No, tourism does not have to destroy the planet! For example? Those who try these eco friendly activities in Jamaica will be helping to preserve nature, whilst having fun!
By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Sure, the Caribbean is synonymous with beauty. But there are a lot of things that can destroy that. For example? Enormous cruise ships, forests cut down to make room for hotels, and of course, loads of rubbish and waste generated by tourists.
But there is another way.
When on holiday, we can easily learn how to integrate with nature’s pure essence. We can enjoy stunning landscapes, jaw-dropping flora and fauna, and local culture and food, all whilst helping to maintain – rather than destroy – it.
That’s why we decided to list a bunch of sustainable activities you can enjoy in one of the most visited islands in the world: Jamaica.
Here are just 10 eco friendly ideas that will help you conserve the nature and culture of the island. But we’re sure there are many more!
10 Sustainable Activities To Enjoy In Jamaica
1. Organic Food
Did you know? Jamaica is actually a cultural melting pot! And that’s especially seen in its cuisine. You’ll find loads of different influences, from everywhere from China and the Middle East to England and Spain.
But that’s not even the best part. The food here is really fresh, and often organic! As you may know, Jamaica’s national dish is ackee and saltfish, which is made with salted cod and ackee, a fruit with creamy flesh and large black seeds. It’s kind of like jackfruit, in the sense that it can be used in many diverse ways. But unlike jackfruit, this is a delicacy you can’t experience everywhere, since imports of ackee are forbidden in many countries, including the USA.
There are loads of different ways you can enjoy Jamaican cuisine. For example? Opt for local food tours, hit the local organic food markets, or take some Caribbean cooking classes. Definitely one of the eco friendly activities in Jamaica that anyone can – and should – enjoy!
2. Staying At One Of Many Eco Hotels
From monitoring cruise excursions in Montego Bay to promoting its local culture, Jamaica is committed to sustainable tourism. In fact, it’s part of the 2030 Vision plan that has this mission at heart. So it’s no surprise you’ll find quite a few eco hotels on this stunning island.
Check out the vivacious design of Jakes Hotel that offers a variety of accommodation options that allow visitors to immerse themselves in nature. There is also the Green Globe-certified Jamaica Inn that trains locals in tourism and hospitality and has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025. Another hotel with a carbon offsetting programme is the Villa Mocking Bird Hill in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, owned by a duo of businesswomen who are passionate about sustainable tourism.
The list of nature-friendly residences could go on and on. Basically, Jamaica is the true haven for eco-conscious travellers!
Image: Jamaica Inn
3. Dunn’s River Falls
Sure, Niagara Falls is spectacular, in a grand way. But Dunn’s River Falls will startle you with their beauty, too. But you don’t need to simply look at them. Here, you will find plenty of activities to do, from hiking to zip lining.
If you’re fascinated by geology, Dunn’s River Falls will allow you to discover a bountiful variety of calcium carbonate, travertine and tufa. In fact, these waterfalls are considered a living phenomena since these sediments are continuously formed and re-formed by the fresh spring water.
4. Blue Mountain Hikes
Another of the eco friendly activities in Jamaica that’s unmissable is simply hiking.
Avid walkers will undoubtedly hanker to hike around the Blue Mountain Peak Trail. By following this path you will reach the highest point in all of Jamaica: the peak is 2,256 metres (7,401 ft.).
Make sure to wear some good trail shoes, to cover a distance of 9.3 km (5.8 miles), that will take you about four hours to cover.
During your hike, you will be immersed in a stupendous landscape which is now understandably a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Observe the local flora and fauna – you’ll definitely see a few of the over two hundred bird species here. These include the iconic Jamaican Blackbird.
5. Exploring the Green Grotto
Another of our top eco friendly activities in Jamaica is a visit to the Green Grotto.
These caves, surrounded by an abundant vegetation and pristine waters, are very significant for Jamaica’s history. Several fragments of pottery and artefacts attest how the Grotto was first used by the indigenous inhabitants, and served as a hiding place for natives in the 17th century. During the two world wars of the 20th century the caves helped smugglers to hide the weapons that were sent to Cuba, and were also used as a secret storage for rum barrels.
From a geological point of view, the Green Grotto is remarkable for its labyrinthine limestone cave that features unique rock formations. Its stalactites and stalagmites create a magnetic setting for anyone who explores these depths.
Amongst the eco friendly activities in Jamaica you can enjoy, bobsledding is one attraction that allows you to admire the mountainous scenery of the island.
The rollercoaster-style ride starts at the summit of the Mystic Mountain and rushes down a path that cuts through the rainforest.
The gravity-drive through the jungle is an experience that is very popular amongst families, since kids can control the speed of the ride with a handbrake. Cool runnings indeed!
7. The Luminous Lagoon
No, you’re not looking at a still from Avatar! Though the Luminous Lagoon in Jamaica comes close.
The glistening waters of the luminous lagoon constitutes the only natural night-time attraction in Jamaica. The boat ride in this magical bay feels like a mystical experience that heightens the soul, body and senses.
The water crossing, which lasts about an hour. You’ll marvel at the eerie yet entrancing dusky light, and encounters with the sounds of many mysterious night creatures.
Nestled in the mangroves are microscopic organisms that release their bio-luminescent light when agitated. It’s this light that distinguishes the night-light of the lagoon. The water reverberates a phantasmagorical illumination. Fish dart around the boat, and you can even swim in the replenishing mineral waters of the lagoon.
8. The (Real) Blue Lagoon
Do you remember the coming-of-age romantic film The Blue Lagoon, starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins? Or its remake Return To The Blue Lagoon with Milla Jovovich and Brian Krause?
The locations were prevalently shot in Fiji, but also in the one and only Blue Lagoon that can be found in Jamaica. In Port Antonio to be exact. This is another of the best eco friendly activities to enjoy in Jamaica!
Lush greenery envelops the turquoise blue waters. These contain both fresh water and salt water, which is why the warmth of the Caribbean Sea alternates with the icy cold temperature of the underground streams.
You can bathe, snorkel, or take a raft tour in the real blue lagoon, that the locals once believed to be bottomless, but has an actual depth of over 60 metres (200 feet).
9. Music, Of Course!
The first thing that probably came to your mind with the word Jamaica is reggae! This type of music first came into prominence in Jamaica during the Sixties and has now become one of the distinguishing traits of the country. Bob Marley is the one who made reggae so iconic and contagious for its beats and lyrics.
There are also other music genres that are very popular in Jamaica, such as mento, that uses acoustic instruments. And of course, let’s not forget the grandaddy of reggae, ska. This upbeat music combines elements of Caribbean sounds with American jazz and rhythm and blues.
When travelling to Jamaica, be prepared to dance! A lot!
10. Super Surfing
The last of our eco friendly activities in Jamaica is one of the most obvious: surfing!
The best locations to surf include Bull Bay, Lighthouse, Zoo, Copa, Makka, Ranch, Portland Parish, Winnifred Beach, Long Bay, Outback, Navy Island and Boston Bay.
If you are wondering what season is best to ride the wave, book your Jamaican travels between December and March, or July through September.