North of Spanish Town, and a little under an hour’s drive from Kingston, is the striking scenery of Bog Walk Gorge. The name Bog Walk is derived from the Spanish words Boca de Agua which means water's mouth. In 1770 the first road was cut through the Gorge, which must have been quite an undertaking, and it’s still an impressive route to drive today.
Halfway along the gorge, the road switches from the west to the east side of the Rio Cobre via the Flat Bridge, an 18th century stone structure which replaced an earlier wooden bridge. The bridge is unusual in having no side railings. This slightly disconcerting design helps to protect the bridge against the power of the water, which is very necessary – there have been times when a surge of up to 50 feet has been recorded here. And to reinforce the power of the river, we saw a rusting car on the river bed downstream from the bridge which Dave told us had been swept away during a huricane previous year. The bridge only carries one-way traffic, controlled by traffic lights, and either side of it you should be able to pull off the road to admire the view of the gorge, reflected in the still greenish water of the river.
Just north of the bridge, though you’ll probably need to be with a local to spot this, is the so-called Pam Pam Rock, a cleft in the wall of the gorge often likened (with some justification, it has to be said) to a vagina – see photo 2.
There is a market accross from Tivoli Gardens that you should visit. Make sure you go during the day as this is a rough neighborhood and some parts are very dirty. Have your driver take you and have him walk with you. He'll make sure that you're not overpaying for anything. This market gives you an idea of what everyday life is like for a lot of Jamaicans.
There is a market accross from Tivoli Gardens that you should visit. Make sure you go during the day as this is a rough neighborhood and some parts are very dirty. Have your driver take you. This market gives you an idea of what everyday life is like for a lot of Jamaicans.
Make sure you take a trip to Hellshire Beach. The fried fish and festival is must while you're there. It's a little expensive but worth it. It's mostly where the locals go so it's not manicured like Negril but you can have a lot of fun.
Ask your driver to take you to the best pan man to get some jerk chicken. Don't be surprised when he asks you for ketchup on your chicken because it's a suprisingly great combination. Jamaican ketchup is different. This is the best after a late night partying with your friends. Usually there is a spot where a bunch of pan men cook together. Make sure you go to the one that has a crowd of people around him. He's usually the best.
Ok. Well this is not so much off the beaten path in the sense that its far away. Quite the opposite actually, step out the front door of wherever you may be staying, and in 3 seconds you're there. It is off the beaten path in that most people will probably zip around in a taxi or rented car.
Take the time to walk to your destination (if feasible of course, I wouldn't suggest walking to Port Antonio from Kingston for example). Along the way you will see the city in a light you wouldn't be able to from the back of a cab. Sights, sounds, smells (sometimes unpleasant ones) and the friendly people. As an added bonus, you WON'T be hassled like in the tourist towns.
In St. Thomas, there are some mineral springs that are relaxing and very different. For those expecting a more antiseptic experience, head to the hotel, but for those who want to meet some real Jamaicans, ask one of the guys to point you toward the springs and take a short walk to the springs.