River Boating and Rafting
Jamaica's many rivers mean a multitude of freshwater experiences, from mild to wild. The island's first tourist activity off the beaches was relaxing rafting trips aboard bamboo rafts poled by local boatmen, which originated on the Rio Grande. Jamaicans had long used rafts to transport bananas downriver. Decades ago actor and local resident Errol Flynn saw the rafts and thought they'd make a good tourist attraction. Today the slow rides are a favorite with romantic travelers and anyone looking to get off the beach for a few hours. The popularity of the Rio Grande's trips spawned similar trips down the Martha Brae River, about 25 miles (38 km) from Mo'Bay. Near Ocho Rios, the Great River has lazy river rafting as well as energetic kayaking.
Jamaica Tours Limited. This big tour company conducts raft trips down the Martha Brae, approximately 25 miles (38 km) east of Mo'Bay; the excursion can include lunch if requested. Price depends on number of people and pickup location. Hotel tour desks can book it. Providence Dr., Montego Bay, St. James. 876/953–3700; www.jamaicatoursltd.com.
Rio Grande Tours. Guided raft trips down the Rio Grande depart around 9 am and take about two hours, unless you stop to swim and have lunch. St. Margaret's Bay, 876/993–5778. $72 plus $5–$10 tip.
River Raft Ltd.. This company leads 1½-hour trips down the Martha Brae River, about 25 miles (38 km) from most Mo'Bay hotels. Martha Brae, 876/940–7018; 876/952–0889; 876/952–0889; www.jamaicarafting.com. $60.
Chukka Caribbean Adventures. The big activity outfitter offers the Chukka River Tubing Safari on the White River, an easy trip that doesn't require previous tubing experience. The three-hour tour lets you travel in your very own tube through gentle rapids. Ocho Rios, St. Ann. 876/619–1441; 876/656–8026; 877/424–8552; chukka.com. $99.
The Black River, Jamaica's longest waterway, is named for the peat deposits that color its waters. This river is also the best place on the island to see crocodiles. Guided boat tours spot local birds and point out native foliage.
South Coast Safaris Ltd.. On slow boat cruises up the river, keep an eye peeled for crocodiles basking on the banks and swimming in the water—the captain has pet names for some of them. The cruise also passes through a thick mangrove area with egrets and other birds. Back at the landing stage there is a crocodile nursery where you can see young crocs being raised for release. 1 Crane St., Black River, St. Elizabeth. 876/965–2513; www.jamaica-southcoast.com. $20.