Jamaicans and “Jamaicans at heart” join me on a trip along the scenic, unspoiled landscape of the South Coast

For many Jamaicans living abroad, it used to be that a trip home was merely a visit to reconnect with family and friends.  Today, however, technology and social media have brought us closer and exposed us to “friends” far and wide across the globe, bringing along with it their personal experiences.  We are given the golden opportunity to share these experiences, often in real time.

In many ways, this has been a boon for the Jamaica vacation experience, as we have now begun to see our unique and beautiful island through the eyes of our visitors and realize that we can too, can have these experiences to savor and share ourselves.

So grab a few of your friends, both Jamaicans and “Jamaicans at heart” and join me on a trip along the scenic, unspoiled landscape of the Southern Coast of the island.  Let’s venture into the parish of St. Elizabeth and make our first stop Middle Quarters, not only famous for its mouthwatering peppered shrimp but for the vendors who line the roadway with bubbling pots and wide smiles, epitomizing the warmth and friendliness of true Jamaican hospitality.

Here, our vendors don’t just want to sell you their hot peppered shrimps, cold bottles of Red Stripe Beer and fresh tropical fruits; they also want to engage you in conversation, demonstrating a camaraderie that says “you are one of us”.  They not only want to tell you about what’s happening on island, but they also want to know what’s happening with you.  Their query of “wha a gwaan” is not just a polite greeting but a genuine desire to know how you are doing.  So, let’s take some time to hang out with these folks.  We are bound to leave with just a little more knowledge of the island and a treasured memory; not to mention a deeply satisfied tummy.

Our journey continues through rolling sugarcane fields, guiding us on to the next adventure - the YS Falls, a former working estate and sugarcane farm complete with a factory that processed logwood, exported to Europe for making dye.

A ten minute jitney ride and we arrive at the magnificent cascading falls.  Climb to the top and play Tarzan or Jane while swinging from the ropes extending over the falls and plunge into the pools of cool mountain water.  For the brave at heart, there are the ziplines that crisscross the water jetting over the rocks to the base of the falls.  YS Falls houses a grill and bar where one can relax and have a bite.  There is also a gift shop where Jamaican craft and other souvenir items can be purchased.   www.visitjamaica.com/ys-falls.

After that exhilarating stop, it’s time to continue on through Bamboo Avenue, located in the town of New Holland, a nearly three mile stretch of road canopied by giant bamboo plants, at the end of which, vendors ply their supplies of raw peanuts, cashews, fresh coconut water and other delicious treats.

A fitting end to the day, our last stop lies on the outskirts of the town of Maggotty: the renowned Appleton Estate, where connoisseurs of fine liquor will, no doubt, find themselves in great spirits (pun intended).  The Appleton Rum Tour takes us through the entire process of rum-making - the extraction of the juice from the sugarcane; the making of the raw molasses; distillation using the same copper pot stills that have been in existence there since 1749, the Aging House and the final product - the finest rum there is.

A very interesting part of the tour is learning about the varieties of aged liquor that goes into creating the Appleton Special Rum for which Jamaica is so famous.  And, of course, there is the tasting, need I say more?

Before we leave, let us stop by The Estate Gift Shop & Restaurant Gallery and pick up some mementos of our visit.  After all, if we are going to post our tour on our social media accounts, our friends, at the very least, will probably expect to be gifted with a small sample bottle on our return home. www.visitjamaica.com/appleton-estate-rum-tour.

So there we have it.  But, be forewarned, it’s not time to leave just yet.  This is only a small part of what the South Coast has to offer.  If you would like to do some research before we resume the next segment of this tour, log on to www.visitjamaica.com/explore-the-island/south-coast.  Then, have a good night’s sleep and get ready for part two - Soon Come!

Go to http://www.visitjamaica.com/explore-the-island/south-coast, and start planning your south coast itinerary.