Most visitors to Jamaica spend a week on the island and you can be sure that they plan to spend that time in the sun on the world famous white sand beaches that kiss the amazingly clear Caribbean Sea. But even the most ardent sun-worshipper gets a little tired of the tanning grind and longs for a respite from the hot beaches. On many islands there is no alternative, since there is nothing but the beach; but Jamaica has much more to offer. With a high mountain range that runs through the center of the island like a backbone, Jamaica is home to many rivers that meander to the Caribbean Sea; and on the Martha Brae River, there’s an idyllic bamboo raft ride through lush greenery with trees towering overhead.
Rafting on the Martha Brae River is a peaceful and tranquil experience that will soothe the soul and rejuvenate the body. The journey begins about three miles inland from the town of Falmouth in the beautiful scenery of Rafter’s Village, the starting point where you’ll be greeted with a complimentary cold drink. There are toilets and changing rooms, swimming pool, bar, shops and the very interesting Miss Martha’s Herb Garden, which displays an extraordinary variety of plants renowned for their medicinal properties.
After selecting a life jacket, you’ll be introduced to your raft captain, who will take you on a three-mile journey down the river to the landing point, Martha’s Rest. The rafts are about ten meters long and can accommodate two adults in addition to the captain. Each raft is made by its captain, completely out of bamboo. Standing at the front of the raft in his colorful uniform, the captain uses a long bamboo pole to propel the boat along the bottom and banks of the river. Your captain will give you a tour and tell you interesting facts about the river and Jamaica. Most of the ride is slow and uneventful, but there are a couple of patches where the rapids will wake you up if all this relaxation and sounds of the water start to lull you to sleep. And if that doesn’t work, feel free to take a dip in the river at the Tarzan stop, where a chain dangles enticingly from an overhanging tree. The water is cool and refreshing.
In addition to the bamboo, beautiful trees and flowers that adorn the riverbanks, look for birds, especially blue herons that fish for shrimp and small fish, and wrens that defend their nests from crows. The sweet sounds of birds singing and calling can be heard throughout the trip.
Along the way, you can stop at one of the few riverside shops for drinks and handicrafts. The atmosphere is very relaxed and there is no pressure to buy anything, but next time you have a chance to tell your friends back home that you stopped your bamboo raft in the shade of a guango tree to drink a jelly coconut and buy regards. ? Children fall in love with the miniature bamboo rafts made by Jamaican entrepreneurs. And a cold beer seems like the perfect partner for this relaxed activity.
While rafting on the Martha Brae River is an attraction that will be enjoyed by people of all ages, it is highly appealing to couples, especially honeymooners, as it is so romantic. It is also an activity that should not be rushed. It can be done in an hour, but you’re on vacation, so take your time: take lots of pictures, soak up the beauty of nature, swim, swing like Tarzan, ask your raft captain, grab a snack, and do some shopping too . . And just relax.