When someone suggested that I do an 18-mile bike ride in Jamaica, I figured they’d had a little too much sun. But in the spirit of adventure, I soon found myself poised at the top of the Blue Mountains, strapping on a bike helmet and getting ready to plunge down a steep road. The next three hours convinced me that cycling is the best way to explore Jamaica’s gorgeous backcountry.
Most ships calling on Ocho Rios or Montego Bay in Jamaica offer the downhill bike ride as a shore excursion. If not, you can contact Blue Mountain Bicycle Tours directly to arrange a day of cycling through the Jamaican countryside.
The route is almost all downhill, starting at Hardware Gap, with its hazy views of far-off Kingston, and ending near Buff Bay on the northern coast. Along the way, you see, smell, and feel many of the things that make Jamaica famous: Blue Mountain coffee growing in steep fields, ackee trees bursting with the yellow fruit that goes into the island’s national dish, jerk chicken simmering at a roadside stall, and national icons like the long-tailed Doctor Bird and the blue mahoe tree.
Bike-mounted guides are poised at both ends of the pack to monitor traffic and road conditions, and answer questions about the flora, fauna, history, and culture. Brunch at The Blue Mountain Restaurant and Coffee Shop is included in the price, as is the Ting grapefruit soda that quenches your thirst at the final destination — a small waterfall and swimming hole to wash the road away before driving back to your ship. 21 Main St., Ocho Rios, Jamaica, 876.974.7075, bmtoursja.com.