Rafting in Jamaica is a must do experience for all adventurers to the Caribbean. Gently gliding down the Rio Grande river on a bamboo raft through lush green Jamaican rain-forest, is an activity first introduced by legendary Hollywood star Errol Flynn in the 1940’s.
The bamboo rafts were originally designed to transport bananas down the Rio Grande river. Today they gracefully navigate this beautiful stretch of river located in the east of Jamaica, close to Port Antonio. The 10km journey will take you 3 hours, with a pit-stop at Belinda’s you can sample her world famous fresh Crayfish coconut rundown for lunch!
Jamaica river rafting is one of the top things to do in Ocho Rios. Escape the confines of your hotel resort in Ocho Rios or Montego Bay and experience the true beauty of the island of Jamaica.
Practicalities and Booking River Rafting
The 10km and 3 hour journey begins at Rafter’s Village (Grant’s Level), located just south of the Berridale. Pre-arranged tours will take you to the start point, but if you’re travelling independently, then drive to Rafter’s Rest at St Margaret’s Bay (see map, below).
A word of warning; As you drive along the main road, just as you turn in for sign posted Rafter’s Rest, you might be accosted by some boat Captains. Whilst they all appeared to be official guides they wanted us to not go to the official booking office at Rafter’s rest and instead go with them directly to the start point. I don’t have a problem with their tactic, and I chose not to go with them as they wanted me to park my rental car in a not so secure looking field!
Transfer and Driving Journey Times
Ocho Rios to Rio Grande: 2.5 hours
Kingston to Rio Grande: 2.5 hours
Montego Bay to Rio Grande: 4 hours
Rafting in Jamaica: Rio Grande River Map
At the Rafter’s Rest official booking office you can pay for your boat ticket (US$65 per raft) and park your car. They offer a taxi service to the start point at Rafter’s Village (US$15) which takes about 20 minutes to drive. Once you arrive at the start point you’ll climb onto your bamboo throne and begin the journey down the Rio Grande river.
Rafting the Rio Grande
Rafting on the Rio Grande will be a highlight of your trip to Jamaica so make it one of your things to do in Ocho Rios. Translating from Spanish as “Big River”, Rio Grande is a stunning slice through the Jamaican rain-forest. As your bamboo raft gently meanders along the turquoise green waters the sounds from the forest bring this magical place alive. You may encounter local farmers, who still transport their produce of bananas on these bamboo rafts.
Enough from me now, sit back and enjoy these beautiful views along this rafting in Jamaica adventure, and don’t let your feet get wet as the raft encounters fearless river rapids!
Belinda’s Jamaican Restaurant for Lunch
Located roughly half-way (see map) along your Jamaica river rafting trip, Belinda serves the very best of traditional Jamaican cuisine. Working from her meticulously clean kitchen, in the open jungle, Belinda prepares meals from fresh ingredients. Her stove is powered by the wood she collects on her journey everyday from her home to the restaurant.
The Crayfish Coconut Rundown (J$1200) has to be her top dish. The fresh crayfish are delivered to Belinda every morning and their size are truly staggering. I’ve certainly never seen a crayfish this big before! Don’t be dismayed by the polystyrene plate or plastic cutlery, in fact this should give you confidence in her top class kitchen hygiene!
The crayfish are simmered in a sauce of coconut juice giving this a mouth watering good taste. All dishes are served with sides of breadfruit, fired plantain, vegetables and rice. If crayfish isn’t for you she also cooks a chicken dish (J$6000). Drinks are served here as well, I recommend the local Red Stripe beer or non-alcoholic refreshingly local Ting grapefruit based soft drink. The opportunity to sample Belinda’s cooking is another reason to do the rafting in Jamaica along the Rio Grande.
Got any travel tips for Jamaica to share? Leave me a comment below!