Some of the most devoted naturalists in Port Antonio are associated with the Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, which has carved a niche for itself among like-minded clients since the day it was established. The entity here that has laboriously researched every possible eco-sensitive excursion in eastern Jamaica is Jamaica Explorations, in the Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, North Coast Highway, Port Antonio (tel. 876/993-7267). They're experts in everything to do with bird-watching, butterfly chasing, Maroon history and culture, waterfall climbing, river-rafting, beach appreciation, spa treatments, art lessons, papermaking classes, homestays, Jamaican culture, and all kinds of air, land, and watersports. Even if you're not a client of Mocking Bird Hill, don't overlook these ladies and their encyclopedic knowledge of their district.
Valley Hikes, from a base on Harbour Street, in Port Antonio (tel. 876/993-3881), arranges well-choreographed hikes through the Rio Grande Valley. The hikes are conducted in a lush area between the Blue Mountains and the John Crow Mountains, with experienced local guides. Many different variations on the tours, ranging from 2 hours to 2 days, are available, one of the most popular and best being a 2-hour waterfall tour priced at US$35 per person. A 6.5km (4-mile) hike into the Blue Mountains, seeking its flora and fauna, can also be arranged.
Attractions Link, 229 Harbour St., Unit #10, in Port Antonio (tel. 876/993-2102 or 876/873-4808) also offers well-conceived exposures to the Jamaican wild. It offers one of the best bus tours into the Blue Mountains, with a visit to a coffee plantation and a picnic in Hollywell National Park at 1,518m (5,060 ft.) above sea level. Including lunch, the cost is US$80 per person.
Another excursion, this one scheduled from 9am to 3:30pm, takes you to Reach Falls and Long Bay Beach, east of Port Antonio and along the coast, where you can go for a dip. (Beware of the undercurrents on this beach!) Go with someone else who loves and enjoys a cooling dip: The cost is US$35 per person.
Attractions Link also offers a Tour of a Maroon Village, which, if enough participants have signed up, includes a visit to Nanny Waterfall and insights into the mysterious Maroon subculture, or at least what's left of it. When available, it's scheduled for a departure from your hotel at 8:30am, a return to your hotel around 5pm, and an exposure to some of the most isolated villages in the region. The cost, per person, is US$65.
One of our personal favorites is the company's Butterfly and Birdwatching Tour, which, because of the feeding habits of Jamaican fauna, requires an early morning departure at 5am, with a return to your hotel before noon on the same day, following excursions deep into Sherwood Forest, and the Reach Falls area of the Blue Mountains. Tours are accompanied with a trained and licensed ornithologist, and cost US$85 per person. Sightings will usually include the Jamaican crow, the scavenging John Crow, the Jamaican streamer tail hummingbird (the country's national bird), the (nocturnal) Jamaican owl, and a host of rare orchids and other plants.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.