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Paddle Board & Kayak Safari from Rio Bueno to Silver Sands Jamaica

My iPhone chimed at 5:00 am and jolted me out of a sound sleep. Did I still want to take advantage of the forecast for a calm, sunny morning? Such conditions are perfect for a paddleboard and kayak safari.

Yes!
This adventure from the historic village of Rio Bueno in the East back to Silver Sands was high on my bucket list.

We had made plans. Last night, DJ, chef from Endless Summer Villa, had loaded his van with kayaks and paddleboards. I had made sandwiches and put them in the fridge. I had primed the coffee machine. It only needed a flick of the switch to start it brewing.

map showing route from silver sands to rio bueno
Google Earth view, showing our route by road and by sea.

By 5:30 am, Bryan had arrived in his van and loaded up the rest of our equipment. Lea, Randy and I had dressed and were ready.

The sun was already peeping over the hills as we drove out of Silver Sands with DJ following in convoy. It was a cool drive up to Duncans and then we headed East to join the highway to Rio Bueno.

bryan and prem in van leaving silver sands
Bryan (right) and I, in his van as we headed out of Silver Sands.

There was no traffic on the highway at that time of the morning. We took an easy 15 minutes to journey about 9 kilometres (6 miles) to the Fisherman's Beach on the Rio Bueno Harbour. We parked under some sprawling trees next to fishpots, nets and fishing boats.  We, except Bryan, rushed to the water's edge to explore the area.

Many historians believe that Christopher Columbus first landed in Jamaica at Rio Bueno. He was searching for fresh water when he spotted the river emptying into one of the deepest harbours in Jamaica.

getting the equipment ready at the fisherman's beach in rio bueno
Getting the kayaks and paddleboards ready. (Left to right: DJ, Prem, and Bryan)

We offloaded the equipment as quickly as we could.  We did not want to miss being on the water as the sun came up over the Caribbean Sea. Bryan pumped up his paddleboard and we loaded up our supplies and headed to the beach.

Rio Bueno Fisherman's Beach at Sunrise
The rising sun casts a warm glow on the Rio Bueno harbour.

boats and fish pots at the fisherman's beach in rio bueno
Fishing boats and fish pots.

sunrise at the beach - boats and fish pots
The beach was deserted except for an older man (above right), who was cleaning fish, and a woman bathing in the sea (above left).

setting out from the beach at Rio Bueno
Setting out from the Fisherman's Beach at Rio Bueno.

We paddled out from the beach, as a couple of fishermen sailed in with their catch. They stared at us, obviously wondering what on Earth we were up to.

After a couple of minutes, we got a clear view of the Baptist Church on the hill. This cut-stone structure was built in 1901.  Baptist missionaries, who broke away from the Church of England, built the original church in 1829. The local white planters opposed their teachings and burnt it down.

Rio Bueno Baptist Church and fishermen in boat
The Baptist Church, on the hill, with distinctive cut-stone walls and red roof, towers over the Fisherman's Beach, from where we set off.
 
joe james gallery, restaurant and hotel
Joe James' Gallery, Hotel and Restaurant on the sea front, basking in the morning sunshine.
 
lea looking back as she kayaks out to sea
Lea looks back from her kayak as the sun rises over the Rio Bueno Harbour.
 
lea and randy paddle their kayak past saint mark's anglican church
Lea and Randy paddle their two-seater kayak past the Saint Mark's Anglican Church, built in 1833.
 
bryan getting ready sitting on paddle board
Bryan, sitting on his paddleboard to adjust his camera.
 
randy sitting in kayak with paddle boarders in background
Randy takes a rest in the two-seater kayak, while Bryan catches up on his paddleboard.
 

Rio Bueno is in the parish of Trelawny, at the border with the parish of St. Ann. It's a small quiet town, steeped in history, as shown by its eighteenth century ruins.

The following photographs show the beauty of our paddleboard and kayak coastal journey. I hope they convey our enjoyment of the calm, peaceful morning.

 
rocky coastline
Rocky coast with a couple of fishpots.
 
melia bravo resort in the distance
The Melia Braco Village, all-inclusive resort.
 
lea looking at the resort
Approaching the Melia Braco Village.
 
melia bravo resort
Closer to the Melia Braco Village.
 
very clear calm sea
Clean, clear sea revealing the reef below.
 
coral reef from the kayak
Mask not needed to see the coral reef and marine life.
 
bryan on paddle board 2 kayaks
Bryan, standing on his inflatable paddleboard (above); Randy and Lea in the double-seater kayak, and DJ in the other kayak (above right).
 

After a couple hours of paddling, I saw a fishing boat in the distance. Two men were standing in the boat, drawing up a net, while a third man was in the water with mask and snorkel. I paddled towards them, curious about their catch.

When I got closer, I was surprised that one of the fishermen was the Rasta Ezekiel. We exchanged joyful greetings and stories of our adventures that morning. Ezekiel told us that he and his friends had been out fishing since 2:00 am. 

Bryan had carried a speargun, strapped to his paddleboard, and decided to do a bit of hunting. The rest of us, paddled on towards Silver Sands.

 
fishing boat with net
Fishing boat in the distance.
 
rasta ezekiel and another fisherman in boat
The two men pulled up the net, which you can see between them, in the boat (above).
 
closeup of the fishermen
A third fisherman is in the water with mask and snorkel (above, bottom left).
 
bryan underwater
Bryan, spearfishing.
 
We stayed close to the shore most of the time. We did not want to run aground so we paddled away from very shallow coral reefs when necessary. We gazed at the coastline, with some parts rocky, some low cliffs, and stretches of deserted beaches.
 
dj paddling into shallow small lagoon
DJ paddled into a small shallow lagoon, edged by mangrove roots.
 
lea and randy in kayak beside a log
Lea and Randy navigating their way past a huge log washed up near the shore.
 
kayaks and silver sands in the distance
Paddling around the point at the Harmony Cove Beach to see Silver Sands in the distance nearly three hours after we began our safari.

The Harmony Cove Beach looked gorgeous with the sea sparkling in the morning sun. We decided to wait for Bryan here. His spearfishing diversion resulted in our separation by quite a distance. We were hungry but could not resist taking a swim in the sea before we sat down to eat our sandwiches in the shade of a seagrape tree.

 
harmony cove beach harmony cove beach - west end
The gorgeous Harmony Cove Beach.
 
prem falling into the sea at harmony cove beach
After nearly 3 hours without getting wet, Prem made a splash, falling backwards as he approached the Harmony Cove Beach.
 
Lea lands at Harmony Cove Beach
Lea, on the Harmony Cove Beach
 
lea, dj, and prem sitting on a log eating sandwiches
Sitting on a log under the shade of a sprawling seagrape tree, we had our breakfast of sandwiches.
 
randy, sitting in a tree on the beach
Randy explored the area and found a comfortable seat perched up in a seagrape tree.
 
turtle tracks on the harmony cove beach
There were fresh turtle tracks on the Harmony Cove Beach. No doubt a turtle had come up to lay her eggs the night before.

We spent about an hour on the Harmony Cove Beach, then we continued our safari to Silver Sands. This last leg of the trip took about half an hour. We paddled past the small beach with the ruins of the Viera house, meeting Shine, the Conch Man on the way.

shine on his windsurfer converted to a conch fishing vessel
Shine on his windsurfer, converted into a conch-fishing vessel.
 
We paddled past the Silver Sands Beach, close to the gazebo on the jetty, and landed on the far Western side of the property in front of Endless Summer Villa. We were all beaming, so happy to have experienced this amazing paddleboard and kayak safari.
 
 
J. Doxzen (USA) and friends did this trip with Bryan and gave us this feedback:
"We really enjoyed our kayak trip with Brian.
He was very courteous and helpful.
The kayaking experience was the highlight of our trip.
We would definitely recommend this trip to others!"
 
Would you like to do this? Contact our guide: Contact Bryan Smythe.
 
 

 

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