Consider this: Blue Mountain Coffee, grown at a high altitude, is one of the most famous (and tastiest) in the world. The Blue Mountain Peak offers the highest viewing point in Jamaica and also the country’s longest mountain range.
If you find these two facts intriguing, you might want to book a tour of the majestic Blue Mountains the next time you visit Jamaica. It certainly won’t be your typical day at the beach or kicking back in an all-inclusive hotel on the North Coast with nothing to do. However, I guarantee it’s an adventure of a lifetime that will open your mind to another side of the lovely, picturesque island.
What to Expect
So, what’s to see on the Blue Mountain? Apart from the fact that it’s possible for you to see all points of Jamaica from the top, there are many awesome sights to behold on your way up. To begin with, there is a lot of mist, which at times can make visibility hard. There are also rare species of birds, plants and land animals to observe. In fact, you would probably be excited to know that about 40 percent of the flowering plants that grow on the Blue Mountain cannot be found anywhere else in the entire world!
But there is one other thing that cannot be found anywhere else in the world: Blue Mountain Coffee. On my trip, I had the chance to tour one of the coffee plantations, an experience which turned out to be one of the highlights of my expedition. I could have finished the tour after that and I would have been satisfied; the trip to the peak was just icing on the cake.
The Blue Mountain
One of the most beautiful and scenic places on the island, the Blue Mountain range carries with it a deep history, along with interesting facts to sink your teeth into. A journey through the National Park, for instance, will enlighten you about endangered species in the area.
The mountain gets its name from the bluish color that results from the peaks almost constantly being covered in mist and being awash with lush vegetation. Additionally, its highest peak is among the tallest in the Caribbean. It’s possible to see as far as Haiti and Cuba on a cloudless day. While this is a breathtaking view, it is not easy to get there, however.
Along the way, there are quite a number of places where you can either grab a bite and enjoy some authentic coffee brews, or lodge for the night (or both). Some of these places include Eits Café, Strawberry Hill Hotel, Blue Mountain Inn, and Portland Gap. There are also people living along the mountain slopes, who are pretty friendly and who can provide you with little bits of history and interesting details about the area.
Highlights of the Tour
- Sunrise on the peak: If there is not too much mist around, you can witness one of the most beautiful sunrises you will ever see in your life. Some people start the last leg of the hike around 2 a.m. in order to experience this.
- Newcastle: training base for the Jamaica Defence Force
- Stunning views from a number of vantage points: providing lots of opportunities for awesome pictures.
- Coffee, coffee, coffee (more on this later).
What to Bring – Come Prepared to Hike!
It is important to dress comfortably when visiting the Blue Mountain in order to get the best experience. This means not wearing skimpy or thin clothing; some good jeans trousers and long-sleeved shirt are ideal to help keep you warm. Carry a towel and a sweater or jacket as well, as it can get pretty close to freezing point.
You also need sturdy hiking boots or strong sneakers that have well-gripping soles for the hiking trail, as well as a flashlight for the darkness, and a decent camera for pictures.
Make sure you have a lot of space on your memory card. Snacks and refreshments are also a good idea, as the hike up to the top of the mountain will take several hours (and a lot of calories).
Coffee Plantation Tour
Authentic Blue Mountain Coffee is world-renowned for its distinctive flavour that true coffee lovers will revel in. On a tour, you not only have the chance to taste the difference, you can experience the entire process from coffee bean to cup.
The distinctness of Blue Mountain Coffee comes from a mixture of the high altitude, cool climate, and rich soil. Your tour to any of the Blue Mountain Coffee plantations will take you to a high elevation up the mountain as a result. Now, you can choose to do either a half-day tour or a day-long tour. Whichever you choose, you are sure to leave a lot more educated about the process of growing, reaping and making Blue Mountain Coffee.
In addition, you will get a chance to enjoy a few treats along the way, as well as sampling the coffee, of course.
Highlights of the Tour
- The chance to visit a fully operational coffee plantation.
- Stunning views of the Blue Mountains
- Guided tour where you’ll learn about the coffee-growing and reaping process + the chance to see it being roasted and ground. By the way, the smell is superb. I couldn’t wait to taste a cup of freshly-brewed coffee, especially while the beans were being roasted.
- Lunch at one of the lodges or back in Kingston.
The cost to tour the Blue Mountains varies. It is cheapest if you drive part of the way up to the mountains via Kingston. However, if you don’t know how to get there, it’s probably best to organize a tour through the hotel you’re staying at or with a local tour company.
As a result, your cost could be anywhere from about US$50 up to over US$200. If you plan to pay for accommodation at any of the lodges, it will also cost you more. Once you plan ahead, it’s easy to ascertain your final cost.
If you’re thinking about visiting the Blue Mountain, you have the option of hiking to the top, or just exploring some of its main spots, including the coffee plantations. You can also do both, but it’s really up to you and what your body can manage.
Whether you choose one or both, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience to cherish for the rest of your life.