Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park#3 in Best Things To Do in Jamaica
Along Jamaica's eastern edge, you'll find the majestic Blue and John Crow Mountains, the fountainhead of the fragrant Blue Mountain Coffee and a scenic masterpiece for nature lovers. In fact, in 2015 it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most vacationers' experience with the Blue Mountains is limited to sipping the coffee, but if you have the time and the stamina, journey to the area to behold the mountains or to hike through them.
Hiking and camping in Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park is strenuous and not for the faint of heart. The peak of the range rises to an altitude of 7,402 feet, and the higher you climb, the craggier the terrain and the cooler and more humid the weather. Remember to dress in layers for your hike, and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Blue Mountain is also home to its namesake famous coffee, The Mavis Bank Coffee Factory, which processes 1.4 million pounds of beans annually. You can take a 45-minute tour of the factory (located southwest of the peak at an elevation of about 3,000 feet) for $10 per person. Tours run weekdays between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., but keep in mind that you must book the tours five days in advance.
Several companies operate hiking tours through Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. Sun Venture Tours offers overnight guided hikes of the peak for $230 per person. You can cover more ground in less time with a Blue Mountain Bicycle Tour, which operates daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and starts at $135 per person, depending on the location of your departure. (Tours leave from Montego Bay, Kingston, Ochos Rios, Runaway Bay and Trelawny.) For more information, visit the park's website.
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#1 Dunn's River Falls and Park (Ocho Rios)
If you're staying in Ocho Rios or just visiting for the day from a cruise ship, travelers insist you allot a couple of hours to climb the Dunn's River Falls. You can take a guided climb of the waterfall, hike a trail alongside it or just recline and relax on the beach at the bottom.
Vacationers say that climbing along the rocks to the top of the falls isn't rigorous, but it can be slippery. Recent visitors said you can keep your footing by wearing water shoes. Given that you'll be splashed, then soaked by the cascading water on the ascent – and some say it's a bit dangerous – it's best if you leave your young kids (or any vacation buddies who aren't strong swimmers) at the foot of the falls. The attractions recommends allotting 45 minutes to an hour to climb the falls.
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