We took two trips with the Jamaica Tour Society. Both were very personal and incredible experiences unlike most of the tours offered by the larger tour-companies. Lynda Lee Burks (who runs the Jamaica Tour Society -who also accompanied us) knows the island (and it's people) like no one else and also seems to know what well traveled people want and expect (so: no commercial detours or chitchat). On her tours we saw beautiful parts of the island no one else ever gets to see and we got to meet some great (sometimes somewhat eccentric) locals who told us their authentic jamaican story...
The first daytrip was an exploration of the larger region around Montego Bay including Falmouth and the cockpit country. Lynda Lee picked us up at our villa in the morning and took us straight to Falmouth, a small well preserved historic town. The place was bustling as there was a cruiseship in and it seemed to be a market day. As Lynda Lee has written a book on historic Falmouth, she was the perfect guide and knew exactly where to go and what to see. As she knows so many people, she knew quite a few great stories about the place and also gave us some insight on the particular architecture of the town. After spending some time at the market, we hit the road again and went inland into the cockpit country. This is a must do/see for the scenery alone. The limestone (i think) hills/peaks are out of this world. The cockpit country also has quite a few old plantations and Lynda Lee took us to some of the nicest properties on the island (both private and public). We first had a quick peak at a cane sugar plantation but soon moved on to a large historic organic farm. It was set in beautiful lush scenery and we had a private swim at the swimming pond at the end of a small mountain river. We tasted some of the locally produced honey and had a picnic lunch at a really nice spot in the midst of nature. After lunch we continued our tour and made a stop at the small community of Bunker's Hill. We met 'Doc', one of the island's most prominent rastafarians who gave us an a tour of this wild herb garden and an introduction on rastafarianism over some of his home brewed fruit wines. We'll never forget doc's story. On our way back to Montego Bay, we had a stop at Border's Jerk, undeniably one of the best (and most amusing) jerk places in the country, where Lynda Lee told us all about Jamaican food culture and where we tasted some delicious jerked pork.
Our second trip was to Kingston and the Blue Mountains. Usually Lynda Lee seems to the Blue Mountain tour in one day, but we asked her if we could do it in two days so we could enjoy it even more. As we had a little more time than usual (and as we had told her we are art afficionados), Lynda Lee proposed to take us to the opening of the Jamaica Biennial at the National Art Museum in downtown Kingston (on our way to the Blue Mountains). It was a real eye-opener as we had no clue about the diversity of the contemporary arts in Jamaica. We also visited a side-show at Roktowa, the alternative cultural epicenter of Kingston. In the afternoon we continued to the mountains where we checked in at the charming Mount Edge Guesthouse. Lynda Lee then took us up for a tour of some Blue Mountain coffee plantations. We hiked through lush gardens and plantations from one historic great house to the other, where we learned everything about coffee production from bean to cup. Lynda Lee also introduced us to some of the first artisanal and independent coffee farmers on the island. It was really amazing to meet these people and hear their stories over a cup of world class coffee.
At night we had a delicious dinner at the panoramic outdoor deck of our guesthouse, watching the sun setting with the lights of kingston in the background. The next morning we first hiked through the guesthouse's farm to the small mountain river where we had a whrilpool bath between the boulders in the river. Then we hiked even further all the way down to (i think) red light along the gordon trail. We hiked through small jungle communities and thick bamboo and fern foliage, along small streams. It was a truely magnificent experience. On the road back over the mountains we made a last stop at a waterfall on -once again- a private coffee property. Earlier on our holiday we had visited some of the more famous and very touristy waterfalls in Jamaica, but this one was almost just as amazing as the other famous ones, but with the important difference that we had the whole place for us alone (at e.g. Dunn's river falls you have to look hard to see some water between all the people). This great experience rounded off one of the most beautiful trips we had ever made.
Thank you Lynda Lee and the Jamaica Tour Society for showing us the true and authentic beauty of this amazing island.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.