FOR A BREAKDOWN OF MY LATEST ADVENTURE PLEASE CONTINUE READING THE BLOG POST BELOW!
I think by now you all might realize that I don’t like limiting one single adventure to a particular day. I spend six days out of my week in a hotel, so recently when I stayed at Couples Tower Isle for the weekend I was ready to check out and get on the road into the countryside. The Bandit and I only had a few hours to spend before we needed go get back into Kingston, and I wanted to check out an endz that I had recently heard about, so I decided to drive up into the more rural areas near Ocho Rios and go in search of this hidden oasis. Usually I would have my handy dandy Google Maps but my mobile provider decided that they were reclaiming their data plan, so I went by faith and a little bit of sight.
“Hidden Beauty” is the only name I knew, and all it mostly took was asking the locals to point me in the right direction.
The road you need to go on is called Thatch Hill road. Blue Hole is probably the most popular attraction in this area but I wasn’t looking for popular. When I was close to Blue Hole, I had to sieve through the five+ guides attempting to solicit their services, but thankfully one of them gave me the directions I needed after they realized I wasn’t planning on staying there.
“Just go up ih road and drive till you reach the end! Yaah go see one big big yard weh own by one Rasta man!“
[I always tell you be weary when a Jamaican tell you that a place is up or down di road! LOL]
After passing Blue Hole, I drove further up the road and found Island Gulls Falls, another popular attraction but not what I was looking for so I continued driving. This road split so many times I wasn’t sure which way was up, but I always persevere, and after almost turning back a few times I decided I had to go on and finally I saw the sign!
I had arrived, but the gate was locked and nobody was in sight. I almost went home [AGAIN] but after banging on the gate a bit there was finally signs of life! The man in charge – Mr. Karl Calby Williams walked up with a welcoming smile and spliff in his mouth. He let us in, assuring us that they were open. Hidden Beauty might be the most literal name ever given to any of the rivers I’ve been to, but it was so much more.
“Calby’s Place” [mostly known as Hidden Beauty] is actually a recreational property and bar hidden deep in the forest on the border of St. Mary and St. Ann. I came to find out that it is a popular stop along the Chukka Adventure White River tube tour, but as a paying patron you have direct access to the river, river tubes for rent, rope swings, picnic area and play grounds (football and volleyball), as well as rental of a restaurant area and camping grounds. Calby operates his bar and restaurant, but the main attraction is the backdrop, which is the river and its surroundings.
White River Valley offers many popular attractions and activities, but Hidden Beauty is quite a gem at the end of the road. The entry fee was $500 JMD and Hidden Beauty is mostly only known to the locals, so the only tourists in sight are just the river tubers that you will see floating on the river with their guides and photographers every 15/20 minutes. We did have a guide with us who showed us the best spots to swim and swing off the rope. There are two or three big pools of water to swim in, but the current is strong and the water is deep, so if you can’t swim or can’t swim very well you don’t need to be a hero; there are life-jackets for rent which do the job just as well.
It was such a joy to see the tubers going by and enjoying the natural scenery of White River Valley. These days I’m happiest when I discover the hidden attractions that are mostly untouched and undeveloped. Life is about balance. I give thanks for my job and the opportunities it affords me, because I meet people everyday who come from all over the world, but to be honest these days I realize I mostly find myself going out into the countryside to appreciate and experience the beauty of our island.
Next time I come to Hidden Beauty I am bringing the whole squad. The revolution will be televised (but if not you can just catch it on Youtube!)