby Spanish colonies. In 1692, the town was completely destroyed by the famous earthquake and the tsunami that followed. The natural disasters sent many forts, buildings, and houses underwater and killed half the city’s population. Port Royal has since been rebuilt but the town is still the object of fascination for many filmmakers and geographic entities. Evidence of the natural disasters and old culture of the city can still be found on land and underwater. Scuba divers and teams of archaeologists can be seen in the waters of Port Royal, on occasion, discovering the sunken buildings, treasures, and artifacts that were once part of this historic town.
Jumping Through the Rabbit Holes at Reach Falls
Reach Falls is becoming one of the most-loved natural attractions on Jamaica’s east coast, and with good reason. The beautiful eco-attraction features a cascading waterfall surrounded by the lush greenery of the Montane Forrest and various species of birds. Another popular feature of the falls are the hidden holes that have been carved out in the rocks by the water. A jump through one of the small rabbit holes will lead you to an underwater cave that leads back to the main pool. There are also hidden holes behind the falls that guests can climb through that lead to just above the cascade. Reach Falls also features a natural, heart-shaped Jacuzzi that feels like a natural massage when you sit in it.
INSIDER TIPThere are guides at the Falls that will lead you to where to walk, jump and climb through so pay close attention to their instructions.
Getting a “Fire Massage” at the Fire Water Pond
The Windsor Mineral Spring in St. Ann, also known as the “fire water pond,” is unlike any other body of water found in Jamaica, or even the Caribbean. Fire Water is a natural spring where natural gas and a high concentration of sulfur are fused, which causes the water to literally be lit on fire. The pond is found in a remote Rasta community of Ocho Rios, which is not considered a tourist area by any standards; but those who find it consider it to be a true Jamaican treasure. The water is said to have various healing and rejuvenating properties which visitors to the pond have attested to. Locals in the area offer visitors to the pond “fire massages” with a towel that has been soaked in the healing waters.
INSIDER TIPThe pond is located in the community of Windsor Heights, St. Ann. If you plan on visiting, ensure that you’re taken by a resident or local guide.
Diving in the Blue Hole
The Blue Hole is an unofficial attraction located in the hills of Ocho Rios, away from the tourist center of the city. The entrance to the attraction is a beautiful pathway of various species of plants that leads to a pool of turquoise water surrounded by rocks and lush greenery. Above the pool of water are long rope vines that visitors use to swing on and jump into the water, much like Tarzan. The cool water is about six to 18 feet deep and very safe for swimming. Blue Hole also has a huge waterfall that cascades over a rock. This waterfall features a hidden cave underneath and further away, a large pool of water that can only be described as a big Jacuzzi.
INSIDER TIPGuides are present at the Blue Hole to instruct you on where to dive, jump from rocks and swim.
Swimming With Horses
As far as water activities go, this is quite a unique one. Tour operators and resorts like Half Moon train horses to swim in the ocean. Many of the swimming horses have been rescued from race tracks where they were already swimming as part of physical therapy. The horses are then trained in a pool and then the ocean by professional swimmers. At various centers on the island, guests are offered the opportunity to go horseback riding on the beach and swimming bareback on the horses in the ocean.
Biking Through the World-Famous Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are the longest mountain range in Jamaica and home to the world-famous Blue Mountain Coffee. Many people enjoy hiking up to the peak but biking is also a popular way to experience the beautiful scenery that the hills provide. The main trail in the mountain that leads to the peak, at 7,000-feet, is easy to follow with signs at various intervals making it easy to bike through. Shorter trails are also available for those would prefer a short ride down. There are many inns and restaurants in the Blue Mountains that provide a good pit stop on the way down.
Having a Beer at Floyd’s Pelican Bar
Having a beer at a bar is a common past-time in Jamaica, but having a beer a Floyd’s Pelican Bar in Negril is not the average experience. This bar is made completely of driftwood and is situated about a quarter mile out into the ocean. To get to Floyd’s Pelican Bar, you have to take a short boat ride from the shores of Black River or Parottee Point out into the ocean. Once you’re there, you can have a beer, eat some delicious seafood, sunbathe and even swim in the turquoise waters.
INSIDER TIPYou can charter a local taxi to take you to the area where the boats leave to go to Floyd’s Pelican Bar. If you’re staying at a hotel near Black River or Negril, check to see if they offer tours to the bar as well.
Rafting, which is done on a 30-foot bamboo raft and guided by a captain, is done mostly on the Martha Brae and the Rio Grande rivers in Jamaica and is one of the most calming tourist activities that you can do on the island. Rafting is great for a family outing and can also be quite romantic, as the rivers are surrounded by lush forests, flowers, and birds.