The Majestic Blue Mountains
Lush source of the mellow, world-famous Blue Mountain coffee, Jamaica’s longest mountain range is nature at its best, seemingly a world away from nearby bustling, noisy Kingston. In these mountains, 7,400 feet above sea level, the air is cool, the views—of villages and falls across the mountains—are magnificent, and yes, the peaks look blue. The winding, narrow roads, though occasionally nerve-wracking, add to the overall mystical atmosphere. A handful of hotels and cabins, including the prestigious Strawberry Hill, provide lodging. Staying in the mountains overnight is highly recommended so you can take the famous sunrise summit hike.
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Hike to the Summit
Feeling adventurous? Hike to the top of Jamaica’s tallest peak, up to 7,000 feet, to catch the sunrise. This trail is well marked, but you’ll likely start in the dark of night, around 2 a.m. Arrange for a guide through your guesthouse, especially if you are new to this sort of climb and need more than a flashlight to find your way. It takes about three to four hours, depending on pace. If you’re lucky, the weather will cooperate and you’ll get rewarded with a spectacular view from the top and a great start to your day.
Bike Down the Blue Mountains
An even more thrilling way to absorb the gorgeous scenery of the Blue Mountains—winding past waterfalls, birds, and lush rain forest—is to hop on a mountain bike. Sign up for a downhill cycling tour, offered by area lodges or by Blue Mountain Bicycle Tours—picking up from Ocho Rios, Kingston, or the Hardwar Gap trail—who have the most solid equipment for this type of terrain. At the end, you’ll get to cool off in one of those waterfalls you spotted along the way.
Tour a Coffee Plantation
Hop on a one-hour guided coffee trail—if you’re not fit to hike, best to sit this one out—with Craighton Estate, a 200-year-old coffee plantation and number-one exporter of Blue Mountain Coffee. Learn all about the planting of one of the world's most wanted and expensive coffee beans. It's also a great opportunity to buy fresh coffee directly from the source. More than likely, you’ll be distracted by the stunning views of the mountains ahead. Another great pick for a coffee tour is the Jamaican-owned Standing Spring Plantation.