An introduction by Dino
If you’re reading through this page because you’re looking for some information on Jamaica’s Blue mountains, you’re are one step ahead of me. I didn’t know Jamaica had such a treasure. I knew about the beaches, the resorts and the islands vibes, but I was clueless about the Blue Mountains. If you know about the Blue mountains go ahead and skip to the next paragraph. For people like me, who didn’t know about them, stay tuned and let’s run through a brief intro to the blue mountains.
The blue mountains dominate most of west Jamaica. Wikipedia will tell you that the Blue Mountains have about 7,400 ft of elevation, and are a World Heritage Site. The Blue Mountains are covered in lush green vegetation. In the morning and evening they turn a lovely shade of blue-green (which is where the name came from). Little clusters of homes and business cling to the steep drops. While only a dozen or so miles apart, it will take you 30 to 60 minutes to pass from one town to the other. You’re limited to about 25mph, unless you are a native Jamaican, a world rally drive, or very brave due to the windy mountain roads. Coffee plantations have been terraced into the Blue Mountains, which provide the cash crop for the region. Locals also grow bananas and others fruit, which will be for sale on the side of the road. The high altitude keeps the area cooler than the rest of Jamaica, which is a pleasant departure from the daily beach going temperatures of Jamaica. Bring a hoodie, it will get a bit chilly at night.
Tips for visiting the Blue Mountain range
Hiking to the peak
- If you are planning on hiking to the peak, you should plan to arrive the day before since it’s ideal to hike before sunrise. This means that you will need to coordinate your stay. There is everything from tent camping to staying in high end accommodations. The Jamaican Conversation and Development Trust can give all of the necessary contact information. See below for contact information.
- You will need a 4 wheel drive vehicle! The launching pads for hikes to the peak are in
pretty remote areas that are only accessible by 4 wheel drive. If you do not have such a vehicle, you can coordinate with your hostel/hotel to pick you up in a bordering town. We drove to a small town called Mavis Bank and were allowed to park at the police station. Our driver picked us up from there.
- The previous point brings us to the next, plan ahead! While we love having an adventurous travel spirit, hiking to the peak requires planning. It’s a good idea to call ahead and reserve your accommodations, even if you plan on tent camping. You can also arrange for transportation, your meals, and a guide for the hike.
- Keep in mind that some of the accommodations are very basic, so they will need to know to expect visitors. For example, we stayed at Whitfield Hall, which does not have electricity. We needed to inform them exactly how many meals we would eat in order for them to have sufficient provisions. It was a great place to stay!
- Hire a guide! It is pitch dark on the trail and you really do not want to risk getting lost alone. Don’t forget to tip your guide if you make it back in one piece. =)
- There is some controversy surrounding the fee to hike to the peak. Consult with Jamaican Conversation and Development Trust and whoever arranges your guide.
- CASH IS KING. DO NOT rely on ATMS in this area. People often accept both Jamaican and US dollars. Since we were running low on cash, we often mixed the two currencies and we were fine.
General trip to the Blue Mountains
- Holywell National Park is great for a day trip to the Blue Mountains. There are short trails with beautiful views. We camped there for one night and had beautiful views of Kingston below us. They have cabins as well.
- Have some Blue Mountain coffee! Support locals and buy some coffee. You can even schedule a coffee plantation tour. We recommend getting in touch with Coffee Mon (Holywell, Jamaica (876) 391-6311. He has a small farm where he grows produce and delicious coffee.
- Visit Forres Park Nature Retreat lodging for a delicious lunch and maybe even book a spa treatment. This is a lovely historic hotel. It’s very peaceful and lush. We did not spend a night here but we enjoyed a lovely lunch amidst tropical plants.
- Drive down the B1. If you only have one day and no time to explore the mountains, simply driving down the B1 will give you beautiful views and a taste of the culture. Be prepared to drive very slowly as the road hugs the mountain on one side and you have a view of a cliff on the other side. There will be small places to stop for provisions along the way…but do not rely on them! Have snacks and water handy.
- Contact the Jamaican Conversation and Development Trust for all of your needs from finding camping spots to help arranging for a guide. They will give you all of the important contact information depending on your interest. (876) 960-2848(9), (876) 920-8278(9), firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.blueandjohncrownmountains.org.