Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Family fun in Jamaica...

Whether you are at one of Jamaica's beautiful all-inclusive resorts like Beaches, or just cruised in for the day on a Carnival or Royal Caribbean Cruise ship, there is so much to do and see on this island. My family has visited the island twice. The first time we did Dunn's River Falls, which we loved. Make sure you wear some type of water shoes (you can rent them there too), and be careful with cameras as it is slippery in places. You start your climb at the bottom and work your way up, but you may get off the falls and use the walkway at anytime. Your guide will take pictures of your family in places if you ask. We forgot, but your best bet is bringing a cheap waterproof camera. Don't bring valuables you do not want getting wet, or you can rent a locker before getting to the falls. The guides were not rude at all about tips, but it is expected for you to tip them. We gave him $10 for the 5 of us. Everyone should do that at least once. We were there the day the Jamaican track and field runner won the gold in the 100 yard dash and the island stood still as he ran, then burst into an instant party when he crossed the finish line first. The entire island cheered in unison and Jamaican flags waved everywhere you turned.

Situated in the resort town of Ocho Rios in Jamaica’s “Garden Parish” of St. Ann, and only 5 minutes from the Ocho Rios Cruise Ship Pier in one direction and a short 5 minute drive to Dunn’s River Falls drive to the west is hottest new destination in Jamaica. The Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Mountain, it boasts over 100 acres of land stretching from the coast road entrance near Dunn’s River Falls to over 700 feet above sea level at the peak of Mystic Mountain. We took the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas tour here, and it was literally a blink of an eye from the cruise ship.

This ride features custom-designed bobsleds celebrating the Jamaican bobsled teams of Olympics past. Just like the guys in the movie. We sped on winding stainless steel rails 3,280-feet (1,000 meters) on gravity-driven ride through lush forest, on our black and yellow bobsleds. The rides takes about 6 minutes including the ride back up the mountain. The staff told us the bobsled track was laid around the natural landscape to minimize the environmental impact. We could control our own speed, allowing for either a leisurely tour through the forest or something a little more interesting. We got more daring each time we went down, since we could buy more rides at a cheaper rate while there. At the end of the ride, the bobsled slides to a graceful stop and is slowly pulled back by cable to the top of the mountain, completing the entire circuit in approximately six minutes. We were told the bobsleds go about 25 mph at top speed. Believe me it feels a lot faster than that. For younger children who may not want to ride alone, two bobsleds can be connected so the parent sits in the front and controls the speed.



Positioned at the park’s entrance, is the Rainforest SkyExplorer a state-of-the-art chairlift that sends guests above the treetops up 700 feet to the top of Mystic Mountain. The descent carries them through the heart of the canopy, giving them firsthand glimpses of the wonders of the tropical seaside rain-forest. Staff told us that the towers for the lift ride were brought in by helicopters to not disturb the ecosystem. You must ride this to ride go to any of the rides here, and to eat at the restaurant. You can also swim in their infinity pool which even has a water slide, while at the top.  My kids really liked it even if it was a simple pool. Do be careful, when we went, the slide was made of metal and was quite hot.  The 30-minute round trip excursion in an open-air chairlift take you through 1.3 miles of the rain-forest canopy. From the top of Mystic Mountain you can see Ochos Rios and the cruise terminal clearly.

We did not ride the Zipline this trip. It seemed very nicely done as we saw people zip through the forest, above our heads, as we rode the bobsleds. The secure Zip Line attraction whisks travelers through the rain-forest canopy, gliding from one platform to another.  The Zip Line tour consists of seven platforms and 6 Zip lines averaging 100 meters in length, with one 10-meter vertical rappel descent and one 25-meter suspension walking bridge.

There is a three in one package which offers: the Rainforest SkyExplorer, Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica, and the popular Zip Line. The SkyExplorer carries guests above the trees to the peak, then both the Bobsled and Zip line sends them speeding through the heart of the forest. If you want to experience all of them this would be the way to go.

My kids really did like Dunn's River Falls, but they loved Mystic Mountain. They played in the pool for over an hour, we ate lunch up there, rode the bobsleds, shopped and looked around for about 4.5 hours. I think that kids ages 6-89 would love this excursion. This 46 year old loved it. We took a shuttle back which were constantly returning to the cruise ship's terminal. We will surely be back to Jamaica. Hopefully next time to an all-inclusive.



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1 comment:

Judy1229 said...

Jamaica is one port I haven't had on a cruise itnerary yet, but I am so looking forward to getting there one day. Your pictures alone have got me thinking about getting there sooner rather than later! I always thought that Dunn's River Falls was the "big" attraction, but the whole Rainforest zipline, bobsled, waterpark area sounds absolutely beautiful and fun!