So many of us feel at peace in nature, yet our daily lives are often far removed from it. For that reason, we ought to retreat to nature every chance we get in order to restore equilibrium to our lives. Jamaican nature retreats are rustic wooden and thatch structures nestled into the island’s lush tropical rainforest and rooted in responsible tourism practices such as serving organic seasonal foods prepared straight from the land. Many take it a step further by harvesting rainwater, and using compost toilets and solar electricity, while others double as wellness resorts by offering spa services, yoga and other activities to promote physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Learn more about the benefits of staying at a nature or wellness retreat, and discover 9 places where you can enjoy these benefits in Jamaica.
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Also, check out Elle’s travel guide to Jamaica on Amazon. It’s available in eBook and paperback, ships worldwide.
Reap the Benefits of Staying At a Wellness Retreat
Nature and wellness resorts share several similarities in that both are located in scenic secluded areas which encourage guests to unplug and enjoy nature. There are often birdwatching opportunities, nature walks, farm tours, organic culinary experiences and loads of swimming and non-motorized watersports available at Jamaican nature retreats. Wellness retreats and sanctuaries take this a step further by providing gentle coaching and programs to kickstart a healthy lifestyle. Some benefits of staying at a nature or wellness retreat and slipping off the grid include:
- Energizing your body with healthy organic foods fresh from farm to table.
- Getting in more exercise, which may not even feel like exercise when you’re out hiking, swimming and immersing yourself in nature.
- Expand your network with other like-minded individuals seeking the same benefits from their vacation.
- Gain some coaching and education to make positive lifestyle modifications.
- See some new clarity in your life.
- Catch up on sleep or rest.
- Improve your health numbers such as your blood pressure, blood glucose or weight.
- Connect with your spiritual side and supreme being.
Plan a successful week-long or weekend retreat by first deciding which of these benefits are most important to you. If spirituality and motion are your priorities, choose a place which offers yoga, tai-chi or even some religious affiliation and instruction. If you’d just like to immerse yourself in nature with nature walks and birdwatching tours, there are lots of places which provide this experience. Others may focus on a particular diet such as vegetarian, vegan or even ital food which is a Rastafarian pescatarian or vegan diet with no processed foods or added sodium. I’m not a user of marijuana or psychedelics, but you can enjoy these kind of retreat experiences in Jamaica too if that’s your thing. Psilocybin mushrooms are legal in Jamaica, but marijuana is only legal in small quantities of up to 2 ounces. Marijuana is pretty easy to access in Jamaica, but its cultivation is heavily restricted so be cautious if you’re coming to Jamaica to indulge in the substance. That aside, choose what you’d like to gain from your retreat and then book a place to stay at accordingly.
Take these items to your nature or wellness retreat if possible:
- Reusable water bottle
- Medications and toiletries
- Pen, or pencil, and journal
- Comfortable fitness gear
- Light clothing made from breathable fabric (e.g. cotton)
- A sunhat or cap
- Sneakers or hiking boots, sandals
- Fitness aids like a yoga mat or resistance bands
- Sleep aids (earplugs, eye mask, etc.)
- Sunscreen, bug spray
- A good book or two
- Backpack or light-weight tote that slings over your back
It’s important to pack lightly, and set that vacation email reminder before you head out of office. You won’t need too many electronics either, and remind friends and family that you will be disconnected for a few hours to days at a time. Now, let’s find out where to unplug in Jamaica. Note: You will need 4WD to access several of these spots, or you can hike or ask the staff/owners to pick you up at a convenient meeting place if necessary.
1. Animal Farm & Nature Reserve 📍 near Montego Bay
Animal Farm and Nature Reserve is an eco-tourist’s sanctuary snuggled into the lush tropical rainforest of Copse, Hanover. This 40-acre property has an abundance of activities available such as birdwatching, nature walks, learning about and admiring local trees and flowers, visiting the petting zoo and farm as well as bamboo rafting on the Great River which runs through the property. Meet exotic pets like Molly the cow, pigs, goats, peacocks, sultans and the ‘Rasta Fowl’, black chickens with a funky hairdo. Enjoy a day tour at Animal Farm if pressed for time, or get the full experience of this peaceful corner of Jamaica with a stay at their rustic wooden eco-cottages. An overnight stay at Animal Farm starts at US$30 per night for double occupancy.
2. Go Natural Jamaica Retreat 📍 Long Bay
Go Natural Jamaica is a holistic beachfront wellness retreat which allows guests to choose from a list of packages or create their own. Hatha, Yin and Kundalini yoga, reiki, self care, master cleanse fasts and detox retreat packages are available. There are also evening ceremonies around a fire (Full Moon, New Moon) and plenty of stargazing, relaxing, reading, swimming and snorkeling opportunities. Unless you choose the fasting package, there are lots of fresh homemade juices and gourmet vegan or vegetarian food options on site. Irie Dorm Rooms start at US$158 pp per night.
3. Bay View Eco Resort 📍 Port Antonio
The Bay View Eco Resort is enveloped by 30 lush acres of tropical foliage and overlooks the turquoise Caribbean Sea. The resort is powered by solar energy, receives its water from neighbouring springs and grows most of its own fruits and vegetables served at their on-site restaurant. Unplug and enjoy nature walks and birdwatching at the property, or visit the nearby Blue Lagoon, Rio Grande and Somerset Falls for additional entertainment, just to name a few. The hotel boasts thirty rooms and suites spread across five houses. Prices start at US$140 per standard room per night for double occupancy.
4. Ambassabeth Eco Lodge 📍 Bowden Pen
Ambassabeth Eco Lodge is located in the remote district of Bowden Pen on the border of the St. Thomas and Portland parishes in eastern Jamaica. This community lies in the upper Rio Grande valley, an area of which I am most fond but have only visited once with a day trip to Millbank in 2021. I dream of returning to this secluded corner of Jamaica renown for its striking beauty and biodiversity, and unplugging for at least a week while birdwatching, exploring its untouched waterfalls and trails, cooking outdoors and admiring the beautiful night sky. Ambassabeth offers visitors an opportunity to learn about Jamaica’s rich Maroon history and culture, while walking in their footsteps along the 500-year old Cunha Cunha Pass. Ambasssabeth offers a total of nine rustic wooden cabins with indoor bathrooms and hot water which can house up to 30 people. Prices start at US$70 per night.
5. Zimbali Retreat 📍 Negril
Zimbali is the brainchild of two Rastas, nestled in the cool Canaan Mountain located on Jamaica’s west coast near Negril. Zimbali is a sweet marriage of fine Jamaican cultural and culinary experiences. Enjoy African drumming, book a consultation with a traditional herbalist, take cooking lessons, tour rural farms and savour Jamaican cuisine on Zimbali’s cooking show and foodie tours. Explore neighbouring cool springs, relax on your porch or sunbathe and swim at the pool. There are several rooms, villas and cottages to choose from with Sweet Love rooms starting at US$80 per night for double occupancy during off season. All-inclusive meal plans are also available.
6. Holywell Cabins 📍 Blue Mountains
Holywell is a national park located in the tropical mist forests of the Blue and John Crow Mountains. At 900m (3,000ft) above sea level, Holywell brings a welcome escape from Kingston’s heat and is blessed by the fragrance of fresh mountain air and pine trees. This altitude allows Holywell to support a wide variety of ferns, flowers, trees and birds which are rarely seen in other parts of Jamaica and you can see all the way down to the Kingston Harbour. Enjoy this delightful view from the verandah of Holywell’s three cabins, namely Cupressus, Hot Lips and Mountain Yacca, which are named for plants within the national park. All cabins feature bathrooms, kitchenettes, fireplaces, hot water and Wi-Fi. Prices start at US$55 per night and sleeps two guests. Also, camping at Holywell is available. Learn more about Holywell here.
7. Log Thirty Three 📍 St. Ann’s Bay
How would you like to spend a vacation in a real life treehouse? Log Thirty Three makes that childhood fairytale treehouse dream come through. The cabin is ingeniously built from beautiful Blue Mahoe logs, Jamaica’s national tree. Inside is a comfortable self-contained studio complete with ceiling fan, hot water and other essentials for the comfort of the nature lovers. Log Thirty Tree isn’t as remote as other places on this list as it is located inside a gated community with 24-hour security and access to a swimming pool and tennis court. Prices start at US$60 per night for 2 guests.
8. Lime Tree Farm 📍 Blue Mountains
Lime Tree Farm is a working coffee farm set in the delightful Blue Mountains at 3,400 feet above sea level. Run by an affable couple, visiting their farm is like visiting the home of friends where the air is cool and crisp, the views are divine and you’ll feel as if time moves a little slower here. Keen nature lovers and hikers will find that Lime Tree Farm is the perfect launch pad for a Blue Mountain adventure. Stay at their five cottages, all of which offer a panoramic view of the mountains. Cabin Wood starts at US$155 per night and sleeps two. Find more photos and details about Lime Tree Farm in my review.
9. Rafjam B&B 📍 Irish Town
Rafjam is a delightful bed and breakfast set in the peaceful Irish Town of the Blue Mountains. There are several streams and a cold refreshing waterfall to enjoy in its backyard! Rafjam is another great base from which to explore the Blue Mountains, or idle awhile at their outdoor pool, spa and terrace. Prices start at US$93 per night.
I hope you enjoyed this list of Jamaican eco-lodges and wellness retreats. Look out for more lists of places to stay in Jamaica in coming weeks, and catch up on previous lists like the best Jamaican all-inclusive hotels, boutique hotels and villas. Subscribe to ensure you don’t miss them! Share, pin and bookmark this list to help you plan your Jamaican vacation, and make sure to pick up my Jamaica guide on Amazon to help you explore the best of the island.
Take care! ‘Til next time.
Disclosures: Nothing to disclose. At the time of publishing I’ve only visited 2/9 of the above spots. The other 7 places came highly recommended by friends and independent travel websites.