When the Spanish came here in the 15th century, they were captivated and somewhat mesmerized by this large roaring river nestled in the lush green hills and valley of Portland. They aptly named it "Rio Grande", which was befitting for one of the largest rivers in Jamaica with a size of 3034km! Read: History of Jamaica
Fast forward to the 20th and 21st century and it would have transitioned from transporting produce from inland to the coast, to now, Portland's and by extension, Jamaica’s most iconic river rafting adventure - for both locals and visitors to the island.
Should I also add that this idea of rafting as an attraction was originally inspired by
Hollywood movie star Errol Flynn who fell in love with this heaven on earth parish (Portland) and made it his home.
Read more about Errol Flynn and other famous persons who lived in Jamaica here.
The river makes its way from Blue Mountains’ northern slopes and runs slowly through the hills and valleys of Portland.
There are different entry points to the Rio Grande - which will, of course, determine the length of your tour. A great starting point for your tour is at Rafter’s Rest, St. Margaret’s Bay in Portland.
Have no fear! The Rio Grande is the home of rafting in Jamaica for good reason! You will be in for a safe excursion of bamboo rafting on the river with a skilled, professional, and licensed raft captain.
No worries either. These rafts are carefully built with long bamboo logs which are expertly tied together to give you a comfortable space of about 4 feet wide and up to 30 feet long.
They also feature an elevated bamboo love seat or lounge chair for you to cuddle up as you head down the river while your captain provide historical facts and popular folklore about the place and the adventure. The raft typically accommodates two adults and a small child.
Your 2-3 hour journey will include a memorable learning experience of
Portland’s best flora and fauna, which you will not just hear about but
get to see first hand!
Jamaica's nature in all it’s glory is revealed for you to enjoy.
Do consider utilizing the luxury of having a picnic during the tour. Just be sure to let your captain know of your snack plans as he will recommend the best spot for you.
Ask about the famous "Lover’s Lane" spot! By the way, be sure to watch Dihalli's video below to get further insight into this unique Jamaican adventure.
And whatever you do, don’t forget to take your camera or phone to capture these moments of a lifetime!
You will be sure to come across art and craft vendors plying their
wares, local women washing clothes, the chatter and the laughter of kids
running and playing along the river bank without a care in the world.
You might just be in time to see fisher-folks spearing fish or with their catch of the day as well. In summary, we call it, #TheRealJamaica experience!
A Google Map is below, but arrangement should be made with your hotel tour desk or your local tour guide.
The distance is approximately:
Dihalli shares her experience at Rio Grande Jamaica on YouTube. Watch the video below to gain an insight on what you can expect.
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