Go Natural Jamaica: A Healthy Living Oasis in Portland
Lately, I’ve been noticing that I have an increased need for rejuvenation. A constant desire to find someway to rest and reset after I face the strenuous weight of the daily trials that seem to come crashing down on the body and mind. It’s a feeling that confides in me daily; prodding, poking and urging me to stop, relax and renew. And that is exactly what Go Natural Jamaica seemed to offer. A chance to escape the strains of life and recuperate in one of my most favourite parishes.
If you’ve read my Boston Beach blog post then you’re already somewhat aware of my love for the parish of Portland. The unmarred, picturesque beauty that lies along Jamaica’s northeast coast. It is beauty personified and a captivating wonder that keeps visitors returning for more of what this gem has to offer. The drive to the parish of Portland alone is captivating, unrivaled and has a certain lure that fuels your excitement even before you reach your final destination.
So when the opportunity presented itself for me to escape the hustle and bustle of the smog-stained Kingston metropolitan to the epicenter of nature and tranquility that is Portland this past summer; I found myself opening an invitation I couldn’t refuse. I had to seize the day as it came. And it turned out to be just what the doctor needed.
Relax and Reconnect with yourself at Go Natural Jamaica
Nestled in the serene oasis of Longbay, Portland, the Go Natural Jamaica is a Yoga and Wellness retreat located right here in Jamaica. It lies along the Portland coast; encapsulated by the lush evergreen of the cool hills and mountains which appears to melt seamlessly into the clear blue crystals of the Caribbean sea. Even on entry one can feel the release of the calming and soothing energy that promises to relax the mind as you detox the body.
Go Natural Jamaica offers unique yoga and detoxing experiences for every comfort level. From a novice like myself, to an expert yogi, all are welcome to partake in the pacifying experience being offered. A chance to unplug from the over-wired and under-connected world we live in and practice a more mindful approach.
Day visits are set at a price of $50 Usd/ $5500 Jmd and Extended/ Overnight stays begin at $95 Usd/ $9500 Jmd and goes up depending on length of stay and type of experience desired. The price covers the rooms (if you choose to stay overnight), yoga and meditation sessions, meals and discussions/lessons/workshops on topics such as making your own skincare and body products and healthy eating.
How to get there
Travelling from my home parish of Kingston, it takes approximately 2.5 hours to arrive at the Go Natural Jamaica retreat center. The fastest route mapped is to travel northeasterly via Old Stony Hill Road and the junction until you arrive in Port Antonio (capital of Portland). From there, the journey to Long Bay is approximately 40 minutes long.
The entrance to the retreat center is quite unassuming. It is a green building on the left hand side of the road just at the beginning of Long Bay. The actually oasis is a sloped incline behind said green building where a gated entrance is present.
If you happen to use google maps and it says you’ve arrived. Despite appearances, you have truly arrived. Do not pass go. Stop where you are and look to your left until you see the entrance. Don’t end up like me who drove to Boston Beach and then turned back, getting lost until I finally found the place. It wastes significant amount of time. Especially if you are only visiting for a day.
This was my first true interaction with a yoga and meditation retreat so nervous doesn’t quite capture how I felt about embarking on this journey. I was anxious as I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Not only had I never been on a retreat of this kind before, I also hadn’t tried yoga before. But I have always been attracted to the thought of trying yoga. Maybe it’s because my mind is constantly moving and the thought of stillness had a certain lure to me. The seemingly unattainable ability to quiet the mind and embrace the moment. The thought truly seduced me. So while I was anxious, I was yet still excited for this new adventure.
Fortunately, my worries were short-lived. At first arrival, I was greeted by warm and welcoming staff who made me feel quite relaxed and comfortable. Despite my being late and many of the guests being overnight guests whereas I was only there for a day, I was made to feel like a welcome addition to the group.
I made it just in time for lunch time. Missing the morning yoga session, breakfast and one of the educational sessions/workshops which was about how to make your own self-care products and toiletries (eg lotions, facemasks, etc). I heard these sessions were rather amazing and were excellent additions to the experience. I’m sad I missed it but you should definitely attend these sessions if the opportunity presents itself.
Munchies and Yummies
Go Natural Jamaica is a vegan and vegetarian based wellness retreat and as such all meal options were devoid of meat. Considering I’m as carnivorous as it can get, I was ….. let’s just say skeptical. I wondered if I would starve and die a thousand deaths before I returned home.
As mentioned before, meals are included as a part of the experience and are served communal style in the dining area. This is where I met my fellow retreat-goers and delved into some deep and meaningful conversation. The meals are produced using locally-grown (Jamaican) crops and produce.
Now, let me just say the meals were absolutely delicious. Flavourful, creative, colourful and filling. Scrumptious and decadently prepared meals lit up my taste buds with each bite. The lunch, the snacks, the dinner and desserts were all plant based meals and all oh so good. And so different from what I’m used to. Definitely no junk or processed food allowed. It’s clean and healthy eating only. So buckle up your tastebuds.
Awe-inspiring views and a celebration of culture
After lunch, the guests were given some moments to themselves. A few guests got massages; an option available to overnight guests included in their fee and day guests at an additional cost. I on the other hand embarked on a journey along the coastline to the cliff-side and soaked up the breathtaking ocean views and scenery. It was just amazing. The lull of the waves crashing against the rocks, the smell of the salt water tickling your nose and the tranquility of nature’s purest gifts to man.
The cliff-side stroll was then followed by lying and relaxing under the cabana where I fell into a wistful nap. Following my restful slumber, we had a nutrition talk by one of the owners of Go Natural Jamaica while lounging around in the hammocks. We discussed different diets, the benefits of each diet and the best ways to maintain a healthy diet.
The penultimate part of the day, saw us doing some mindfulness yoga at sunset. Soaking up the breathtaking seaside views; reveling in the brilliant colours of the dusk lights; all while partaking in some deep breathing, stretching and relaxation exercises; guided by our instructor Clo.
The cherry on top to truly end a lovely day was sitting at the bonfire celebration entertained by live music by local entertainers. We were even given instruments like maracas and Conga drums to play along and participate in the musical celebration. An absolutely fantastic way to end the day.
Overall, I think this was one of the best experiences I had in 2018. It was one that I truly appreciated. Not only did I step outside my comfort zone and did something new and different for myself; I also left feeling amazing. I felt refreshed and renewed. It was like a new feeling and liveliness overcame me. I felt re-energized and accomplished at the same time. It was like new batteries being placed in your favourite toy and you saw it roar back to life again. I left the Go Natural Jamaica retreat center feeling like I had let all my worries wash away with the day.