Funky arts and crafts shop near Bluefields Bay

DAY TWO — When I wander out of my bedroom in the morning, the coffee is already made and table is set for breakfast.

After my friends get up, we’re served omelets, bacon, and fresh local fruit.  Instead of cooking and cleaning up, my job this morning: simply to enjoy, to soak up the beauty here in our  Bluefields Bay Villa about an hour and 15 minutes from Montego Bay while the staff pampers me.

“You have to relax and let people take care of you,” offers Bill Hawkins, who has vacationed here with his family from Maryland four times.  “Sometimes that’s not easy.”

After breakfast, it is time to explore the local area. Our driver Percy Baldwin first takes us to the Black River—at 44 miles the longest navigable river in Jamaica. We’re only going to cruise for about an hour down the pristine river where Crocodiles and birds live and mangroves grow. 

We’re told one croc is named Denise, another Phillip. There’s Josephine, Tom and Jerry. They all look alike to me. How do they know which croc is which?

Our guide Faith Gayle explains that crocodiles are territorial and therefore stay in the same area. He feeds them raw chicken so they come alongside the boat.   Some can grow to 25 feet long and live to be 80, he tells us.

Once we leave the crocs, we’re ready to get in the water ourselves. We head  inland  to YS Falls   a spectacular seven-tiered waterfall where we can swim, jump off a rope swing, fly across the falls on a zip line or tube the river, though that isn’t being offered the day we visit.

It is beautiful and serene, far quieter than Jamaica’s more famous Dunns River Falls.  Percy Baldwin serves us a picnic lunch—fried chicken, salad and banana bread—prepared this morning by our cook at Bluefields Bay Villas.

Local guide Arden Face leads us up to the pools. So fun!

 I’m glad we ventured out on the bumpy roads, dodging baby goats and potholes, waving to shy schoolchildren.  “The real Jamaica…real nature,” says Face.