Jamaica is a beautiful island with just so much to take in. There is an abundance of wildlife, able to claim the broad expanses of terrain that has been neither developed nor commercialized as home. There are mountains and beaches, forests and wetlands. Traveling by car moves too fast to be able to really see the countryside, to really be able to appreciate all that Jamaica has to offer. The best way to explore natural Jamaica is by horseback, riding the numerous nature trails.
Horseback riding opportunities are widely available throughout Jamaica, simply because it really is the best way to view the flora and fauna. Rocky Point Stables in Montego Bay is one of many such establishments operating on the island. This one specializes in offering tours of local mountain forests.
Also located in Montego Bay is Chukka Blue Horse Back Riding. The two and a half hour long tours bring riders through rainforest areas, the grounds of an old sugar mill and its 18th century ruins, a small agricultural town, and a beach. The horses are healthy and well cared for and seem to enjoy their part of the journey, meaning guilt-free pleasure for the riders as they enjoy the scenery at a leisurely pace.
In Negril, there’s the Rhodes Hall Plantation, also offering tours by horseback. The tour guides know the area well and readily point out places and things of interests and know the local tales that go with them. New riders are treated with care and patience. Ocho Rios is the location of Chukka Cove Equestrian Centre. In addition to three hour long riding tours that include riding the beach, this stables has polo lessons available.
Hooves, found at 61 Windsor Road, Saint Anne’s Bay, is yet another place offering guided tours by horseback. They offer a wide variety of tour packages. Among these is the fascinating Bush Doctor Tour, which cost $55 per person and includes a variety of extras, such as transportation to and from the vacationer’s hotel.
Bush doctors, during the times of slavery, were the only medical care that the enslaved peoples had. These bush doctors were well versed in the arts of natural healing, and the medicinal uses of local herbs and plants. Even today, in many of the more rural areas, it is the bush doctor who cares for the people in times of illness. This tour brings the rider through beautiful terrain and explores, among other things, the places in which the plants important for health and healing are found.
The other guided tours available are the Rainforest Ride, the Beach Ride, and the Honeymoon Ride, each as unique and fascinating as the Bush Doctor Ride. Hooves also offers private rides and riding vacations. If you enjoy horseback riding or would like to try it out, this is a place that should not be missed.
Exploring Jamaica by horseback is an entirely different experience than doing so by motor vehicle. There’s a deeper connection made to the surroundings, a greater appreciation, born of slowing down and taking the time to really see the surroundings. That’s something far too few of us do in the hectic pace of our modern world, even while vacationing.