We did one long all-day trip. I’ll have to break it up because each thing we did is worthy of its own post, and there are a lot of photos. But first, some background:
Thirteen years ago, my family went to Alligator Hole/Canoe Valley to swim with manatees. It was a great experience. We traveled from Negril that time with then-small children, so once we were done with swimming, we went straight back to Negril. I have always wished that we could have stopped along the way back at Gut River and Alligator Pond. I made it back to Alligator Pond on a later trip, but never past that.
Gut River has been an item on my “Jamaica Bucket List” since then. I think most long-time visitors to Jamaica develop a list of cool places we’ve read about, or seen photos of, or heard of and want to see. Each time I travel to Jamaica I try to check an item off if I can. This time one of the group I was with had an interest in visiting Milk River Mineral Bath, and the rest of the group were the best kind of travel companions – they were up for anything and everything. So we planned to do this trip even before we left for Jamaica.
The coast road from Alligator Pond to Milk River is a “lonely road”. By this I mean that there is intermittent cell service, no towns or even houses or businesses, no gas stations, no electricity or piped water, nothing but a pretty potholed narrow coast road with bush on both sides. Not a place you want to have car trouble. Definitely a place to catch a glimpse of a wild and unspoiled part of Jamaica’s south coast.
At Lover’s Leap we were shown the “head” of the crocodile – just past Alligator Pond, and told the “tail” is by Milk River. This is the road we traveled, the length of the croc. Gut River, I was told, is where the croc’s gut would be, right around the middle of Long Bay.
But let me back up.
Kevin of Treasure Tours picked us up at Marblue at 11AM. We, joined by our friend Lee who lives in Montego Bay but came down to visit us for a couple of days, loaded ourselves and a cooler into Kevin’s high-ceiling comfy van and headed east out of Treasure Beach. As we passed through Junction we decided to grab some road snacks at Juici Patti. Juici is a Jamaican fast food chain that sells patties, coco bread, soup and other quick food.
While we ordered, I did a little shoe shopping with a vendor outside 🙂
Everyone munched on beef patty and coco bread sandwiches.
Until we came around a bend to a sign.
We actually didn’t turn down this track, this is a somewhat developed public beach area adjacent to the river. We stopped at a bridge spanning the place where Gut River emerges from underground and forms a deep spring-fed river. Clear and deep and cool, but not too cold.
I was the second one in 🙂
I wish I’d brought a snorkel, the rocks under us were beautiful and sparkly and the water was crystal clear.
We swam here for awhile, enjoying the “fresh”. When I came out of the water I saw Kevin chatting with an older gentleman on the road. He was gesturing with a machete and a couple of the group found this odd…but you know, if you have spent any time in the more rural areas of Jamaica, that a machete is a tool everyone owns. It is a lawn mower, weed whacker, pruner, tiller, scissor, knife…you name it, it does it. No self-respecting farmer clearing bush would be without one.
As it turns out, that is exactly what this gentleman was doing. He owns the property next door to the river and he has been clearing the bush around it, improving the access to the swimming hole and to the beach, picking up trash, making pathways. He lives in a house without electricity or piped water. He has
plans…he wants to build a gazebo and host church and school groups. He
wants to host overnight beach party camp-outs. He invited us to access the beach via his property and that is what we did.
Gut River flows from here into the sea, just a hundred yards or so
away. As we came at the end of a drought, the water was a bit too low to
swim all the way out. In this photo below you can
see the swimming hole by the road and follow the river as it flows to the sea.
As we walked through his property and out to the beach, we all gasped in wonder. It is very difficult to describe the incredible beauty of this beach with no structures, no trash, no people…just a long (7 miles we were told) beach fringed by palm trees and bookended by mountains forming the head and tail of the crocodile. I’ve never seen one like it. Better just to show you.
Here is where the river meets the sea. Fun to wade in the cool and warm water mixing.
This is looking back at the river from the beach.
And back at the beach.
These photos were taken by my friends China, Smitty, Danni and Tommy .
I could have stayed here all day, even overnight, but we were headed on to Milk River Bath to rejuvenate our bodies in some radioactive mineral water. I’ll get to that next.
Back on the road….
Continue reading this series:
9: Milk River Bath: It’s HOW radioactive??