Rosheda Stephenson calls NYC and the Caribbean home. Her travel articles are meant to inspire passion, adventure, and curiosity.
Hiking in Jamaica's Blue Mountains
This is the world of the Blue Mountains, Jamaica’s highest mountain range. The mountain range traverses approximately 25 miles and passes through 4 parishes on the eastern end of Jamaica. A hike through the Blue Mountains remains the most popular hike to do on the island.
The hike begins amidst the tropical finery to be expected in the Caribbean, but halfway up it starts to feel like one has left Jamaica and journeyed to a mystical land.
The tropical views suddenly get shrouded by a mysterious fog that is unrelenting in its pursuit and the warmth of the tropics slowly disappears, replaced by a cold air that one would expect in New York City or Canada in the early days of fall.
There is a sense of stillness and quiet that seems foreign in a land that naturally pulsates with rhythm and passion, and the appearance of coffee beans or other cold-weather fruit only signals that indeed the world of Jamaica's Blue Mountains is a strange and interesting one worthy of exploration.
The hike begins at and goes up a well-defined, 7-mile-long path. This makes for a moderate hike that takes four hours from the base of the mountain to the top if you don't stop at one of the campgrounds.
The path winds through lush, green rainforest thick with green trees and other greenery everywhere.
…But every now and then, bright, tropical-colored flowers would scream out from the greenery and shock us with their vivid Crayola shades.
More vividly hued plants highlight the tropical paradise that is Jamaica's Blue Mountains, and indeed, the rest of the island.
Alongside the tropical flowers, tropical fruits like this banana tree are just growing on the mountainside.
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The winged variety of life is just as colorful. Jamaica’s Blue Mountains is home to more than 100 variety of tropical birds that attract guided birding hikes every week. The beautiful birds can be seen or heard everywhere on the mountain.
There are other signs of life!
This donkey tied to the side of the narrow hiking path was clearly left there by an owner who either lives on or works nearby the Blue Mountains.
With all this colorful life and untouched nature everywhere, it isn't strange that Jamaica's Blue Mountain range has been named a Unesco World Site.
As one gets closer to the top, thick fog and cold wind permeate the air, shrouding the tropical feel of the mountain with mystery and chills.
At the summit, one is surrounded by blues and greens. Yes, the mountains are indeed covered with trees and other greenery, yet it all takes on a bluish hue that only adds to the mystery and is reputed to be the reason for the mountains' name.
The view of the fog, the clouds, and the rest of the mountain range is a sight to behold and a good payoff for the hike.
And lest one forgets, people and homes and families here are just trying to do their best in a land where tourism profits leave the country faster than Usain Bolt runs 100 meters.
Other Fun Things to Do in Jamaica's Blue Mountains
A hike is the most popular thing to do on the Blue Mountains, however, for those who want to experience the mountains but do not want to do the hike, there are a few other interesting things to do in the area.
Tour a Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Farm
Blue Mountain Coffee is internationally acclaimed for its flavorful taste and relative rarity. Only coffee grown on the mountain is eligible to be called Blue Mountain Coffee and even then, high quality control means only a fraction of the coffee actually grown on the Blue Mountains will qualify to be labeled as Blue Mountain Coffee.
With such exclusivity, coffee enthusiasts will relish the chance to visit an actual Blue Mountain Coffee farm.
There are quite a few farms that can be toured but whichever you choose, expect to do some walking as you learn about coffee cultivation and bean recognition. Some properties even include birdwatching as part of the tour!
And, of course, no coffee plantation tour would be complete without a tasting, so expect to sample some of the excellent brews and to purchase some to take home (depending on the tour). Book a tour through your hotel or travel agent.
Experience a Historical Jamaican Village
According to its website, when UNESCO named the Blue Mountains to its World Heritage List in 2015, the mountains qualified for both their natural biodiversity and its cultural significance in Caribbean history and the fight for freedom.
The mountains are the historical home to the storied Maroon people who used the geographical advantage of the mountainous terrain to resist slavery and help bring freedom to Jamaica. The mountains continue to shelter these interesting people in their shadows.
With quite a few Maroon settlements scattered around the mountains, those who prefer cultural tours to hiking will have plenty to choose from. Tours take place in air-conditioned vehicles that take scenic routes up the mountain before stopping to explore villages filled with traditional music and dance, and lessons on history.
Many of the tours also feature an additional trip to a nearby waterfall or river for a chance to cool down after all the action. To book a tour, check with your hotel or with the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park Organization.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Rosheda Stephenson (author) on May 12, 2021:
@Liz Westwood. Thank you! I'm happy you enjoyed this.
Rosheda Stephenson (author) on February 11, 2020:
You are very welcome. Blue Mountain's coffee farms are quite an interesting way to spend a few hours
Rosheda Stephenson (author) on February 11, 2020:
Yes! Blue Mountains like lots of other places in Jamaica is quite beautiful
Lorna Lamon on August 20, 2019:
Lots of interesting tips and beautiful photos, I would certainly love to visit the coffee farm. Thank you for sharing.
Sana Yasmin from India on August 19, 2019:
Liz Westwood from UK on August 19, 2019:
This is a very well-illustrated travelog.