Blue mountains private tour: incredible views in the Blue Mountains outside Kingston in Jamaica

Beautiful Blue Mountains Private Tour Jamaica From An Expert Traveler (2024)

From my balcony just on the eastern border of New Kingston city district in Kingston, Jamaica, I have had a perfect view of a bluish-green mountain range in the distance for a week. 

I really wanted to do a Blue Mountains private tour.

Every morning, I could see the magic misty atmosphere, transparent clouds dancing around its highest peaks, and it looked so tranquil from my lower venture point. Down here, I am surrounded by the city noises (Kingston is noisy!), where rush traffic and the occasional road rage transgress my walls. 

I also know that up there, the beans for one of the best coffees in the world grow! 

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The Blue Mountains In Jamaica

Incredible view of the deep green hills with infinite views outside Kingston in Jamaica on a partly clouded day
Incredible green hills in the Blue Mountains

Being the coffeeholic that I am and a natural mountain hiker from Norway, the Blue Mountains is, of course, a natural destination to explore.

It is the longest mountain range in Jamaica and includes the island’s highest point, Blue Mountain Peak, at 2256 meters above sea level (7402 ft). On a clear day, you can even glimpse the outline of the Cuban shores across the sea to the north! 

I am in love with mountains in general and endless views in particular, so I research the best ways to explore them as a solo traveler on the Internet. 

You can choose a whole day of hiking to the peak of the Blue Mountains, and from there, you have an exceptional view of both the northern and southern coasts of the island. Jamaica is actually super small!

I found out that when you head for the Blue Mountains in Jamaica, a really good way to do that is to get yourself on a Blue Mountains Private Tour, with a bit of driving, sightseeing, and a bit of hiking!

Blue Mountains Private Tour Day Trip

The hiking trail in the Blue Mountains during an afternoon shower, with hazy air amidst the green trees and bushes
Hiking trail in the Blue Mountains

The great thing about doing a private tour is that you have excellent communication with your guide for the day, and the program is not as rigid as it may be with bigger groups. It feels more like a road trip!

Several tour operators arrange Blue Mountains day trips from Kingston. You can arrange to be picked up at your hotel or other accommodation for a tour. 

I ended up booking my tour with Viator, which had an available outing on a top-rated tour on a Sunday I wanted to go, and that turned out to be an excellent decision! 

Local Knowledgeable Guide!

An old coffee bean storage in small caves with red doors in the Blue Mountains, surrounded by lush green bushes and plants
Old coffee bean storage

My driver and guide, Marlon, picked me up on the dot as planned, and I was the only person at the tour party for this Sunday tour. 

Lucky for me, Marlon knows everything, everyone, including all the shortcuts and off-the-beaten-track gems that any traveler would like to discover. 

We made a stop at a random bar in the mountains, where there was also a restaurant. There is a local guy sitting at the wooden bar while a lady bartender is serving him.
A random mountain bar

It turned out Marlon was not only born and raised in the mountains but also still lived there. He has a little house with his own pristine mountain water pump and the best view in the world, according to him. 

Already on the drive up to higher grounds, I am starting to get a feel for the perks of exploring with the guidance of a local.

We drop by the large dam that is the water deposit of Kingston (for future reference when we see it all from above) before starting the ascent, and he keeps telling me about all the places and things that we pass on the way.

The Blue Mountains Roads Challenge

An old coffee plantation map hanging on the wall of an old plantation house in the mountains
An old coffee plantation map

Although the drive up to the Blue Mountains from Kingston is really not a very long journey, we are covering quite a bit of altitude. 

Not to mention the excitingly narrow road that clings to the hillsides in a series of sharp turns starting as soon as the car starts to climb.

Obviously, there is no way of telling if there are cars coming in the opposite direction here (the road does not always have room for two cars either).

The mountainers have solved that problem by simply honking the horn just before every turn to warn any opposing vehicles!

One of the first things I learned while we wind our way up is that mountain folks are not Kingston’ers. 

The people of the mountains consider themselves a different breed than the city folks, and most of them would never consider moving down from the green hills and infinite views in the highlands. 

When Marlon was a kid, there were no schools in the mountains, he tells me. All the students had to walk down the mountain every morning and then back up after school. 

Apparently, today’s children have it easy, as most parents take their children to school. 

The Blue Mountain Houses Clinging To The Hills

A green and yellow bar and coffee place in the Blue Mountain hills, with infinite views of the mountains towards Kingston on the back side
A coffee shack and infinite views on its hilly side

Looking down the steep mountainsides every time we honk our way through a narrow turn, I feel a bit relieved that it was not my school route. 

Up in the hillsides, the view to the lowlands starts to emerge, and the city lies seemingly quietly between the mountain and the sea (which is not at all the case).

We started passing houses that are built in the middle of all the green, clinging to the steep hillsides! 

The wooden porch of an old coffee plantation after the afternoon rain in the Blue Mountains, the yard in front filled with green plants, and the hillsides in the background.
Mountain coffee plantation

The entrances of these houses are on the upside, facing the road, while the outer edge of the houses is supported by long, sturdy logs disappearing into the green vegetation below the house. 

Looks a bit frisky to me, but I guess they know what they are doing after generations up here.

We also passed a few villages on our way to the entrance of the National Park and lots of bars, churches, and even restaurants.

A small cake and chocolate shop in the middle of the mountains, with lots of cakes in a glass display in the venue with deep red walls
Mountain cakes

It is a Sunday, and while stopping at a viewpoint along the road, I thought there was already a party nearby, which actually turned out to be a service in one of the mountain churches! 

Coffee Kingdom Of The Blue Mountains

An old coffee plantation garden with remnants of the production still lying on the ground surrounded by green plants
Coffee plantation garden

Some of the Blue Mountains are part of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, which was established in 1992 and maintained by the Jamaican government.

Back in the day when Jamaica’s economy was dominated by sugar plantation slavery, slaves who fled ran to the mountains where they hid and started a free life.

They were known as the Jamaican Maroons, building their own communities and even waging several wars against the government from their sanctuary of the lush mountains! 

Today, the famous Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, which is super popular among coffee lovers across the world, is cultivated here between 600 and 1500 meters above sea level.

You can buy Blue Mountain Coffee in almost any shop, but make sure it says 100 % and not “blended.” You don’t want it diluted by any other coffee bean! 

Jamaica Defence Force In The Blue Mountains

A blue memorial plaque in the military camp, JDF, in the Blue Mountains
A remote military camp

In order to access the gate to the National Park in the Blue Mountains, we have to pass through a military base situated up here called Newcastle JDF Camp.

As a former military officer, I have to say that the view from this place beats most barracks I have ever served at.

There are absolutely stunning views, and this military camp has a long and interesting history. It was constructed in 1841 in order to isolate Her Majesty’s British troops from the locals, as the death toll due to yellow fever was extremely high! 

From its founding until 1959, Newcastle was used by British forces (and during World War II also Canadians) as a change-of-air camp for foreign soldiers.

When Jamaica gained its independence in 1962, Newcastle finally became a national Jamaica Defence Force Training Depot.

Blue Mountains Irish Town Where The Rich Have Mansions

A large secluded yellow villa in the mountains with a big garden surrounded by deep green lush forest
Secluded mountain villa

The rich and famous of Jamaica also like the mountains, which is why there is an area that resembles a village on a tiny mountain ridge, with uninterrupted views and full of incredibly luxurious mansions in the Blue Mountains. 

This road into Irish Tow is called Greenwich Drive, and it can, in many ways, be said to be the “Hamptons of Kingston”! 

Its residents only come up for the weekend to chillax above the noise of the city, of course often taking their helicopters to get here.

Much faster, no doubt. 

Hiking In The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains afternoon rain can get very heavy, luckily I am in the car looking out thorugh the windows of the water pouring down
Luckily I am in the car

When we finally arrive at the parking lot where the Natural Park starts, we arrive at the same time as the afternoon rain, just as I am about to embark on hiking in the Blue Mountains. 

Obviously, there were holes in my research because, due to the area’s topography, there are quite strong afternoon showers every day, and I did not equip my daypack for that. 

No such little mishap shall, however, ruin my hike, although I must admit it did shorten it quite significantly. Despite the heat in the city, up here, the rainy afternoon can actually get a bit chilly!

Views towards a rastafari village in the mountains, you can hardly see it amidst the lush green hills
Views from hiking

If you are also a camping person, you can bring your tent with you and set it up on designated camping sites around the entrance to the National Park or even rent a simple cabin. 

(I strongly suggest you get a tent that is reinforced with a double roof to help protect you from the rain. There are also little gazebos close by where you can hide from the rain).

My Blue Mountains private tour from Kingston was super well organized, and my guide, Marlon, was extremely knowledgeable and accommodating. I had a great day, although my hike, due to my shortcomings (weatherwise), was considerably shorter than I had planned. 

Definitely coming back up here with my Viking backpack in better order.

You can also go with your rental car and GPS and hike by yourself, following the well-marked paths from the entrance of the national park. 

Authentic Blue Mountain Coffee

At a roadside stop was this nursery with rows and rows of colorful flowers in pink and red, surrounded by green grass and bushes
A sudden burst of color

Heading for the narrow roads once again down the mountain this time, lunch is included in my Blue Mountain day tour. They also sell the real deal, the authentic Blue Mountain coffee – and not a cheap blended version.

But first I get an extra out-of-the-program stop at a very old property, a coffee plantation that has been up here since the 17th Century! So much history!

The house and garden are absolutely gorgeous, the colors are so strong and the vegetation is bursting with life, things are growing everywhere.

There are also traces of old coffee production around the plot, such as the old storage sheds for the coffee beans during the drying process and old stone grinding tools. 

Jamaicans Pray Hard And Play Hard!

The wooden porch at a restaurant in the Blue Mountains, with wooden railings on the right side towards the infinite view outside the photo. Small tables, and people enjoying the outdoors lunch.
Lunch with a view to the right of the photo

Heading for the narrow roads once again down the mountain this time, lunch is included in my Blue Mountain day tour.

On our way to the lunch restaurant, Marlon asks me to count the churches and the bars in this area.

Now, both establishments are far from scarce here in the mountains (or in Kingston), but apparently, the bar-to-church ratio in these parts is significantly in favor of the bars. Jamaicans pray hard &play hard, you could say! 

There are a surprising number of not just bars but also restaurants along the narrow mountain roads and among the little clusters of houses in the hills.

Most surprising, though, is that they are often fully booked, so it is smart to research here and book in advance. 

Although there is not a dramatic number of tourists stopping to eat up here, the locals make up for that so “better book beforehand than sorry”.

Not least, the food was of a high standard. A waiter, who was properly dressed and wearing a face mask, presented the menu of the day, and my scampi meal was exquisite. 

Along the mountain roads, you also pass a Red Light District (not the same kind as in Amsterdam), holistic natural spas, some B&Bs, a Rastafari village, and a lot of prayer houses, dogs, and people.

The mountains are buzzing with life, not just the green vegetation, so it is worth the ride up on the almost scary, narrow roads for the day! 

A decorative green iron park bench standing alone in the mountains in the middle of the wet greenery after the afternoon rain
A cute stop to rest

Wrap-Up Blue Mountains Private Tour!

Being the only one in the group for a scenic tour of the Blue Mountains certainly has its perks.

Any change of plans, shortcuts, or sudden ideas is always welcome. Getting lucky having a native guide was simply not my merit, but nevertheless!

Traveling like this is worth the price, I think; the experience gets so much more authentic and personal. But even if you go with a group, or by yourself, the Blue Mountains in Jamaica will show you its magic, I am sure!

There are a variety of tours and tour agencies in Blue Mountains National Park ready to take you into the green nature. 

You can do a longer Blue Mountain hike to the summit, or a bicycle tour, and organizers have pick-ups in Kingston as well as Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. 

Related blog posts:

Excursions in Ocho Rios: The Beautiful Dunns River Falls

13+ Awesome Kingston Jamaica Tours And Attractions From An Expert

Ocho Rios vs Montego Bay – Two Jamaican Paradises

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