Just when I thought there was nothing else to explore in Papine besides Penfield River, I saw this unique hidden gem pop up on my Instagram feed called Pretty Close!
So, of course, it drew my attention as their popular hashtag states they are Not Far but Pretty Close.
This hidden gem tucked away in Papine has gained a lot of traction over the past few months this year by many locals and popular travel enthusiasts on the island of Jamaica.
A good friend of mine was visiting from the UK and needed some adventure in her bones and to be honest, so did I! I was yearning for some nature therapy similar to how some people find bliss in retail therapy. It had been a while since I was able to explore a different location and this one wasn't far out of town, so I used the opportunity to seek out this gem. It was actually Pretty Close as the name suggests.
Let's get into the adventure!
While heading to Pretty Close one lovely Saturday afternoon it started to rain. Instantaneously, I had second thoughts about the whole trip. At this point, I was contemplating if going to the river while it was raining was a good idea. But my fellow adventure seekers didn't seem to budge despite the weather.
On our way to the location, I called our contact "Ramo" to ensure we didn't go off route and in the same breadth enquired if journeying to Pretty Close was a good idea despite the weather.
Ramo said they had a light drizzle at the time so we continued along the way.
Pro Tip: Consider the weather before planning a trip to the river and call ahead if you have a contact to make sure it is safe.
If you are familiar with the community of Papine, finding Pretty Close won't be too much of a challenge for you or your group. Pretty Close is located on Enfield road in Gordon Town,St. Andrew.
Google maps helped quite a bit for most of the journey. Simply type in Pretty Close and it will display the route for you.
But I generally have more faith in God, a tour guide, or a contact number lol, especially in an off-road situation.
When you visit the countryside and you ask a local for directions majority will say "Yeh man, Jus down di road!" Well, this time around Pretty Close was actually pretty close!
Overall, the drive was about 20-25 minutes from Papine but I believe it took us longer because of the rain, and the van in front of us that was going below the speed limit.
Enough of that though!
On arriving we approached a narrow path and soon saw a few vehicles. There were a few private properties in the area so we were instructed on where to park and then guided to the location.
Pretty Close emerged in late 2019 and is owned by Omar aka Ramo. He explained that he got a vision for the area and decided to bring it to fruition. The land was owned by generations before him and he took it upon himself to make it into something special. "Use what you have and create something" he stated in his own words.
On the property, there is a bathroom, changing room, and a shop for drinks such as beer or kiddies juice. The kitchen is located close to the riverside and is covered with thatch. There you will find Ramo cooking up a storm.
The location is rustic and has an eco-friendly vibe. They have a few benches to sit on with thatch sheds and umbrellas you can chill under.
They have friendly dogs that are always present by the river and one in particular loves to swim so if you enjoy the company of such animals then that will add to your experience.
He has two sons Jessus and Jahiem. Jessus the older of the two was our tour guide to the waterfalls.
PRETTY CLOSE WATERFALLS
Orchid Falls- This is a 10-minute hike. It was given this name as a lot of Orchids grow around the falls.
Lion Falls- Located behind Orchid Falls. It was given this name as you have to have the heart of a lion or lioness to climb this waterfall.
Governor Falls- About an eight-minute trek which you would walk through the river to reach
Fern Fever Falls- Given this name as you will see ferns on heading to the falls and some growing around its location.
All the waterfalls were named by Ramo.
ENJOYING A MEAL BY THE RIVER
The meal options are ital and come at a cost of $1500. Your meal is served in a calabash and bamboo forks are given with the meal.
On the menu:
callaloo, ackee & saltfish, okra stew, fried fish, fried dumplings, pressed green plantain (tostones), ripe plantain, breadfruit, festival, and sweet potato. Rice & peas generally is cooked on Sundays. Typing the food options made my mouth water lol! It was delicious!
The food is cooked on a woodfire and natural spring water is used to prepare meals. Meals can also be customized.
WHO IS PRETTY CLOSE FOR?
The location is great for a family setting and caters to small intimate groups such as a group of friends. I saw a few couples there as well so it's a chill spot for a serene and quiet outdoor date. The location also caters to private events.
My experience was a breath of fresh air and nothing short of an adventure. The mixture of riverside dining and hiking to the waterfalls made the experience a memorable one.
Pretty Close is open from 9 AM to 7 PM throughout the week and on
Thursdays, from 12 in the afternoon to 7 PM. In order to visit Pretty Close, you would have to send them a direct message on Instagram @PrettyClose876 to make a reservation in regards to the day and time you would like to go there.
12 years & Up -$200JMD
Under 12 years- FREE
So Pretty Close was overall an interesting and unforgettable adventure. It was a bit challenging for me to get to one of the falls as it required some level of upper body strength and leg work.
We had to climb a rope that had knots throughout its length in an effort to reach Orchid Falls. After enjoying Orchid Falls and taking pictures, my group and I went above Orchid Falls in an attempt to climb the big bad Lion Falls.
Jessus our guide went up first, then my best friend climbed up like some rock climbing athlete! Next up was me but there was no hope there as I was tired physically and mentally, plus I was laughing at myself when trying to climb up HAHA!
Another friend of the group decided to go up but had a challenge maneuvering the mini falls (yet to be named) below Lion Falls.
In short, as we were laughing and chatting along with figuring out how to get up with Jessus and my bestie's guide we experienced a mini landslide. It was a little scary and pretty close to being hit by a few small rocks!
At this point, we called it quits and went back to play some UNO. We didn't get to see Governor Falls and Fern Fever Falls as nightfall was approaching. So I would definitely return to seek out those two Waterfalls.
On my return, I would bring these with me to my next trip
Make sure you have water shoes or boots for climbing. There are sections of the trail that requires you to climb and depending on the weather the rocks might be slippery.
Personally, if I had gloves, for example, gym type or something to grip I would pack that as well.
A first aid kit! I and others got a few scrapes on the climb up, but nothing extreme.