Banana raft on the Rio Grande © Port Antonio Tourism
The Rio Grande has been used since 1911 as a means of transporting goods by bamboo rafts, particularly by banana farmers in the Rio Grande Valley who floated bunches of bananas on rafts to the end of the river at St Margaret's Bay. Today, bamboo rafting trips are a major tourist attraction, offering an experience that showcases the natural beauty that the Portland area has to offer. Trips last between two and three hours, and the 30-foot (9m) rafts can carry two passengers and are steered by skilled raftsmen who also act as guides. Rafts can be boarded at Berrydale or Grant's Level and end at the mouth of the Rio Grande at St Margaret's Bay. The rafts offer umbrellas so that you can shelter from the sun or any rain on the river. This is a great activity for bird watchers as there are many bird species on the water. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and encourage questions and conversation - they may even give you a lesson in managing the raft should you so desire. Bring your swim wear because there are lovely swimming opportunities. A very popular addition to this rafting experience is a meal cooked on the riverbank over open fires at Belinda's Restaurant.