One of my favourite experiences while staying in Jamaica was rafting down the Martha Brae River. It came up in pretty much every ‘top tips/ things to do/ must-do’s in Jamaica’ blog posts that I read and seen as we were going to be driving right on by it between our villa in Ocho Rios and our weekend at the Grand Palladium in Montego Bay – it was a given that we’d be giving it a go!
The site was really easy to find using our satnav and it was pretty well signposted upon arrival. They had security at the gate which made me feel really safe especially as were going on our own rather than with a tour company; and they directed us through the gates towards to reception area. I say reception area but I mean a serious of modern huts, one for the toilets, one where you pay (cash or card accepted) and one for the bar – of course!
It was really quiet when we went, there were no queues and after our drink at the bar (rum punch for me and fruit punch for the boys, included in the price) we took the couple of minute walk through the carpark and down the steps to where the rafts dock.
I actually took both boys on my own to start with as Pete had a really back and it flared up just as we arrived. If you’re new around here then my boys were 4 and almost 2 at the time. I was a little nervous about it as you guys may know Jenson is wild and as we started walking down Jasper told me that he no longer wanted to go on the raft … that we’d just paid for and I’d had on my Jamaica bucket list for soo long!
It only took some encouragement from the captain telling Jasper all the adventures we’d have to get him to hop on though and then there was no turning back!
The rafts are pretty basic as you can see in the pictures, it’s totally doable to keep yourself and your belongings dry but try to keep everything in one bag and if you plan to step off the seating area and walk down the raft your feet will get wet so opt for flip flops! Of course the river is lovely to swim in so most likely you’ll be in swimwear ready to paddle anyway!
The journey took around an hour I’d say; it can be more if you stop off which there are plenty of opportunities to do so! There’s a picnic seating area and some vendors on the side where you can by local handmade crafts. What I loved is that they simply say hi, ask if you’d like anything and if you say no they smile and wish you well – no hard sells!
There was even a guy that swung out of the trees on a rope swing which the boys loved!
Around 5 minutes before we reached the dock Pete jumped on the raft from the side of the river; I’m so glad he didn’t completely miss out and it also meant I got to take over the steering for a while – a much tougher job than it appears!
At the end our captain showed us the crafts that he makes in his spare time. I think all of the captains have a similar craft and it’s a way of making a bit of extra money for them. We didn’t feel obliged to buy one at all but they were hand carved coconuts and Jasper thought Grandma would love one so we bought it at the end.
Just as we docked there was a photographer taking pictures; it did shoot the vibe from natural beauty to theme park for a split second but as we’d taken loads ourselves anyway we declined it and said our goodbyes!
The whole experience was just amazing; the Martha Brae river is stunningly beautiful and serene and even though I had images of Jenson diving into the water, one of us getting motion sick, my camera going into the water and us ending the trip with sunburn it couldn’t have been further from that! The boys loved it, so if you have little ones and are wondering if they’ll be fine on the rafts then the answer is YES – go for it!
Have you visited the Martha Brae River or is it on your bucket list?
Thanks for reading,