One of the finest eco-tourist experiences in Jamaica can be found in Holywell Park. Its 300 acres serve as the gateway to the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP). Functioning as a “park inside a park,” Holywell is lcated at 3,500 feet above sea level, and features lush vegetation that is often shrouded in a tropical mist. It is possible to see Kingston, Portmore, and Porto Royal from the park.
Just a 90-minute drive from Kingston, the BJCMNP spans three parishes and is the country’s only terrestrial national park. Fully one-third of the island’s national forests are protected within this area. Many unique plants and animals make their homes in the park, including the smallest orchids in the world and a bamboo plant that flowers only once in every 33 years. One of the largest snakes on the island, the Jamaican Boa, can be found there, as can the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, the largest butterfly in the Western Hemisphere. Holywell also contains ten major rivers.
Hikers can enjoy four well-maintained trails, with the waterfall trail especially popular as it leads to an unspoiled waterfall and river that features several great swimming holes. The park offers several covered gazeboes and picnic tables that are perfect for group outings and cook-outs.
For those who want to stay overnight, there are three self-contained cabins and camping tents in Holywell, linked by easy nature trails to the ranger station and picnic area. These rustic accommodations can sleep four to eight people; all have kitchenettes and hot and cold water. The cabins have balconies that provide a spectacular view of Kingston.
The park includes a special area for children known as the Kids Discovery Zone.
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