As originally published on YogaTravelTree.com
Scott Sylvester had a cush corporate management job in Los Angeles before deciding to pack it up and travel the world. For a year, he traveled through South America, Europe, went on safari in South Africa, ski bummed Stateside in Tahoe and now resides in Kingston, Jamaica where he took a job to make a difference and live the island life. Here’s what he recommended to me, the future yogi traveler in Jamaica.
Countless visitors and locals have leapt from the ocean cliffs of Rick’s Cafe into the crystalline water below. Visitors from all nations will watch and do some cliff jumping from the highest platform at 35 feet. The scene at Rick’s is a lively place to spend the afternoon at the cliff-side Pool and Ocean Club, take in a world famous sunset and then settle into Rick’s After Dark ambiance. Open all day, every day, visitors and locals alike have designated Rick’s Cafe as Negril’s premier gathering spot and taking in the sunset from Rick’s has become a Jamaican tradition. http://www.rickscafejamaica.com
Unknown to most tourists, a place that’s just starting to be discovered near Oracabessa is the Blue Hole. A series of deep pools and waterfalls, this secluded spot is tough to get to, but locals know the way and are happy to guide you in for a small fee. You’ll be rewarded by beautiful blue water surrounded by jungle and an opportunity for cliff jumping. Bring your water shoes or rent some nearby.
A rural area known for great beaches, Portland is Scott’s favorite Parish. The coast is a diverse landscape of caves, bays, rivers, waterfalls and hills. Scott and his friends love a place called Great Huts, an oceanfront resort made up of African huts and tree-house rooms. This resort is close to nature but also near the night life and happenings of Boston Bay and Port Antonio. Guests will enjoy the cliff-side pool, unique hut style accommodations and beautiful views of the ocean.
In Port Antonio, the laid back capital of Portland Parish, you can visit Blue Lagoon, a beautiful, well-known lagoon 200-feet deep. Take a boat tour or kayak around the tiny, pristine body of water. From the lagoon, go off the beaten tourist path and try to find Winifred Beach, a super chill stretch of sand preferred by locals with fewer tourists and hawkers. Nine miles East of Port Antonio, make a stop at Boston Bay for a known surf swell and don’t miss the Jerk chicken in this particular spot.
Waterfalls in St. Thomas Parish
On the East Coast of Jamaica in St. Thomas Parish, there are numerous waterfalls including spectacular Reggae Falls where you can swim, sunbathe or hike. Also visit out-of-the-way Reach Falls set into the forest. Natural cool and hot springs nearby are reputed for their healing qualities. Visit The Bath Fountain in the foothills of the John Crow Mountains where the weary traveler can rejuvenate and get a relaxing massage.
At Treasure Beach, try to catch, or better yet, participate in Scott’s recent challenge, Jake’s off-road Triathlon. Numerous guesthouses are available or stay right at Jake’s and enjoy the natural setting. After the sport, catch a boat taxi out to Pelican Bar for a sundowner. It’s a truly Jamaican experience worth the ride for a chilled out evening. This rustic wooden bar is built on a sand bank a quarter-mile out to sea, halfway between Black River and Treasure Beach. Pelican Bar is the perfect place to spend the day doing nothing, sunbathing, drinking beer, swimming in shallow waters, eating fresh fish or fishing for your own dinner.
Jamaican Sport Culture
Jamaica is home to world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt. It’s a big deal on the island and the home-town star and Olympic athlete has a restaurant in Kingston called Track and Records. Bolt is often there and happy to give out autographs. Jamaicans are crazy about running and there is fierce competition starting in early grade school with high school championships called “Champs” which most Jamaicans from abroad will come back for.
Coming down to the south coast you’ll hit Kingston, where Scott lives. He recommends hitting Strawberry Hill for brunch and then taking transport up to Jah B’s Guesthouse, run by a family of Bobo Rastas and popular with backpackers and budget travelers. Scott says, “Jah B’s will give you a unique Rasta vibe and they pick, sort and roast their own coffee. Buy some to take home because it some of the best on the island.” He also vouches for the amazing, authentic Jamaican meals made by the hosts.
Blue Mountain Peak
Stay at least two nights at Jah B’s so you can hike Blue Mountain peak. The highest in Jamaica, it is also one of the highest in the Caribbean at 7,400 ft. The traditional Blue Mountain trek is a 7-mile (10 km) hike. If you feel adventurous, start the hike at 2:00am with the locals so you can get to the peak in time for sunrise over the island. Bring a few treats and one of Jah B’s Rasta dogs will follow you up the trail and keep you safe.
This monastery in Kingston rarely sees visitors but offers an authentic and powerful Theravada, Burmese traditional meditation for those who take the time to seek it out. The monks who meditate here are warm and inviting and will likely share a traditional meal with you after their Sunday sessions.
Email teacher Ven Lokanatha at email@example.com for more information.