We were lucky enough to visit both Haiti and Jamaica during our Royal Caribbean Cruise;
I woke and discovered we had docked at Labadee in Haiti. I had breakfast on my balcony and watched the Haitian fishermen rowing out to sea. Had I brought my binoculars I would be able to confirm that one of them was wearing a Santa hat, as it stands it’s just hearsay.
We disembarked easily, using our SeaPass cards to get off the ship and made our way to our excursion. A boat took us out to the private Malfini Beach. As we approached the secluded beach my mouth dropped open, I couldn’t actually believe we were there. It looked like my idea of paradise, lush vegetation, white sand hidden in a cove. Apart from the seven of us there were a couple of families. Becky and Katherine, Head of PR for Royal Caribbean, elbowed their way past the others managed to secure seven sun loungers in a perfect spot overlooking the sea.
As butterflies flapped around us and we drank rum punch from a coconut (the only way I will drink rum from now on), bobbed about in the warm azure sea and just sat on our sun loungers punctuating the silence with content sighs and exclamations of “Are we really here?”. I was incredibly sad when the boat returned to pick us up. While sipping on rum we had hatched a cunning plan to sabotage the boat so we’d never have to leave, however this was hindered by the level of relaxation we all felt having spent a couple of hours lazing about and bobbing in the sea. When the boat arrived we had to peel ourselves off our sun loungers and reluctantly, and slowly climb aboard.
We travelled back to Labadee where there was a HUGE BBQ lunch for everyone who had disembarked. We sat by the beach and ate (again included at no extra charge). I worried that the quality may be compromised by so much food being prepared for so many people but I was wrong, the food was excellent.
The Castaway at Malfini Beach experience lasts for 3 hours and costs $65 per person.
The next morning we docked in Falmouth, Jamaica, and once we disembarked got on a mini bus with our driver Tarzan (Yes, really) and our guide Wilanna. As we drove through Jamaica Wilanna told us all about the areas we were driving through. She also taught us some Patois, much to Erica’s joy.
First up was the Papillon Cove Horseback Ride and Swim. Having not ridden a horse for many years I was a bit nervous, but once I was on the horse I was fine. We went on a nature trail taking in the different trees, butterflies and sea views. Just look at that sea!
When we returned to the ranch we ditched the saddles, put on floatation devices and rode out across Papillon Cove into the sea which was a fantastic experience. As we rode out to sea clinging on to our horses for dear life, I was mildly hysterical, laughing as Erica fell in and had to be rescued and Liz’s horse decided to bolt through the shallows. We then returned to the ranch for some Jerk chicken, which had been cooking on the BBQ during our horse riding, and tried to dry out.
After buying some Jerk chicken sauce in the shop and sniggering over a t-shirt that said ‘I did it bareback in Jamaica’ we got back in our minibus to travel to Dunn’s River Falls, a waterfall which is 950 feet. We hired water shoes ($7) although you’d be fine with anything you a) don’t mind getting wet, b) has a bit of grip and c) doesn’t have big holes for the pebbles to get through. We set off with our guide and a guy with a camera. Climbing the falls was a great experience, every so often there were pools that we could wallow in and small slides. I went down one of the slides, when I emerged out of the water I panicked that my top had come up. Luckily, our ever helpful guide shouted “England, your coconuts are still in”. Phew.
On the way back to the ship Wilanna, sensing that we were all shattered, stopped talking and cranked up some Bob Marley and we sang along. We returned to our ship, exhausted, slightly damp but really pleased to have picked our once in a lifetime excursions. We bought more jerk seasoning, and I bought the 7 year old a Jamaican football top from the port shop.
I would be hard pushed to pick a facourite activity as all three were amazing and possibly things I’ll never experience again. I have decided, though, that by hook or by crook I will return to Jamaica again!
The Dunns River Falls/Papillion cove horseback ride, including bareback riding in the Caribbean sea costs $139 including Jamaican lunch and lasts approximately 7 hours
Read my other posts in my Royal Caribbean series;