GUEST POST by Rochelle Knight of Adventures from Elle
Jamaica’s fifth smallest parish isn’t the first to come to mind when one envisions a Jamaican adventure. Hopefully this article will change that. Saint Mary is home to a few secluded luxury villas and for us budget travelers, many off-the-beaten-path treasures. Just about every kind of adventure can be had in this parish– river tubing, beach bumming, waterfall seeking, abandoned-fort-exploring, you name it. With that said, choose your niche and let’s check off one of these places on your next stay-cation:
St. Mary for The Beach Bum
- James Bond Beach– Named for you guessed it, James Bond, this beach is found along Jamaica’s northeastern coast in the quaint picturesque town of Oracabessa. The beach forms part of the late Ian Flemming’s estate, writer of 007. He lived nearby in Goldeneye, now an exclusive luxury resort, so James Bond Beach was one of his frequented swimming spots. While the beach keeps its affiliation to Flemming and his series rather low-key, turquoise blue water and all-around stunning views are inviting enough reasons to visit at least once.
- Reggae Beach, Tower Isle– If you’d like to ditch the crowds of Ocho Rios’ beaches, Reggae Beach is a quieter and equally as stunning alternative. It attracts mostly a local crowd so the experience here is authentically Jamaican, a welcome change for many.
- Robin’s Bay public beaches– Robin’s Bay boasts three beaches, two of which are public beaches while the third is owned and operated by the Strawberry Fields Together resort for its guests. These beaches are a bit more rugged than what the average beachgoer may expect but for true adventurers who prefer skipping the crowds, the public beaches of Robin’s Bay are worth paying a visit.
St. Mary for The Waterfall Junkie
- Tacky Falls– Tacky Falls is a towering majesty hidden in the forests of Islington with no marked trails to find it. However, don’t despair! Many Islington residents are happy to accommodate tourists and serve as very capable guides. The waterfall is named for Tacky, the slave who inspired and led a series of islandwide rebellions against British enslavement in 1760, since his men were found dead in a cave near the waterfall after defeat, choosing to commit suicide rather than return to slavery. It is said that only eroded rocks mark the waterfall’s course today but for those who have succeeded in finding this beauty, we’ll say it was worth it.
- Kwame Falls– Another reason to visit Robin’s Bay, Kwame Falls is another hidden beauty with historical significance. It is said that Kwame was one of the soldiers who fought alongside Tacky in the 1760 revolt, the most successful slave rebellion in Jamaica before that of the Rt. Excellent Sam Sharpe in 1831. Kwame Falls requires about 2 hours of hiking, but if you want good you nose haffi run right? Those who succeed in finding Kwame Falls never leave disappointed.(P.S. Read a detailed recap of the Kwame Falls experience right here at SimplyLocal.life!)
- Johnny Falls– Surprisingly unknown despite its breathtaking beauty, Johnny Falls are a series of cascades hidden in Palmetto Grove, Highgate, St. Mary. Looking like a cross between Y.S. Falls and a few other uncommercialized waterfalls in Jamaica, it’s only a matter of time before Johnny Falls becomes Jamaica’s newest Instagram wonder.
St. Mary for The History Buff
- Firefly Estate– Home of pirate Sir Henry Morgan then later renowned English playwright, the late Noel Coward, Firefly Estate has been renovated to a writer’s museum and is open to the public for tours. Coward’s remains are buried on the grounds of Firefly beneath a humble marble plaque while a statue of him overlooks the expansive bay. If the historical significance is not enough incentive to visit, perhaps the views will win you over. The panoramic Caribbean Sea views from Firefly are said to extend all the way to Port Antonio on a clear day. Not surprisingly, Firefly Estate is a Jamaican outdoor wedding destination that’s growing in popularity.
- Fort Haldane– If you share my love for old forts, you’ll understand why Fort Haldane is a must-see for me. Fort Haldane is located near Port Maria and was erected in 1759 to protect the harbour from Spanish raids.The guns of the fort are strategically positioned on a hill facing seaward, which gives a wide and magnificent view of the old shipping port of Port Maria. The fort is located next to Firefly Estate which allows one the opportunity of killing two birds with one stone. Also, Fort Haldane played a pivotal role in Tacky’s 1760 revolt since this was invaded by he and his men to provide the gunpowder and firearms they needed to carry out their plans.
- Rio Nuevo Battle Site– The unassuming village of Rio Nuevo was the site of Jamaica’s most important battle ever between the Spanish and English which took place on June 17, 1658. This battle was Spain’s last attempt to recapture Jamaica from the British, resulting in Jamaica becoming a British colony. Spain formally ceded control of Jamaica to England under the Treaty of Madrid in 1670.The site is now a picturesque green space with a museum depicting artefacts discovered on the site and tells the story of the monumental battle. Outside the museum is a gazebo and plaques honouring both the Spanish and English soldiers who fought in the battle. There is also access to the beach where the invading fleet arrived.
St. Mary for The Nature Lover
- Castleton Botanical Gardens – One of the oldest botanical gardens in the Western hemisphere, Castleton Botanical Gardens straddles the Junction main road which links the Saint Andrew and Saint Mary parishes. The 15-acre garden is free to enter and now serves as a popular picnic spot for Kingstonians wanting a break from city life.
- The Wag Water River– Flowing through the back of the garden is a beautiful accompaniment- The Wag Water River. Named by our Taino ancestors, this river is rather shallow but swift-flowing and riddled with boulders. Nonetheless, a dip in this river is a cool and refreshing way to spend the afternoon during our hotter months.
- Blue Hole/ Island Gully Falls– Rounding out the list is arguably one of Jamaica’s most popular waterfalls at the moment, thanks to the advent of social media. Island Gully Falls or Blue Hole lies along the White River which separates the St. Mary and St. Ann parishes. The cascades here are plenty, the grounds are incredibly beautiful and the adrenalin-junkies among us can get their fix from jumping into the water from three different heights.
Thanks for reading! May we cross paths in Saint Mary this year and special shoutout to Simplylocal.life on its recent first blogiversary. Thanks for having me, Jhunelle and I wish you tonnes of blog growth for the years to come. 🤗 🥂
Writer, Adventures from Elle
Rochelle chronicles off-the-beaten-path adventures in Jamaica. Behind the blog is a 20-something year old woman, full-time student, and part-time tourist who explores on a budget whenever her schedule allows.Visit Website
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