Community Tourism in South Western Jamaica

About Jamaica · about Sightseeing

We had a fantastic day hiking in the Bluefield's Mountain and ending at the beach with a couple Red Stripes!

I have been to Westmorland Parish before several times including the famous Negril which is at the very western part of the Parish but my destination was Belmont in the Bluefield's Bay area. 10 years ago I was in the same area with my wife and daughter and I had the opportunity to meet a local taxi/tour driver named Wolde Kristos. He was our driver during our stay in Whitehouse 10 years ago and we have kept in communication ever since. He has a tour company that runs birding tours, off-the-beaten-path tours, as well as regular tours such as YS Falls and the Appleton Rum factory. www.jamaicabirding.com and Reliable Adventures Jamaica. I have sent several clients to him over the past 10 years and all clients have been very satisfied with his great service and knowledge. Not only does he have the two tour companies he is also a community organizer and mentor to many. He has been instrumental in building schools for the local kids, creating a fish sanctuary in Bluefield's Bay (which kick started other fish sanctuaries in Jamaica). He has been featured on CNN and in National Geographic magazine. His tour company is unique when compared to others, as it was the first tour company to have its entire staff certified in Team Jamaica, Tour Guiding, Security Awareness, and Life Saving Skills.

Once in Belmont I checked into the Horizon Cottages for 2 nights. It is a tiny place with only two cottages, which are basically on the water, no restaurant, no front desk, but spectacular views, nice grounds, kayaks for guests, a small beach with pier, and a great staff. Great spot for a romantic couples gateway or to just relax and get away from everything. The cottages are for couples and are small with a galley kitchen, outdoor shower, and verandah to enjoy western Jamaica's fantastic sunset.

The next day Wolde picked me up nice and early and took me to YS Falls. He really wanted to get me there early and beat the crowds from Negril and Montego Bay resorts. It was a great idea since I was basically alone for about 3 hours enjoying the waterfalls and its new natural pools. Once the crowds came it was a different atmosphere....worth having a guide who knows what he is doing! We spent the morning and most of the afternoon at YS since its grounds are spectacular.

We then headed to Treasure Beach (Jake's) and Jack Sprats for dinner and drinks at this famous south coast restaurant and beach. Treasure Beach area is a cool place; I really liked the coastal plains look of the area with the mountain range in the background. After a great day on the road we then headed back to Belmont.

The next day Wolde picked me up to go on a hike up the Bluefield's Mountain. Here is a nice description of Wolde's tour that he offers through Reliable Adventures Jamaica:

"Full day and half day Bluefields Mountain hikes are for the more adventurous who want to get to the top of the mountain - around 2300 feet (701m). From here, you can enjoy looking down on the turkey vultures as they soar below. Climbing at a steady pace on mountain paths and donkey tracks you will enjoy magnificent panoramic views over deep wooded valleys and old plantations. The route will pass through forests and woodlands, alive with the sounds of birds and see brightly coloured butterflies. The beautiful mangrove and forest fringed coastline stretching from South Negril Point to the northwest and St Elizabeth to the southeast is far below. In the picture-postcard turquoise and aquamarine Caribbean Sea we can see coral reefs and watch fishing boats at work in historic Bluefields Bay. On our upwards journey we will meet people in the communities as they go about their daily work on their hill farms growing pimento, cassava, yam. In season, we will taste some of the local fruits: mango, soursop, sweetsop. We will visit old wooden dwellings to see how the people used to live in days gone by without the benefit of electricity and running water. At the top of the mountain we will rest awhile at Rasta Roberts' small house and enjoy chatting with him. All guests on our hiking tours have the opportunity for a swim at Bluefields Beach. This is followed by a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters of the nearby Bluefields River. And, as you can imagine, after all that exercise, it’s time for total relaxation and a well-earned meal at a local seaside restaurant."

We had a fantastic day hiking in the Bluefield's Mountain and ending at the beach with a couple Red Stripes!

Bluefields Bay

The next two nights I stayed with Wolde at his home in Belmont; not only is he a great tour guide but a great host as well. While I stayed with Wolde we continued touring the area and headed to the Appleton Rum Factory. Great tour of the Appleton Estates which is in St. Elizabeth Parish North East of the YS Falls. Great drive through Middle Quarters St. Elizabeth Parish, Bamboo Alley, Scot's Cove or better known as "Border" for a fried fish and bammy (cassava flatbread) lunch. We then headed to Beaston Springs which is a small farming community just north of Belmont in Westmoreland. We really wanted to continue the great time and the flow of rum so we headed to a cool drinking spot in Beeston Springs famous for their mento music. We met some of the local community organizers and NGO's at the bar and had some great conversations. Definitely made some new friends in Beeston Springs!

The next day, sadly, I had to go home!

I really love Jamaica, lush, fresh, green, and the friendliest people!!! When you go to Jamaica you do yourself and the country a disservice by staying locked up behind the walls of your resort. You must experience the real Jamaica and to do that you must to go on one of these community-based tours, not a tour from your hotel/resort but really dig and look for the Ainsworth's and the Wolde's of Jamaica. You won't be disappointed!

www.jamaicabirding.com

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