Jamaica is the land of wood and water, reggae music, rich culture, beautiful landscapes, and unique experiences. A popular attraction is rafting on the Martha Brae River, a winding waterway that invites travelers to explore its beauty through an ancient and eco-friendly mode of transportation – bamboo rafting.
I always find myself in the water on vacation, whether going to the beach, relaxing in the pool, exploring the ocean via a submersible scooter, taking a glass-bottom boat tour, or sailing on a catamaran. When planning our weekend in Montego Bay, I just HAD to add a water activity, and the Martha Brae river rafting tour was it.
If you’re planning a trip to Montego Bay or looking for a cruise excursion, we’ll delve into the enchanting world of bamboo rafting on the Martha Brae River in this blog post. Read more about our experience of Bamboo Rafting on the Martha Brae River in the town of Falmouth on the North Coast of Jamaica.
Martha Brae River Facts + About the Martha Brae Rafter’s Village
Bamboo Rafting on the Martha Brae is the #1 rafting attraction on the island of Jamaica. The Martha Brae Rafter’s Village is about 20 miles from Montego Bay and is in the heart of Jamaica’s Trelawny Parish. During the plantation era, Bamboo rafts were used to float sugar and other crops to the harbor before being loaded on ships headed to Europe.
Bamboo rafting on the Martha Brae dates back to the 1970s when local river guide Captain Noel Coward, introduced the concept as a unique way to showcase Jamaica’s natural beauty. The rafts, crafted from sturdy bamboo stalks, echo a time when simplicity and sustainability were paramount, offering a peaceful and eco-friendly alternative to motorized watercraft.
What to Bring for rafting on the Martha Brae River
The preferred dress code for this excursion. if a T-shirts, shorts & sneakers. Here is a quick list of what to take and what to wear for your Martha Brae River rafting excursion:
- Bathing Suit – Depending on the excursion you purchase, it may include swimming in the river. Bring swimwear.
- Water shoes – Water shoes aren’t necessary, but to make it easier going in and out of the back of the raft buy some water shoes with non-slip soles.
- Camera – Bring your camera or smartphone to take pictures.
- Waterproof phone pouch – Get a waterproof phone pouch to capture pictures in the River or on the raft with your phone.
Traveling to the Martha Brae Rafting Village from Montego Bay
Since we’re somewhat “spur of the moment travelers” and sometimes travel on a budget, we searched online to see how much our rafting adventure on the Martha Brae would cost. The best option we saw for our last-minute planning was via a tour called Jamaica Rafting.
At the time of our trip, the price was $65. This price included roundtrip transportation, entrance fees, a welcome drink, and the three-mile ride on a long bamboo raft on the Martha Brae River, which was about 1 hour & 15 minutes.
Bamboo Rafting on the Martha Brae River
After a scenic drive from our hotel, we were greeted with a welcome fruit punch and walked through “Miss Martha’s Herb Garden,” which included many plants and herbs used for medicinal and healing properties.
We received our welcome drinks and met our raft captain and tour guide, Danny. In addition to enjoying the scenery and pointing out various fruit trees along the bamboo raft ride, Danny navigated the river with expertise and served as a storyteller, sharing information about the surrounding ecosystem, the river’s history, and the Legend of Martha Brae.
The Martha Brae River is a thriving ecosystem teeming with biodiversity. You’ll see orchids, towering bamboo groves, and lush canopies of ferns and palms as you travel downstream on the banks of the river. It is also a great destination for spotting indigenous birds like the colorful Jamaican tody or the swallow-tailed hummingbird. Our ride ended at “Rafter’s Rest,” which had a bar, a gift shop to purchase craft items, a restaurant for authentic Jamaican lunch, & photo shop.
The Legend of the Martha Brae
The Legend of Martha Brae is the story of a Taino “witch” tortured by Spanish settlers looking for gold. Pretending to share the location of the gold, she instead led the settlers into a cave, disappeared, and changed the course of the river.
Another way to travel on the Martha Brae River is via a sunset bamboo rafting tour. The Martha Brae transforms into a mesmerizing dreamscape as the sun sets, casting a warm glow across the river. The play of light on the water, the lush vegetation silhouette, and the Jamaican sky’s vibrant hues is a beautiful site. Sunset tours provide a romantic and enchanting experience, similar to a gondola ride, perfect for couples seeking a moment of intimacy or solo travelers yearning for a peaceful communion with nature.
Bamboo rafting on the Martha Brae River is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s a cultural immersion, a historical journey, and a tranquil escape into the heart of Jamaica’s lush rainforests. It’s an opportunity to connect with nature, learn about Jamaican heritage, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Bamboo rafting on the Martha Brae River is a good tour to add to your Jamaica bucket list and one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had. Next time I’m in Jamaica, I hope to visit Port Antonio for rafting on the Rio Grande.