There is nothing like bamboo rafting in Jamaica. I didn’t need convincing of this before my first-ever time on St Ann’s White River but after actually seeing it for myself, I can confirm it is not worth skipping out on. Moving slowly down the river is truly an experience in itself that travelers from around the world look forward to. With the Caribbean heat, the emerald green waters and the sounds of the river – it is a must-do excursion when visiting Jamaica. Here are some top tips, as prepared by a traveler, for your next trip to the tropics where you can soak in the true glory of the natural mystical energy of the river.

History of Bamboo rafting

Credit: Amara Amaryah

Bamboo river rafting has a rich history which is worth knowing before you take your first step onto the bamboo for a serene journey up the river.

Originally, bamboo river rafting was a means of transportation for goods such as sugar and other colonial activity that once ran Jamaica. It was an efficient way of transporting goods until one day it converted into an activity of leisure, to slowly enjoy the beautiful landscape of Jamaica’s most famous rivers.

Since then, it grew in popularity and became a key aspect of the Jamaican travel experience operated by local Jamaicans in the area.

Layer up

Layering up allows for the best bamboo rafting experience. Don’t expect just to be sat on the bamboo raft for the entire hour, you’ll have the opportunity to get in the river and swim, stop by some of the riverside restaurants (depending on location) or just get out to chill on the riverside rocks. What worked best was wearing a bikini or bathing suit beneath clothes and alternating between the layers depending on what I felt like doing.

A vast selection of rivers to choose from

Choosing your river has a lot to do with where you are staying in Jamaica. If you’re staying in Ocho Rios then you can enjoy the local White River which was gorgeous and not overly populated. If you’ll be by Portland then Rio Grande, the most popular river rafting option, is a magnificent river and your best bet. Martha Brae is located in Trelawny and is best if you’re based in Montego Bay.

Capacity on the bamboo raft

Usually, Bamboo River Rafting has a limit of 2 people plus a captain. Solo travelers will also find this to be a wonderful experience too.

Get to know your captain

When bamboo rafting you’ll have a captain who will guide you and offer you jokes, music, conversation and Jamaican wisdom (because Jamaican charisma never fails). While bamboo rafting, Captain Shawn let me experience the best that White River had to offer.

Hopefully you’ll develop a good relationship with your captain. Often as part of the trip you can enjoy drinks, limestone massages and even have a try at steering the raft. Be sure to ask for some local spots in the area, offer a tip and, of course take in the easy vibes with your new Jamaican friend.

Be ready for the most peaceful experience

Ask any traveler who has experienced bamboo rafting in Jamaica and they will tell you how peaceful an experience it is. While Jamaica is known for its blissful Caribbean beaches, unbeatable rum-infused nights and its pristine hills and waterfalls, the rivers on this island really are worth the hype. See for yourself, there isn’t a more peaceful way to experience Jamaica.


Credit: Amara Amaryah

Finally, come ready for the pictures and videos. This is a unique travel experience and you’ll likely want to capture this moment for the memories of feeling like royalty drifting down Jamaica’s loved rivers.