Some people know the value of taking the path less traveled. In Jamaica, many of the best sights and attractions are off the beaten track. If you are yearning for something more than a typical vacation and if you are looking for an adventurer’s paradise, then the South Coast of Jamaica is for you. Miles of deserted beaches and exciting country roads await you in this little known area of Jamaica. Of course, if you want to lie by the beach and read a book, the South Coast of Jamaica offers some of the most beautiful and diverse beaches on the island. The center of the area is the mouth of Black River, the longest river in Jamaica, and the historic town of the same name. Once busy with the export of logwood, sugar and honey, Black River’s architecture reflects its prosperous past as the first town on the island to get electricity and motor vehicles. Today the town is a quiet peaceful, yet vibrant community and the surrounding area is one of unspoiled tropical splendor. The largest wetland in Jamaica is in the Black River area and is home to over 300 crocodiles and 100 species of birds including the famous, ‘Crocodile Dentist’, a green and black heron who swoops down to floss the teeth of the open mouthed crocodiles.
Further down the coast is the small sleepy village of Treasure Beach. The dry, limestone outcrops and wide dark sand beach is described as one of the most beautiful areas on the island. It is largely inhabited by fishermen because of it close proximity to the Pedro Banks. This area is unlike anywhere else in Jamaica, still relatively unknown and well worth a visit. The local people are always friendly and have developed their own brand of tourism, neighborhood tourism. Many of the inhabitants of this area have been living there for many generations and have lived quietly as fishermen and farmers. Their sense of belonging and connection to the land is strong and shows in the pride they take in their existence. The highlight of each day comes when the fishermen return in the early evening, bringing in the day’s catch. Treasure Beach is truly Jamaica’s diamond in the rough and offers a true glimpse into the daily lives of Jamaicans.
Jamaica’s motto is ‘Out of Many, One People’, and reflects Jamaica’s proud and diverse heritage. The majority of Jamaicans are African, however during the colonial period, large numbers of Irish, Germans, Welsh, Spanish and Portuguese Jews took advantage of the profits to be had by “King Sugar”. Following emancipation, Chinese and Indians arrived as indentured laborers. Each group carried with it a history of traditions and Jamaica proclaims itself a melting pot of racial harmony. After centuries of brewing, all have blended together to give the island its rich history and heritage of legends, cultures and customs displayed against the backdrop of Jamaica’s beauty. This melting pot is never more evident than in the people of the South Coast, especially Treasure Beach where you will come across many brown skinned, green eyed, blond haired mulattos of German, Scottish and Irish descent. Legend has it that a Scottish Expedition tried to colonize somewhere in Panama, failing dismally, they set course to wherever God took them. The landed at Bluefields and ended up in Treasure Beach, Southfield, Ballard’s Valley, Bull Savannah and Alligator Pond. Others were wealthy, well-educated Scottish and English families of royal decent fleeing Scotland after the Jacobite rebellion was squashed by the English and Cromwell assumed power in England.
the path less traveled….
The Black River is one of the few, easily accessible waterways along which one can see rare tropical animals undisturbed in their natural habitat. For those with the pioneering spirit, guided river tours are available to see the flora and fauna, an experience said to rival the breath taking beauty of the Florida Everglades. We will be happy to arrange guided tours up the river in comfortable motor launches. Expert guides are quick to point out the many Herons, Terns, Egrets, and Crocodiles on a seven mile tour into the wetlands.
Very close to Black River is YS Falls. These privately owned waterfalls are probably the most beautiful and unspoiled falls in Jamaica. Covered, tractor drawn jitneys take adventure seekers through the rich, tropical countryside to a remote corner of the valley where water cascades down 120 feet of beautifully formed rock. Below the falls, dream like swimming holes beckon visitors to take a dip in a setting of unparalleled tranquility. People who take the path less traveled are usually fascinated by the local history of the South Coast. One very tasty morsel of history comes in the form of a tour of the renowned Appleton Estate and Rum Distillery, where the finest rum in the world is produced. A visit to the 240 year old property typically includes a relaxing stop in the hospitality lounge to sample the local fare and tour the factory to see how sugar is turned into rum. The estate boasts an interesting gift shop full of locally made products and a challenge to anyone who can sample all the different rums and walk away.
In the nearby town of Maggoty, there are two exciting attractions quite close to each other. One is Apple Valley Park in the center of town. This is a park with a difference. There are rods and ponds for fishing, paddle boats and kayaks. There are trails for hiking and waterfalls for cooling down. For those who like to take it easy, try a tractor tour of the falls. The food and entertainment are also outstanding. The best of the local dishes are prepared to order and local musical groups often perform on an outdoor stage. A stop at Glenwyn Halt, just on the other side of Maggoty, is another highlight. Quaint bamboo huts along the river’s edge display a host of local crafts. There is a restaurant, bar and shops selling carvings, straw goods and clothing. A boat trip to the Maroon Treasure Caves, a short distance from the riverbank, is a must. Because fishing is one of the most popular occupations along the South Coast, seafood is always fresh and plentiful. Numerous cozy roadside restaurants and bars provide relaxing places to stop for local food and drink.
Bluefields Bay stretches for 6 miles along the coast and is broken up by a number of small coves. Along the western fringe of the Bay stands Paradise Park, a 1000-acre cattle and diary farm that has been in the same family for more than a century. Horseback riding can be arranged and afterward explore the grounds of the estate on trails cut through a tropical forest full of bird life. In May and June, you can pick sun ripened mangos right of the trees. The waters are ideal for swimming and you can picnic in a park where picnic tables and open barbecue grills are provided. You can also swim in the Sweet River after lunch.
On the other side of Treasure Beach, delights also await to tantalize the senses. No visit is complete without a trip to Guts River. The water is crystal clear and flows from an underground spring. The swimming hole is 20 feet deep and offers a wonderland of sea life to explore. The river flows into the sea where the beach beckons you to visit this pristine, untouched piece of heaven on earth. Further along is Manatee River, three manatees inhabit this beautiful marsh river and guided boat tours are offered to view them in their habitat. For the brave, feel free to jump out and swim with them. This trip is not complete without a visit to Milk River Baths. It is said to have the highest radioactivity of any mineral bath in the world and you are limited to no more than 30 minutes in its curative waters. Jamaicans swear by its power to ease the aches and pains of the body, leaving a cleansed and relaxed feeling. Legend has it that it was found by a slave who had been beaten so badly, he had been left to die. He lay in the waters and was completely healed.
Not to be missed is Lover’s Leap, where local folklore tells of two young lovers forbidden to see each other ever again. In a desperate bid to be together forever, the couple chose to meet at this spot where together they jumped off the 1700 feet sheer cliff into the sea below. The panoramic view along the coastline is spectacular and a restaurant, bar and small museum complete the experience.
Whether you chose one or all of these attractions, we will be happy to customize your sightseeing, tailoring them to your specific needs. Do not hesitate to ask for anything, our goal is to make your vacation one to remember. One thing you will never be disappointed by is the warmth and charm of the people you will meet. They are always willing to stop and chat, passing the time of day with you and welcoming you to their unique neighborhood.
They are always willing to stop and chat, passing the time of day with you and welcoming you to their unique neighborhood.
the path less traveled….
The article was provided by the Button Bay Beach Getaway