Chukka is the Caribbean’s largest eco-adventure tour company. Its founder Danny Melville would host polo matches on weekends, then take the horses for a refreshing swim afterwards. In 1983 Melville opened a local equestrian centre and complemented it with an opportunity for tourists to ride and swim with horses along a scenic coastal trail. Chukka’s signature Horseback Ride ‘N’ Swim at Llandovery was the first adventure tour of its kind in Jamaica and the rest is history. Chukka now operates over 60 tours with locations in Jamaica, Belize, Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic and Barbados.
Before we get into the article, please subscribe for new adventures.
Chukka Cove Locations in Jamaica
In Jamaica, Chukka’s locations include the Ocean Outpost at Sandy Bay, the Eco-Adventure Outpost in Good Hope Trelawny and the Island Village Outpost in Ocho Rios. Chukka operates at four adventure parks and sites in and around Ocho Rios. These include:
- The Chukka Cove & Cliffs at Llandovery where one can cliff-jump, snorkel, drive ATVs and experience Chukka’s signature Horseback Ride ‘N’ Swim through an old colonial estate and along a picturesque cove.
- Dunn’s River Falls where one can zipline, climb the waterfall and enjoy a catamaran cruise.
- The Chukka White River Valley where one can swim, zipline through the jungle and tube down the White River under the beautiful canopy of bamboo shoots. This tour also includes a visit to Island Gully Falls where one can swing and perform daring jumps into the waterfall.
- Chukka’s Island Village Outpost which offers an authentic Jamaican lunch, Jamaican short film viewing and an Appleton rum tasting experience similar to that offered at the Appleton Estate in St. Elizabeth.
I explored three of these sites on my recent Runaway Bay vacation where I stayed at the Escape Villa at Vista. You can either drive to these sites, or park at the Island Village Outpost in Ocho Rios then get shuttled to your excursion. For tourists, many hotels on Jamaica’s north coast offer shuttles to the Island Village Outpost. Enquire at your hotel front desk or during booking. The other Jamaican Chukka adventure parks offer similar activities to those listed above, as well as: reggae rafting at Lethe, driving dune buggies at Sandy Bay, bamboo rafting down the iconic Martha Brae River and kayaking, waterslides and nature walks through an old sugar plantation at Good Hope.
Chukka Cove & Cliffs at Llandovery
It rained on the morning of my trip, but subsided before the tour. However, tours only stop for thunderstorms. Many riders actually welcome the rain because “the wetter [muddier], the better.” My Island Double Motorized package began with horseback riding. We got a briefing then I was helped onto a gentle horse named Spice. Our guides were great. Their friendly banter put everyone at ease, including myself and the other first-time riders. They were kind to the horses while putting our safety first. We rode for about 30 minutes through an old sugar plantation and on the beach. Next, we had a short break for refreshments, then it was time for the swim portion of Chukka’s signature tour. My second horse was a large brown horse called Star Boy. He did well until getting a little startled, at which point his gallops made me lose my balance and fall into the water. However, it didn’t spoil the fun. My guide helped me back onto the horse so I could complete my Chukka Horseback Ride ‘N’ Swim. Horses are such majestic creatures. I enjoyed experiencing them up close immensely.
A jitney returned us to where our tour began, then it was time for the ATVs. One must present a valid driver’s licence in order to do this tour. This was my first time driving an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). My guide Dwayne gave us a briefing which included how to operate the ATV. It was quite different from a car or go-kart, as the ATV’s accelerator and brake are both operated by hand. We were led through a circuit similar to the horseback riding trail. I got the hang of it within a few minutes and it was also loads of fun. I recommend wearing something which you don’t mind getting dirty, and packing clean change of clothes.
Next up was a shuttle ride to a 15-foot cliff where the braver ones among us jumped. Instead, I climbed down the stairs into the delightful cove and enjoyed the warm Caribbean Sea. Even if you don’t plan on jumping, still take the shuttle ride to the Chukka Cliffs to check out the spectacular view.
Lunch & Rum Tasting at Island Village Outpost
My 5-hour excursion at Llandovery worked up a ravenous appetite which made me happy that lunch was included. The Island Village Outpost serves a delicious jerk chicken lunch with rice and peas and salad, along with a complimentary bottle of water. Chukka serves fried fish or steamed vegetables as a vegetarian alternative.
My final activity of the day was the rum tasting experience, where we got samples of Appleton’s signature, reserve and rare blends to swirl, sniff and enjoy. The rare blend is aged for a minimum of twelve years and paired perfectly with Pure Chocolate Jamaica’s 60% dark artisan chocolate. This tour is perfect for anyone who may not have the time to check out one of Jamaica’s three rum tours. Toni-Ann did a great job of leading the tasting session.
Chukka White River Valley
For this day’s excursion, my partner and I parked at the Island Village Outpost then took the White River Valley shuttle. The first stop at Island Gully Falls was short. Here, one can jump into the cascade from a ledge and/or use a rope swing. Next stop was the White River for tubing. This is a different section of the river from Calypso’s rafting and tubing which I visited a few weeks ago. My experience of tubing with Chukka was just as exciting. The guides led us in song all the way down the river, from “Who Let the Dogs Out” to Bob Marley’s “Sun Is Shining.”
Ziplining above the White River Valley was exhilarating. Ziplining is a must-do adventurous activity while in Jamaica. We crossed the rope bridge pictured below then walked deep into the rainforest to start this adventure. Our guides gave us a briefing on how to maintain our safety while zipping through the jungle, then we were off! Again, we worked up a massive appetite which was satisfied with a complimentary lunch at Margaritaville Ocho Rios.
Chukka Cove offers a whole day of fun for the entire family. Reserve your experience with Chukka online or through your hotel. For Jamaicans, look out for Chukka Cove local prices and deals with discount websites such as Brawta Living. Have you been to Chukka before? Share your Chukka experiences in the comments, or which activity you’d be most excited to try. Please share, pin and bookmark this list for later. Also, remember to subscribe for new posts. New posts publish every Friday.
‘Til next time.
** Disclosure: I received a complimentary pass to Chukka, but all opinions are my own.