17 in ’17. Make some bucket list goals which are pocket-friendly and doable. It is useless to have a long list of places entirely out of current reach. I have Marrakech and Madrid goals too, but for now, here are 17 places in Jamaica to which I’ve never been and will try to visit for 2017. Some of them I’m ashamed to have never visited 🙈🙈🙈. I mean, I’ve lived here all my life. Nonetheless, in random order of importance:
- Bob Marley Museum, Saint Andrew– I’ve driven past the museum of world-renowned reggae icon Bob Marley for over a decade every morning, yet I have never been. Museums shouldn’t be only for international tourists; I believe locals have a responsibility to learn of their heritage and play their part in keeping it alive. There’s no better place than a museum to become re-acquainted with the past and hence, I’ll be stopping by for 2017.
2. Rockfort Mineral Bath & Spa, Kingston– After asking around, I think I’m the odd Kingstonian out who has never spent a childhood summer day here. This year I’ll put things right and visit one of Kingston’s oldest public facilities, found on the eastern edge of the city near the Norman Manley International Airport. Its mineral-rich waters are believed to be therapeutic, and on its grounds lie the historical ruins of an old fort.
3. Blue Mountain Peak, Portland– It is estimated that fewer than 5% of Jamaicans have ever visited this peak, which is 7,402 feet/2,256 m above sea level, the highest point in the island. It was declared a UNESCO World heritage site in 2015, and is mainly frequented by adventurous overseas tourists. This year I’ll hopefully join them and the 5%. Even better, I hope I’ll be lucky enough to visit on a clear day so I have a chance at glimpsing Cuba, our nearest neighbour, which is visible from the peak. I’ll approach in the DAYTIME. Night hiking is not yet for me, even though you are rewarded with seeing the whole island come alive at sunrise if you hike in the wee hours of the morning.
4. Castleton Botanical Gardens, Saint Mary– This garden is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the western hemisphere, established 1862. Running through the property is the Wag Water River, so you get to enjoy two beauties in one trip. A good way to spend a lazy afternoon. 😄
5. Caymanas River, Saint Catherine– Another lazy weekend or holiday spot, mainly known to and frequented by residents in and around the community of Caymanas. Swim and picnic your afternoon away in an inexpensive spot.
6. Lyssons Beach, Saint Thomas-As a student of the University of the West Indies, my ID grants me free access to this beach. It is about time I utilize that perk. Non-students are required to pay $250 each. Its facilities underwent recent improvements, so it should be a decent place to spend a day some time soon.
7. Another black sand Saint Thomas beach-Fondly referred to as black sand beaches, these are not true black sand but perhaps are so-called to distinguish them from the popular white sand beaches for which Jamaica is renowned (Negril, for example). According to Google Maps, my options include Bob Marley Beach near the St. Thomas/ St. Andrew border, Prospect Beach and Cerulean Bay. As far as I know, these are public beaches.
8. Chinese Garden at The Royal Botanical Gardens, Saint Andrew– I saw it during construction as a frequent Royal Botanical Gardens (aka Hope Gardens) visitor. However, I’ve yet to go inside the completed project. Since the botanical garden is free, I was annoyed by the $150 admission cost of seeing the newly built Chinese garden. However, when a friend of mine went last year and uploaded pictures to Facebook, my interest piqued since the completed attraction looked more beautiful than I had anticipated. I’ll have a look this year myself!
9. Any Portland waterfall– Did you know that Portland, the looker parish, has SIX different waterfalls? It may have more as I keep learning of local places I’ve never heard of before from browsing online. From current knowledge, my options include: Scatter Falls in Berrydale, Nanny Falls near Moore Town, Spanish River Falls in Chepstowe, Avocat Falls near Silver Hill, and the commercialized Reach Falls and Somerset Falls. With six to choose from, I aim to cross off at least one this year.
10. Frenchman’s Cove, Portland– River meets sea at this scenic spot. It is ranked among Jamaica’s top beaches, therefore no more reason needed to visit this beach in 2017.
11. Another Portland beach– According to Google Maps, my seven options include Winnifred Beach, Boston Beach, San San Beach, Innes Bay Beach, Long Bay Beach, Wilks Bay and ShanShy Beach.
12. Lime Cay, off the coast of Kingston– Fifteen minutes from Port Royal by boat, this tiny cay houses one of the most beautiful beaches of Jamaica.
13. Holywell, Saint Andrew– A paradise for true nature-lovers, this park deep inside the Blue Mountains offers hiking, camping, bird-watching and sightseeing with breathtaking views 900m above sea level.
The next three destinations are St. Ann spots, although if you take the new North-South highway in a small group, you’ll lose the cost effectiveness of these suggestions:
14. Irie River, Saint Ann– Irie River is a scenic section of the White River, about 15 minutes upstream from where river meets sea.
15. Island Gully Falls, St. Ann– Its pristine blue water and gentle falls, appropriately nicknamed the Blue Hole, has been growing in popularity since about 2014. There’s no better time to visit, before it becomes heavily commercialized and less accessible.
16. Windsor Mineral Spring, Saint Ann– Also known as Firewater Pond, this natural sulphur spring is found in the garden parish of Saint Ann, near its capital St. Ann’s Bay. Your guide will demonstrate the “fire water” feature to you, and you can even wade into the pond as the flames dance on the surface. The high concentration of minerals in the water is said to contain medicinal properties.
17. Fireworks by the Waterfront– Had to complete my list with fireworks for New Years’ Eve by the Waterfront, Down Town Kingston. I always watch on TV, and while I’m sure it won’t be entirely pleasant since I HATE crowded places, I’m willing to put my fears (NYE robberies, hello?) and dislike aside to view the Waterfront fireworks live.
Honourary mention to the luminous lagoon of Falmouth, Trelawny which is FOUR OF A KIND worldwide. I didn’t include it as I doubt it’ll be possible for me to visit this year, since you need to see it at night to appreciate the bioluminescence.
To which ones haven’t you been? Never been to Jamaica or haven’t been in a while? Commence travelling in 2017 with one of these spots. I’m aware most Kingstonians know of, or have already been to many of these places. The odds of you having been to all 17 is low, so do explore somewhere new. Let me know in the comments how was your experience at these places, and others you think I could’ve included. P.s. Pictures not included for all the places (yet) since I haven’t been to them myself (Not risking copyright infringement!). I’ll update with pictures and new blogs after each visit, so you can partake in adventures from Elle.
Currently been to 5 and counting! ✌ Last updated: April 6, 2017.