The Riva Close to Alligator Pond
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Hidden Treasure: Discovering "The Riva" Close to Alligator Pond
I must thank my lucky stars that I meet the coolest people or I would never discover half the magic I find in Jamaica. This place has no name but I was told that if you ask anyone in St Elizabeth what the name is they simply refer to it as “The Riva”. It is located in the middle of nowhere on the border of St Elizabeth and Manchester – somewhere near Alligator Pond.
I met a person at a karaoke night in Black River who seemed pretty cool so we kept the link throughout most of my trip during my three week trip in Jamaica. I figured, why not make some connections! It’s always the way I’m able to make new discoveries. The guy lives in Junction, which is a good hour’s drive east from Black River. I already had plans to head out on my own and look for Little Ochi and Alligator Pond during my last week so when I mentioned that to him he said he could show me a place that’s near there but so much better. So in true solo-traveler fashion I derailed my plans in exchange for “off the beaten path”.
I started out from Black River and drove towards Treasure Beach, then up into the winding mountain roads to Southfield. I’ve been there once before to visit Lovers Leap a couple of years ago. The guy told me to drive straight through Southfield and into a town called Junction, where he would meet me at the Texaco gas station and show me the rest of the way to “destination unknown.” All he told me is that the place is where a river runs beside the sea but the two never meet.
The first hour of my drive was all uphill but once I hit Junction and picked him up the rest of the drive was down, down down. It was like I drove over the top of Jamaica and back down another side, back to the seaside. The long, deserted road into this place was dreadful More potholes than I’d seen in my whole trip but I had my fingers crossed that it would all be worth it.
When we drove in, parked and got out of the car my surroundings were breathtaking. There really IS a freshwater river that runs right beside the roaring South Coast sea! This is the best of both worlds – the calm serenity of the cool river right beside the rough surf waves in the salty South sea.
And we were literally in the middle of nowhere. Not a town or house to be seen in either direction, up the beach nor down the beach. I wasn’t wearing my swimsuit and there’s no washroom or place to change down here so the guy kindly held up a towel to my car windows while I put on my swimsuit in the back seat. We were ready to hit the water! It was about 3:00pm and a much later start to this excursion than I had intended. We decided to make the best of it for the remaining hours before dark.
There were very few people down here and it was blissful. Music played from somewhere with nothing else but peace, quiet, and fresh water while basking in the sunlight. It was the perfect spot to rejuvenate my 3-week tan before heading back to the icy weather in Canada.
I don’t like driving on nighttime mountain roads and so thought it best to head back to Black River before dark. But I hadn’t had nearly enough of this amazing place yet so I asked the guy what his plans were for the next day. As luck would have it he was on vacation from his job that week so we made definite plans for me to come back in the morning and spend the entire day down here. I kind of needed him again because I don’t think I would have found the place a second time on my own. In fact I’m pretty sure that even if I decided to go back right now for a third time I wouldn’t remember all the little turns to get here.
The next day I arrived back in Junction around 11:00am so we had a FULL day to enjoy this peaceful spot. Not only did we stay in the water until we were good and shriveled up, but we spent hours walking up the long deserted beach. All we encountered the entire time were two or three people, a couple of dogs and some parked fishing boats. We also happened upon a deserted little thatch hut behind some trees and wondered what it could have been before it was abandoned. I wanted to go inside it but I had bare feet and there was broken glass in the sand around the hut.
The black sand that covers this huge stretch of beach is so amazing to walk on! It’s super spongy, almost like it’s been aerated and your feet sink deep into it while you walk. It feels like memory foam sand and it’s full of sparkles in the sunlight. The photos don’t do the sparkles any justice.
This was seriously one of the most magical spots I’ve encountered in Jamaica. I never did go and look for the real Alligator Pond but I heard it’s somewhere near here. Maybe I’ll get there one day!