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Splashing in the Sun

February 1, 2007 By: Joe Pike Home-Based Travel Agent
 

A case for exploring beyond Jamaica's resorts


What was the highlight of my recent trip to Jamaica for SuperClubs' 30th anniversary celebration? Was it riding on a horse named Burt in the warm ocean or cannonballing into a river? Making a beeline for the water

I can't decide.

But perhaps if you spend a week at the Grand Lido, Negril and have your agent set up visits to The Riverwalk and a riding outing with Chukka Caribbean Adventures in Montego Bay, you can decide for yourself.

At The Riverwalk ($69 a person including roundtrip hotel transportation), you will experience a terrific workout as you climb uphill on your way to the river. Water-based activities are highlights of a Jamaica vacation

You know those clothes you're never sure whether you should throw out or give to the Salvation Army, but somehow wind up keeping?

Wear those.

An old bathing suit, T-shirt and stinky sneakers are highly recommended. They will all get completely soaked and you will love every minute of it since the water is a much needed cool-down after the sweaty climb.

Now, you're not going to be experiencing Niagara Falls, as the Mayfield waterfalls are only about 20 feet high, but the river offers spectacular views and areas where you can jump from rocks into about 10 feet of water. Climbing a waterfall is refreshing on a hot day

Again, I recommend the cannonball—a jump that never gets old. I did about seven of them and would've gone back for more if I had time.

The tour guide, David, was excellent. This guy must've taken this walk at least a thousand times, because he knew every rock and drop off, every single spot of that river walk.

It's amazing how bold and adventurous you feel when you're in safe hands.

You'll find a similar experience with Chukka Caribbean Adventures in Montego Bay, where I joined the phenomenal Horseback Ride 'N Swim ($76 a person) tour. The guide kept referring to me as John Wayne, but I rode a horse only once before—when Reagan was in office. So, you can see that the 20-minute tutorial on the basics of riding a horse was pretty effective. The author, Joe Pike, with his new friend Burt

The guides were great teachers and very patient even when someone (no names) totally messed up their directions time and time again.

The ride was the definition of soft adventure. It was challenging, a little scary at times, but very relaxing. The sun was shining down on us as the horses followed the path without much effort by the rider.

At times the mountains were steep, and there is a portion where you ride along a very high cliff (I was too afraid to ask exactly how high it was). But, once again, comfort is the key to eliminating fear.

The guides, like David at The Riverwalk, were fantastic. My guide loved karaoke, and for want of a back-up track, put his guests at ease by serenading them with Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," among others '80s classics.

The ride was followed by a brief trot up to about waist level in the ocean. The horses (I miss you, Burt) love it just as much as the rider, so you'll get a kick out of it when you see them literally laughing as they hit the water. Once again, for this tour, wear your worst clothes and definitely wear shorts.

Of course, Jamaica offers the usual Caribbean gems as well—beautiful mountaintop views, clear, warm water and spectacular beaches.

True, parts of Jamaica (especially Kingston), can be dangerous but horseback riding along cliffs and jumping off rocks could be dangerous, too. But when you're in safe hands, danger is an illusion.

So don't spend the whole trip on your resort. Live a little bit—go horseback riding and jump off a rock or two.


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