As one of the largest islands in the Caribbean, the diversity of terrain in Jamaica means there's ample amount of wilderness for visitors to explore. And there's more to do in this tropical paradise besides lying on the beach. Adventurous travelers should make use of the gorgeous hiking trails that can be found throughout the country. Between the Port Royal Mountains to the South and the famous Blue Mountains outside Kingston, there's no shortage of breathtaking vistas to conquer and enjoy while you're traveling in Jamaica. Read on for the seven best hiking trails to explore during your trip.
Blue Mountain Peak Trail
Adventurous travelers would be remiss to visit Jamaica and not conquer its highest summit, which is located at 7,402 feet atop the Blue Mountain Peak Trail. This 14-mile hike takes you through gorgeous scenery on your way to the top. And, coffee lovers, rejoice: This trail takes you throughout the part of the country that's world-renowned for its Blue Mountain Coffee. A helpful traveler’s tip, in case you need to caffeinate during your journey.
One Love Trail
Located in the gorgeous seaside town of Ocho Rios, in St. Ann, this trail is less challenging than some of the others, but it worth it for the stunning views. One Love Trail departs from the Island Village shopping center (adjacent to the pier), and heads to Dunn’s River Falls. The entire round-trip circuit is less than 4 miles long, and the paved trail also makes this excursion perfect for runners who are looking to burn a little more calories on vacation. (Also: Who can resist a hike named after a Bob Marley song?)
Mount Zion Trail
This trail takes you up to Mount Zion Village, a tiny, rural community just outside of Montego Bay. The path begins near the Cinnamon Hill golf course and winds up through hills and jungles before reaching Mount Zion Village. The trail is 4.8 miles round-trip, and you will feel lightyears away from the tourists and crowds of Montego Bay when you arrive at your final destination about halfway through the trail. We recommend opting for a Red Stripe, or some rum (always a good choice in Jamaica), at the local rum shop located within the village. Cheers!
Oatley Mountain Trail
Located in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, the Oatley Mountain Trail can be found in Hollywell Park, a region of the national park a little more than 10 miles north of Kingston. The trek takes you up to the 4,395-foot Oatley Mountain, offering a spectacular vista of St. Andrew and Portland. Although this specific loop is only 0.7 miles, Hollywell Park has nine miles of trails, and you can always add additional routes onto your hiking outing if you’re feeling up for it.
Mayfield Falls River Hike
For this one, we’re back to chasing waterfalls (yes, multiple) on the northeast coast of Jamaica with a hike up the Mayfield River to Mayfield Falls. Nicknamed "the Washing Machine," the Mayfield River is located in the Dolphin Head Mountains near Westmoreland, roughly an hour’s drive from Negril. There are guides (recommended) and lockers available at the trail head, and visitors should prepare to get wet: There are moments on the journey when you will find yourself traversing through the river itself. The climb itself is worth it for the lush greenery and two waterfalls to splash around in as a reward. Visitors should allocate a minimum of 45 minutes for the journey, but leisurely travelers could easily spend hours exploring this beautiful part of Jamaica on a sunny afternoon.
Cockpit Country Trails
We recommend booking a local guide, as this is known to be the most challenging hiking terrain in the country, but the views gained by climbing the steep hills are very much worth the strenuous effort exerted to reach the top. Bird-lovers, in particular, are sure to be rewarded for their efforts, as a plethora of tropical (winged) species abound in this region.
Catherine's Peak Trail
For visitors who want to maximize views (and minimize their physical exertion), check out Catherine’s Peak, a concrete path that is just under a mile long and leads visitors up to a gorgeous overlook at the top of the 4,429-foot peak. The trailhead begins at Newcastle Base, roughly 45 minutes from the capital of Kingston. Allocate 40 minutes for your journey up to the top, and be sure to wear solid hiking shoes, as the path is known to get slippery.