The gentle breeze swept in from the ocean as the sun started to rise above the horizon. We sat on our wooden balcony overhanging the sand; nibbling on fresh melon and enjoying the beautiful scene unfold in front of us. There were no other souls around at this time. It seemed as though we were the only people on the planet.
Life in Jamaica had moved very fast for us, whizzing around the north and the east of the island trying to absorb as much of the beauty and culture that we could. So when we made it to Mangos Jamaica, the change of pace was very welcome indeed.
I’ve travelled to 43 countries so far. Have swam in between two continents, seen the Northern Lights light up the arctic circle, hugged Koalas in Australia, and hovered over Niagara falls (more on that later). I’ve been very lucky to have had some incredible experiences and couldn’t pick one travel experience as “the best day ever”… but our day at Dolphin Cove certainly made its case.
Dolphin Cove has been running for 15 years, it won the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Award for the Attraction of the Year 2013. Then in 2015 joined the Dolphin Discovery Group, the #1 dolphin company in the world. We visited Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios, in the northern part of the Island. It is set in a natural cove by the sea and is enveloped by 5 acres of rain forest.
“No problem” Javia chucked from the driving seat as we finally made it back to the car. The soft, cool leather seats and the sudden blast of refreshingly cold air were a welcome comfort. We had returned to the car after one of the best mornings of our lives in Ocho Rios, albeit about an hour and a half later than expected. Nothing was a problem for Javia.
The goal of the day had been to see and experience as much of Ocho Rios as possible, not just the tourist traps and all-inclusives. We also wanted to get an insight into the “Real Jamaica”. However our first stop had taken much longer than anticipated; we just couldn’t tear ourselves away from Island Gully Falls. I wasn’t sure how we would still accomplish our goal today since we were already so far behind schedule.
The sky was aflame over Alligator Head in the distance in Port Antonio, as the sun’s blaze descended slowly towards the earth. The breeze was ruffling through our hair and the chirruping of the animals concealed in the jungle grew louder. After a tiring day exploring the north east of the island, we had settled, cocktail in hand on “The Perch” at our hotel to watch the magnificent sunset. Arguably the best view we had had over the bay, it was the perfect way to wind down and finish our day.
Swinging gently in the evening breeze, my legs dipping into the clear jade hued river, the faint whisper of the wistful music carrying on the breeze. Life is good at Frenchman’s Cove. As I sat there on my swing, surrounded by lush forest and staring out to where the river met the ocean, the sun started to make her slow, dramatic decent. I wanted to stay in that moment forever.
Frenchman’s Cove was described in an old folklore tale as being the safe sanctuary for wounded French soldiers after losing an “explosive battle with canon fire and swashbucklers” to the British.
The now world famous private beach was made popular in the 1960s by the Hollywood stars and royalty who stayed here. The 48 acre property was purchased by Garfield Weston, the man behind Fortnum and Mason and Selfridges and developed into the first all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. This set the benchmark for all top-end all inclusive resorts and we were lucky enough to get to visit.
Exhausted, I fought to keep moving through the water. This was one of the most thrilling and exhilarating experiences of my life and I didn’t want to waste a second. As I pulled my hands through the inky black water, they would glow bright blue. Feeling like a super hero, every movement I made left a trail of light behind me.
We were delighted to take a tour to the Luminous Lagoon in Falmouth With Michael Currie of Faithful Waters Tours. Michael has been working in the industry for over 30 years and his charismatic personality and knowledge of the phenomenon and the surrounding areas really draws people to him.
“Jamaica Love, we wanna feel Jamaica Love” – Busy Signal
Floating in the Blue Lagoon, jumping off of a cliff at Island Gully Falls, watching sunset from a swing in a river and freewheeling through the Blue Mountains. I could stay a whole lifetime in Jamaica and never fully discover all its beauty.
As I sit here typing on the plane, flying directly away from this island that has completely stolen my heart, I feel such a sense of sadness and loss at all the things I didn’t get to experience and all people that I didn’t get to meet. However I can’t help but smile at all the memories; moments that stilled me to silence in awe and moments that truly took my breath away.
Gliding through the pitch black, feeling the wind gathering speed, pushing past my face and hearing the roar of the water up ahead growing louder and louder. I kept trying to swallow but the panic and uncertainty continued to rise up through my chest.
Tikal has been on my bucket list since the Mayans captured my imagination at Chichen Itza a few years ago. So imagine my excitement when I started planning my visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the wonders of the Ancient World. As one of the largest and most impressive Mayan sites, it would be an honour to walk in the footsteps of one of the world’s most mysterious societies.
After descending from the dizzy heights of Temple IV, it was already 6am and the sun was burning off the mist. The air was still cool and the jungle still empty of others, apart from our group. It seemed like the perfect conditions to explore this ancient kingdom.
Fumbling through the darkness, my eyes searching the small pool of light radiating from the torch strapped to my bag, concentrating hard, I tried to keep up with our guide. It was 4:30am on a humid and increasingly warm spring morning and he was expertly and speedily navigating through the Guatemalan jungle with 20 or so sleepy tourists following in his wake.
After only 2.5 hours of sleep, an hour minibus ride and a gallon of insect repellent, I was finally fulfilling my dream of seeing Tikal at sunrise.