Jamaica is known as the Land of Wood and Water due to its rich biodiversity and over 100 rivers. Not all of the island’s rivers are navigable and some are seasonal which means that they run dry outside of the rainy season. The rivers which last all year create lovely recreational opportunities such as swimming, fishing, bamboo rafting and riverside dining. Jamaicans enjoy cooking outdoors on woodfire or coal stoves as many believe that this old-fashioned means of preparing Jamaican dishes results in better taste. Cooking outdoors by the river is great but eating by or in the river is even better. Pretty Close 876 is a riverside kitchen and dining experience in Gordon Town, St. Andrew. Here’s how to find it and what to expect.
Before we get into the article, please subscribe for new articles & adventures.
Directions to Pretty Close 876
The name Pretty Close 876 came out of the owner Ramo (Omar) frequently telling people that his place was “not far, pretty close” and he’s right. Pretty Close 876 can be found on Google Maps accurately. From Papine, turn left onto Gordon Town Road and drive until reaching the town square, marked by this statue of Louise Bennett-Coverley. Affectionately called Miss Lou, she grew up in Gordon Town and is hailed as one of Jamaica’s greatest poets, activists and literary icons. Continue straight past the square then turn right onto Enfield Road. This is not to be confused with Penfield, a district of Gordon Town with a whole other set of beautiful waterfalls.
Enfield Road is quite narrow and only permits single lane vehicular traffic at points. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you have to reverse to give way to an oncoming vehicle, or just park down the road and walk it up to avoid any issues. The parking space just outside the entrance to Pretty Close 876 can only hold around 8 cars. After parking, look out for a brown wooden gate with a small ticket booth to the right. If it’s empty, feel free to open the door and receive a musical welcome from the rustic wind chime hanging by the entrance.
Riverside Dining Experience & Menu
You’ll likely find Ramo in the kitchen doing what he does best– running a boat (cooking up a storm). If you’re visiting just for the food or have a special request, DM or call Ramo in advance to place your order. Pretty Close 876 is an eco-friendly restaurant which utilizes dried calabash gourds and wooden forks as utensils. Ingredients are either sourced from Ramo’s organic farm on the property or from trusted local vendors. Meals are prepared and shared al fresco, and the menu is ital and seasonal. As I explained in last week’s article “Where to get vegan food in Kingston“, ital is a Rastafarian word which means vital for health and consists of fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes, and no added sodium, processed foods or meat. Eating wholesome food in a wholesome environment by the river makes for a great experience. Depending on the time of day, you’ll either be treated to the soothing sounds of the river or to reggae classics from Ramo’s speaker undulating on the mountain breeze.
The menu at Pretty Close 876 includes:
- Steam or fried fish
- Rice & peas (on Sundays)
- Plantain, green bananas
- Roast or fried breadfruit
- Callaloo and other steamed veggies
- Ackee (seasonal)
- Soup made without any powdered seasonings in true ital style.
Relax in hammocks while waiting on the food, then take your pick of sitting on a tree stump or by the stone terrace. However, the fun does not stop here. You can also have a real adventure before or after refueling with food like mama’s cooking. I opted to hike first which wound up a ravenous appetite– nothing Ramo’s cooking couldn’t handle. Prices were very reasonable, and the drink options include the usual (sodas, white rum, beer and coconut water straight from the coconut).
Hiking to the Waterfalls
Pretty Close 876 marks the start of a hiking trail to FOUR hidden waterfalls in Gordon Town. I don’t suppose they’ll remain hidden for much longer so visit quickly, or go early in the mornings or on a weekday. Ramo has named the falls himself.
- Orchid Falls, the most accessible– gentle 10-minute hiking trail. You can find this by taking the left where the trail forks in two and two rivers can be seen. This trail is marked by blue spray paint every few paces to confirm that you’re on the correct track. The pool at its base only gets to waist deep.
- Governor Falls, gentle trail but less used so it was more overgrown. Where the trail forks in two and two rivers can be seen, go right instead to find this one. The water gets to shoulder or neck deep here.
- Fern Fever Falls. You’ll have to get wet finding this one. The trail isn’t really difficult but I visited on a day where it was very overgrown and the trail was obliterated by fallen branches and twigs. The spider webs looked as if they’d never been disturbed and given how clean and peaceful everything was, you’d think no other human had ever ventured here before.
- Lion Falls. This is the largest of the four and the only waterfall I hadn’t visited. Ramo named this one Lion Falls because you have to be brave and strong like a lion to conquer it. While I think of myself as a strong individual, even Achilles had a weakness, right? To get to Lion Falls one has to climb above Orchid Falls on a narrow precarious slope while holding on to a rope with knots for support. That in and of itself was frightening but after conquering that slope, I encountered another knotted rope. This time, I’d be climbing up a vertical 90° rockface to see the waterfall above. That requires remarkable arm strength and I suppose a thin supple build. I’m blessed with neither so I had to pass on visiting Lion Falls. My boyfriend climbed halfway up the rope and got a good look at the waterfall. He says it’s very beautiful and huge, but for now I’ll just take his word. Ramo has plans on improving the accessibility to this waterfall, so I’ll revisit whenever that project is complete!
I hope you enjoyed my recap of the new chill spot, river and waterfalls near Kingston. Pretty Close 876 is a gem located only 15 minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visit the waterfalls and stay for the food. Similar to Kingston Reggae Garden, this is another space to watch. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE for notifications about new places to visit. Tell a friend and pin this post to your Pinterest boards.
‘Til next time.