The Chukka Story

The inspiration for CHUKKA sprang from its founder’s passion for polo.

In the early 1980’s, Danny Melville hosted polo matches on Saturdays at his polo field in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. On Sundays, to help the horses relax, the polo players took the horses swimming in the clear saltwater of Mammee Bay. International polo players loved the tradition, as did Danny’s children. When Danny opened a polo and equestrian center for locals in 1983, he decided to complement it with an opportunity for tourists to encounter horses. The combination of the scenic ride along a spectacular coast and a thrilling swim on horseback proved to be a launching pad for the company. The Horseback Ride ‘N’ Swim was born—the first adventure tour of its kind in Jamaica, and thirty years later, still our signature tour.

Danny named the company CHUKKA, which describes a period of play in a polo match. CHUKKA captures the spirit of adventure and excitement inherent in the game of polo and the childlike wonder inspired by a swimming horse.

A home-grown company

Guided by a spirit of exploration and adventure, Chukka (also known as Chukka Caribbean Adventures) is driven to define, design, develop and deliver tour experiences of the highest quality. Chukka is rooted in an entrepreneurial spirit, supported by strong family values, employee and partner loyalty, and the best-trained staff in the Caribbean. Today, Chukka operates over 60 tours in Jamaica, Belize, Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic and Barbados.

A steep (and deep) learning curve

John and Marc still laugh when they recall CHUKKA’s first jeep tour, a carefully planned, exciting off-road ride into the jungle, over rivers, and into the wildlife. As the jeep ventured across one river, John and Marc realized—just a moment too late—that the recent rains had left the water level a bit too high. The jeep stalled mid-river, and with water reaching the doors, John and Marc were forced to climb out the jeep windows to push the jeep and its passengers to the far shore. When the guests returned to their cruise ship, they reported to their excursion desk that their tour guides had provided a truly exhilarating 4×4 tour—complete with a perfectly orchestrated jeep breakdown mid-river!

Conquering fears

At a trade show, Marc discovered canopy zipline tours, which were previously unknown in Jamaica. Marc, Alexander and John ventured to Costa Rica to learn more about this new phenomenon. Banking on the extensive adventure tourism experience, the three bravely signed up for an extreme canopy tour involving numerous zip lines at dizzying heights. The first zip line left a platform at a height of 14 feet and, hundreds of yards later, arrived at a platform 100 feet high in a tree.

Marc soared along the line, arriving exhilarated and ready for more. But after John parted from the first platform and flew over a vast expanse of rainforest suspended from a 1-inch cable by nothing but a harness, he wrapped his arms around the tree on the second platform, began to hyperventilate, and refused to budge. Alexander was left dangling in mid-air, unable to land on the second platform until John released the tree.

By the end of the canopy tour, though, all three agreed that Jamaica needed a zipline tour, and CHUKKA would provide it. John imposed the caveat, though, that each canopy tour would start with a zip of modest length and height, in an effort to quell the fears of any anxious guests.

Eating from the same pot

CHUKKA has always been close to the communities in which it operates. John grew up playing at an oceanfront property at Sandy Bay, west of Montego Bay. Up the hill from Sandy Bay, in the seven-year riverside floodplain, lies Pumpkin Bottom, a rural community where John made many friends as a child, riding horses in the hills, swimming in the saltwater, and fishing with makeshift poles.

At one time, the main road traveled a circuitous oceanfront route, and farmers routinely cut across the Sandy Bay property. John and his childhood friends imposed small “taxes” on the shortcut, collecting yams and cassava from the kind farmers passing through. John exchanged some of the yams for fish and other fixings, and the children repurposed a huge kerosene can as a pot for a stew. Everyone contributed what they had, and everyone ate out of the same pot.

That same sense of community permeates CHUKKA today. When the river breached its banks in 2012, as it does every seven years, Pumpkin Bottom was destroyed and its community suffered terrible losses. CHUKKA donated food and shelter and helped the community rebuild its homes.

The Chukka Foundation, the philanthropic arm of CHUKKA, strives to be responsible to communities in which we live and work, recognizing that as a large organization, we have a great capacity to make a difference. The Chukka Foundation believes strongly in developing relationships and partnering closely with the rural and local schools offering support where possible. Providing assistance with back to school supplies and equipment for classrooms has been an annual commitment. Through the Carvell McDonald Memorial Scholarship established in 2017, financial assistance has been awarded to students to help with their academic studies. Initiatives in partnership with the St. James Police Division in St. James, establishing a School Breakfast Feeding Program for the children of the challenging inner city community. CHUKKA prioritizes the health care sector and purchasing medical equipment

CHUKKA’s commitment to its community is reflected in its offerings to our guests as well. Because CHUKKA tours are designed to give its guests a taste of the real Caribbean, 30% of tour guides are hired from the immediately surrounding areas. Also, ATV, dune buggy, and 4×4 tours explore not only the lush rainforest and stunning trails but also the beloved communities in the area.

Mission statement

Through a passionate, dedicated and motivated team of professionals, CHUKKA is committed to providing safe fun-packed experiences, which highlight the usually unseen natural beauty and diversity of our history, culture, landscape and people.

We endeavor to bring the highest level of genuine care and satisfaction to ALL of our customers. suppliers and fellow TEAM Members.

Organization vision

To be the leader in the soft adventure tour industry through quality customer service, continuous improvement and profitable expansion with a variety of fun-packed experiences, strong management base and passionate and committed multi-skilled teams.

Whilst building and maintaining a distinct competitive advantage, our company will become the benchmark for the industry with a recognizable brand synonymous with excellence.

CHUKKA will consistently conduct its affairs in a manner, which will make team players always proud of our corporate image and community relations.


CHUKKA is dedicated to the creation and enhancement of quality adventure tours/attractions and in so doing provide a positive work environment for our staff. Integral to this is our commitment to the protection, growth and development of the Cruise Ship Industry and Land-based Tourism.

To achieve our goals we will be guided as follows:

  • We will strive to provide tours designed to fulfill the needs of our guests
  • We will at all time work together as a dynamic, professional and integrated team of professionals with complete focus on providing the highest level of customer service to our guests’ complete satisfaction.
  •  We will seek to design unique tours, which will optimize the enjoyment of the tours
Yearly guests

The Chukka spirit

CHUKKA is about playtime!

It’s about fun, laughter and a passion for life. Every single member of the CHUKKA team in Jamaica, Turks & Caicos, and Belize contributes to helping their guests play; they get to wow them at every turn with all that the Caribbean has to offer. From the spine tingling rush of a zipline to a journey back in time at a great house, a ride through mystical caves to a river tube ride down famous rivers; CHUKKA is about playing—being a child again, seeing things with new eyes and leaving with smiles.

Our CHUKKA logo

The CHUKKA logo’s colors capture the multifaceted spirit of the CHUKKA experience: green for lush vegetation and foliage; yellow for the brilliant sun; turquoise for the Caribbean Sea and sky; and red for the heart of the CHUKKA team

Feature - Business Live Extra