Floating Down the Martha Brae River in Jamaica
Jamaica’s Martha Brae River is a natural attraction that we think everyone needs to see when visiting the island. The water and the lush, tropical surroundings are a beautiful shade of green, though you’ll be shocked to know that the water is actually crystal clear! Both bamboo rafting trips and river tubing journeys are offered, giving visitors a guided, relaxing journey through this green wonderland. We definitely recommend floating down the Martha Brae River when in Jamaica!
Our riving tubing adventure began near Good Hope Estate in Falmouth. The truck ride down to the river was some off-roading like I’ve never experienced. It reminded me of the Dinosaur or Indiana Jones rides at Disney or that scene from Ace Ventura when he’s singing “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”! You get the idea. I was either in complete awe of the scenery or giggling like a child for the entire ride.
Though the ride was bumpy (to say the least), the surroundings were beautiful. Even with an overcast day, the forest around us was bright and colorful. I always love seeing tropical plants because it reminds me just how far away from home I am.
Our visit to Jamaica occurred right after Hurricane Irma. We were originally cruising to the Eastern Caribbean, but the hurricane devastated those islands. We can’t wait to pay them a visit now that recovery has begun.
Of course, rain was inevitable on this trip, but we didn’t let it spoil our fun. The mud was thick in areas and the raindrops and river were cold, but between our hilarious guide and the picturesque surroundings, we weren’t worried about a thing! No problem, mon!
There’s a bit of a disagreement on how the Martha Brae got it’s name. Some say that it’s a mispronunciation of the Spanish name of the river, Rio Matibereon. Others say that Martha Brae was a witch who lived on the river. Spanish treasure hunters captured the witch, forcing her to lead them to legendary hidden gold. After leading the men to a cave, it is said that Martha disappeared and changed the course of the river, wiping out those treasure hunters. Which story do you like best?
We know that the Jamaicans love a great legend. Besides Martha Brae, we have also learned the story of the White Witch at Rose Hall Plantation in Montego Bay. Check out our post about the Rose Hall Great House and our possible ghost encounter!
Our river tubing guide fooled some of the younger guests with stories of crocodiles in the river, especially of one named Margaret. He would yell, “Stay away Margaret!” and slap the water hard with his paddle, splashing everyone nearby. While there are no crocodiles, alligators, or even snakes in the river, the surroundings do look like they could very easily be home to dinosaurs. Looks like a scene that could be in Jurassic Park, doesn’t it?
Ten people made up our group of river tubers, all of our tubes connected into a snaking line, and pulled by a backwards-paddling guide in a raft. The guides surely have arm muscles that are no joke. Because Mark was in the very last tube, he would sometimes have to push us away from the banks or away from overhanging branches, so he had the name, “Captain.”
Over the course of the trip, we would flip-flop as we glided along; sometimes the guide would be in front, leading the way, and sometimes Captain Mark, would be in front. Sometimes, the river was smooth, and sometimes there were small rapids. We would float frontwards, sideways, and backwards, and I think it’s pretty smart because we got different perspectives of our surroundings. It’s not easy to turn and look at things when you’re seated down in a tube with a huge life vest.
The bamboo in this area grows so big and tall that it eventually falls over. In some places, the falling bamboo created a natural arched canopy over the river.
Did you know that the Martha Brae provided piped water to Falmouth BEFORE New York City had piped water? That’s pretty impressive! The Falmouth Water Supply is famous for being the first in the Western Hemisphere. Needless to say, Jamaicans are pretty proud of their Martha Brae River.
Back on land, we headed to the bar area at the Good Hope Estate where we ordered jerk chicken and Jamaican rum punch for lunch. Have you really visited Jamaica if you haven’t eaten jerk? It’s a must on my list every time. I love that it’s never exactly the same because each cook has their own blend of spices and way of preparing the meat.
Our day at the Martha Brae River was fantastic, regardless of the gloomy weather, and very relaxing. We laughed, we learned, we got wet, and we got our bellies full on some traditional Jamaican food. Thank you to Chukka Caribbean Adventures for a great excursion!
Is this on your to-do list for Jamaica? Have you visited Jamaica before? What do you think of rainy vacation days? Have you ever tried jerk chicken? We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories, so leave us a message in the comments below!
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Jennifer is the founder of Just Chasing Rabbits travel blog. She lives in Mississippi with husband/travel companion, Mark, and three fur babies. After obtaining a BA degree in studio art and working in the field of photography for years, Jenni has combined her love of travel and photography to form this blog. Mark and Jenni share their experiences in hopes of inspiring others to have wonderful adventures and see the world.
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