Jamaica Community Tourism - Full Island Adventure
This is a recommended tour itinerary that we have created for you to truly experience Jamaica.
Get away from the typical vacation and take a different type of trip to one of the world's most magical destinations. A Jamaica trip that engages your heart and mind. A full-island community tourism adventure where you visit seven different Parishes. You can do hands-on activities, get up close, have meaningful personal encounters, and make a real difference with your travel dollars. Explore Jamaica encompassed in the company of expert local guides who are born and raised in their local area. Who understand and are passionate about the people, places, and culture of their communities. Immerse yourself in the philosophy of humanity and community in a Rastafari Indigenous Village. Learn first-hand about the rich history, culture, art, music, and food of the Maroons. Explore caves their warriors used as hideouts for launching guerilla attacks against the British. Hike the historic and extensive trails of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and biodiversity hot spot for the Caribbean Islands. While you're there, visit the sanctuary of the Jamaican swallowtail, the largest butterfly in the Western Hemisphere. Look for alligators and wildlife from the viewing tower of the Portland Bight Discovery Center, the new jewel in Jamaica's largest protected area. Make a beautiful Starlight lantern with a women's group in Treasure Beach, the Home of Community Tourism.
Day 1 Pre-tour:
Arrive in Montego Bay at any time. There are no planned activities because flights arrive throughout the day.
Accommodations: Montego Bay area
Day 2 Rastafari Indigenous Village: Rastafari Roots, Rhythms, Reasonings
This morning you will immerse yourself in a Presentation of Love at Rastafari Indigenous Village, in St. James Parish. Engage your senses as you travel through time and tradition, experiencing the Rastafari philosophy and lifestyle for yourself. Meet Rasta Village community members one-to-one and share their world of nature: sincere, authentic, touchable experiences with earth, water, fire, and air. The tour start time is 10 am. The tour length is 2.5 hours. If you pre-ordered lunch, tour length is 3 hours.
Getting There: RIV is located just outside Montego Bay. Normal access to the Village is from the Porto Bello community, five minutes from Bogue Road. However, if the river that runs through the Village is high, access is by Irwin community, which turns off Bogue Road and travels through the Fairfield and Irwin communities to Riverside Drive.
Day 3 Bunker's Hill Cultural Experience & River Tour: Food, Cave & River Community Experience
Today you will get off the beaten path and into adventurous fun, tasty local food and authentic rural culture at Bunker's Hill Cultural Xperience & River Tour in beautiful Cockpit Country, Trelawny Parish. Learn about Taino, Maroon, and other local heritage. Hike through the brilliant green rainforest. Climb up to caves once used by runaway Maroon slaves. Savor local foods cooked the traditional way over a slow wood fire while taking in the peaceful and restorative river experience. The tour start time is flexible, between 10 am and 4 pm. The duration is 2.5 hours and includes hiking, caving, and lunch. You can relax by the river after the tour.
Getting There: Bunker's Hill is located about 45 minutes off the main road from Falmouth. Access is hampered by poor road conditions including rough edges, washed out areas and potholes. The driving conditions are challenging. Transportation can be arranged with local taxi-guide drivers. Costs are negotiated directly with drivers.
Day 4 Ambassabeth Ecolodge: Rich Rural Life, Maroon Culture and Conservation in the Rio Grande Valley
Today your destination is the Ambassabeth Ecolodge in the verdant Rio Grande River Valley in St. Thomas Parish. Here, you will get a unique experience of Jamaican rural life and the authentic historic and modern-day culture of the Windward Maroon community. Experience remote beauty and amazing biodiversity. Visit the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Sanctuary. Hike mountain trails for a physical challenge, swim in pristine waters and look for rare and endemic birds, plants and animals. Eat fresh tasty Jamaican Maroon food. The tour start time is flexible, by arrangement with Ambassabeth. The duration depends on which trail or trails you choose. Plan on spending at least 3 hours minimum. Ambassabeth offers rustic cabins and we recommend you spend the night. The accommodation is very basic but the tradeoff is a six-star wilderness. The cabins boast spectacular views of the surrounding Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and UNESCO World Heritage site.
Getting there: Ambassabeth is located about 3.5 hours from Ocho Rios or about 1.5 hours from Port Antonio. The road is paved most of the way to Comfort Castle but in poor condition. Shortly after Comfort Castle, the road ends and you must drive down a country track for about 3 miles to reach Ambassabeth. Transportation can be arranged with local taxi-guide drivers. Costs are negotiated directly with drivers.
Day 5 Charles Town Maroon Village: Maroon for a Moment at Yankunku Prandes
Today you will visit Charles Town Maroon Village, Museum and Asafu Yard in Portland Parish. Here, you will experience the best of traditional and contemporary Maroon culture and legacies. This vibrant community is known as the haunt of Quao, Maroon leader and hero. Enjoy authentic Maroon cuisine, herbs and healing, Asafu museum, traditional and cultural expressions, and guided hikes. Live like a Maroon for a moment! The tour start time is flexible, by arrangement with the Charles Town Maroon Council. The duration of the tour of the Museum and Asafu Yard with drumming and dancing is about 30 minutes. In addition to the Museum, Charles Town has
several other experience options for groups of 5+ persons. These include Lunch, Hiking to historical sites, a Herb tour, and a Drum class. Basic cabin accommodation and homestays with community members are available.
Getting there: Charles Town is located about a 2-hour drive from Ambassabeth or about 1 hour from Port Antonio.
Day 6 Hiking the Trails of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and World Heritage Site
Today your destination is Holywell Recreation Area in Kingston Parish, where you will get out and experience a UNESCO World Heritage site, a biodiversity hotspot ideal for nature seekers. Pick from five wilderness trails winding through the cloud forest, bromeliads and ferny dells. Find fascination as local guides show you the park's secrets- green valleys, beautiful views, and unique plants, animals and birds. The hiking tour start time is flexible, by arrangement with the Jamaica Conservation Development Trust JCDT, which operates the BJCMNP. The duration of the hiking tour is about 1.5 hours. Holywell offers comfy rustic cabins, including fireplaces. At Portland Gap Recreation area, very basic accommodation is available in two cabins with bunk-beds or floor sleeping space. You may want to stay a night or two, adding on other tours offered by JCDT. The options include hiking to the Blue Mountains Peak, taking a Coffee and Nature Tour, or taking a Birding Tour.
Getting there: Holywell Recreation Area is located about a 1.5 to 2-hour drive from Charles Town or Port Antonio.
Day 7 Kingston: Free Day
Today you will have a free day to explore Kingston, the capital and considered to be the cultural heartbeat of Jamaica. In 2015 UNESCO designated it a Creative City of Music for its world-class music scene, from reggae to mento, ska, dub, rocksteady, and dancehall. The Bob Marley Museum is located in the late musician’s former home and recording studio. The recently Peter Tosh Museum celebrates the activist and reggae legend who was a core of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Trench Town Culture Yard, where Marley spent much of his early music career, is the birthplace of many famous songs such as No Woman No Cry. Kingston also has a growing local food movement and other cultures and nature attractions such as the colonial era Devon House mansion and the Hope Botanical Gardens.
Day 8 Portland Bight Discovery Center: Birds, Critters & Ecology
Today you will visit the new Portland Bight Discovery Center in Clarendon Parish, your jumping o point for discovering Jamaica’s largest protected area. Discover the secrets and stories of the Salt River wetlands. Creep down the boardwalk through the beating heart of the mangroves. Ride a silent electric barge for closeup glimpses of the birds, animals, and plants of this fascinating water world. Hear local guides’ stories about why it is such a good place to live. The tour start time is flexible, by arrangement with the Caribbean Coastal Area Management (CCAM) Foundation, which manages the Portland Bight Protected Area. The tour is offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and the duration is about 2.5 hours.
Getting there: Portland Bight Discovery is located about a 1.5 drive from Kingston.
Day 9 Treasure Beach Women's Group: Crafting Your Art Treasure
Today you will visit the Treasure Beach Women's Group Center for a hands-on art workshop. Let the artist within you come alive. Create and take home a memento of Treasure Beach, the Home of Community Tourism. Paint a Starlight, the signature pottery art product of the Treasure Beach Women's Group, enjoy a yummy Jamaican
snack and fun cultural activities, all while contributing to TBWG's community development projects. The tour start time is 10 am or 2 pm on weekdays, except Friday, by arrangement with the TBWG. The duration of the workshop is about 3 hours and the minimum ideal group size is 10. Arrangements for smaller groups can be negotiated.
Getting there: Treasure Beach Women's Centre is located on Old Wharf Road in Treasure Beach. It includes the Treasure Hunt Craft Shop, which sells locally made craft items.
Day 10 Cockpit Country Adventure Tours: Heritage & Caving Adventure
Today you will return to Cockpit Country in the Trewlany Parish, traveling to Albert Town where Cockpit Country Adventure Tours is located. The tours are operated by an arm of the Southern Trelawny Environment Agency STEA, which has been working in Cockpit Country Conservation and tourism since 1996. History, adventure, and awe come alive as they show you the secrets of this most pristine and culturally significant yet little-known part of Jamaica. You will retrace the steps of and learn about how the Cockpit Country Maroon warriors used caves, camouflage and guerrilla warfare to defeat their British enemies. Come, explore and conquer the experience for yourself. The tour start time is flexible, by arrangement with STEA. The duration of the tour is about 3 hours. If you pre-ordered lunch, tour length is 3.5 hours. Homestays with local families in Albert Town can be arranged. You may want to stay a night or two, adding on other tours offered by STEA. The options include a Nature Hiking and a Birding Tour.
Getting there: Albert Town, where STEA is located, is about a 2.5-hour drive from Treasure Beach.