On a recent villa inspection trip to the Half Moon Resort in Jamaica, I got to experience some fantastic activities outside of the resort and would I recommend you all do it? Absolutely! Of course it is essential to relax on the beach or by the pool while sipping a Piña Colada but I also think it’s super important to get a feel for the local culture, tradition and people of the Caribbean Island you are visiting.

The day started with bus collection at Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay, where I was on a Familiarisation Trip* with a group of other Travel Specialists. Our driver was a local man called Michael; who was a wealth of knowledge about everything Jamaican- this is true for all Jamaican drivers, as well as being excellent drivers they are also natural tour guides and very entertaining! An example of Michael’s laid back Caribbean approach to life- We hit traffic driving through Montego Bay town and someone asked “Is this rush hour?” to which Michael replied “I don’t know why people call it “rush hour”… Everybody goin’ slooowly. Nobody rushing anywhere!” He had a great sense of humor! I wish we could all deal with traffic the Jamaican way!!!

Crocodiles!

We arrived at our first stop – The Black River Safari, after 1 hour and 40 minutes in the bus that you don’t realize passing by as you drive through authentic and charming Jamaican towns…and come across some big potholes that Jamaican back roads are famous for. That’s the great thing about having a Jamaican driver…they know the roads and how best to avoid the potholes!

Crocodile at the Black River Safari

Crocodile photo bombs Emma's Selfie
The Black River Safari is where you can find REAL LIVE CROCODILES in their natural habitat! It was a great tour. It’s a 1.5 hour boat trip and well worth it! Along with crocodile spotting, we also saw giant Mangrove trees and many exotic birds such as the Jesus bird (it walks on water!). The crocodiles seemed to like bird watching too…while licking their lips!!! Our tour guide on the boat was feeding the crocodiles and even petting them while telling us some interesting facts about the wildlife in the area. He told us that while the crocodiles may appear to move slowly they can be very fast when they want to…Needless to say we all made it out of the boat alive!

Rapids!

The rapids at Ys Falls in Jamaica
Next stop was YS Falls which boasts a seven-tired cascading waterfall. I have also been to Dunne’s River Falls and I must say that YS Falls is not as commercialized and a more authentic experience. Although if you do get a chance to do both – Go for it! You could easily spend a good few hours at YS Falls as it has exciting canopy rides through the jungle and over the waterfall, river tubing, amazing views…it’s a great place for the adventurous! From the car park, we were brought up to the falls in a tractor trailer bus driving through farmland with cows and horses…it felt like being back in Ireland! Emma heroically swings across the rapidsThe Falls really are magnificent when you hear the roar of them cascading. I decided to have a Tarzan moment and rope swing over the falls! They say you should do something every day that scares you… At this stage I had come up close and personal to a crocodile so rope swinging seemed easy peasy!

Rum!

The Entrance to the Apple Rum EstateWe had one more stop –The Appleton Rum Estate Tour, which I would definitely recommend to do at the end of the day! All I can say is that rope swinging would not be a good idea after this tour…When we arrived we got to taste some real sugar cane followed by a real (very strong) Jamaican Rum Punch! We were told we were not allowed to do the tour without having some rum in hand!!! We got shown the old fashioned way they used to crush sugar cane and made rum all the way up to the modern way they make it…and finally, the most important part was the tasting the produce! We got a choice to taste many types of rum… I would advise to try the Rum Raisin Rum Cream! Definitely my favourite!

Back Home to Half Moon Resort

Sunset from Half Moon ResortAfter the Appleton Rum Tour, next stop was home to our luxurious rooms at Half Moon… We all slept most of the bus journey home. I guess the rope swinging and the rum tasting helped!
If you would like to organize any of these activities during your stay at one of our Exceptional Jamaican Villas, we would be more than happy to help you plan a Jamaican Day Trip for you and your group.

*Just in case you’re wondering…
What is a ‘Familiarisation Trip’? A FAM or familiarization trip is when members of a travel company or agency are invited to experience a resort/villa or product that that company sells. Exceptional Villas regards these trips as absolutely vital parts of our work. FAM trips are to ensure that we are personally familiar with all of our villas and all our villa locations have to offer.

About Emma O'Shea

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