For nature lovers, an escape to Portland will feel much like a visit to the Garden of Eden. Affectionately called “Portie” by locals, this area receives more rainfall than anywhere else in Jamaica, resulting in amazingly luxuriant tropical and colourful flora.

On approaching Portland, you are greeted by the majesty of the Blue Mountains, the longest mountain range in Jamaica and the island’s highest point which soars to a whopping 7,402 feet above sea level; the perfect height and climate to grow our famous Blue Mountain coffee, said to be one of the world’s finest.

Your rafting experience on the Rio Grande begins once you check-in and are assigned a raft captain who will equip you with a safety jacket. As your raft starts to float down the river, your senses become heightened to the ebb and flow of the rapids, the chirping of birds, the gentle rustling of the leaves, the soothing breeze as it caresses your cheeks, and the sun’s soft rays on your skin. Now completely immersed in Mother Nature, an overwhelming peace seeps into mind, body and soul, erasing all of life’s cares, awakening your spirit to Portland’s natural charm and beauty.

Now, depending on your preference, you may select a raft captain who is ready to engage you in conversation and impart all his knowledge about the history of rafting on the Rio Grande. Or you may opt for a captain who respects your privacy and will simply allow you to bask in the serene sounds of Mother Nature in all her grandeur.

Rio Grande Rafting 1_GemsofJA

About an hour into your journey, you will arrive at Belinda’s Riverside Restaurant, a unique country-style eatery established on the banks of the Rio Grande. For many years, Belinda has been catering to diners who stop to enjoy a delicious plate of Jamaican style curry goat, fish (fried, steamed or escoveitched), chicken, pork or “busso” soup all cooked on a coal stove. “Busso” is a small mollusc, like oyster and clam, found mainly in the rivers of eastern Portland. Its soft meat, and the soup made from it is believed to be an aphrodisiac. The main course meals are served with rice and peas, festival or bammy. Famous past diners included the “Queen Bey” herself - Beyonce, Daniel Craig and even “The Fastest Man Alive,” Usain Bolt who had a raft party on the Rio Grande. Belinda’s Riverside Restaurant is not open everyday so be sure to schedule your reservation ahead of time.

After a bellyful at Belinda’s, your rafting journey continues for another hour, giving you time to digest a most delicious meal and enjoy more of Mother Nature in all her splendour. For an extra flair and even more romantic experience, consider a late afternoon session, ideal for you and your significant other to raft into the beautiful Jamaican sunset.

Don’t forget your camera to memorialize this unforgettable experience with photos and videos. You will most certainly become the envy of your family and friends when they see your amazing Rio Grande River Rafting adventure in picturesque Portland.