Jamaica’s Top Natural Attractions
Jamaica is a Caribbean island nation known as much for giving the world reggae and Bob Marley as it is for its stunning beaches. With over a million tourists visiting this tropical paradise each year, why not skip some of the more blustery and busy activities like four-wheeling and zip-lining and instead do some hiking, swimming and marveling? Jamaica is home to some stunning natural sights that will give you a true sense of the island as a place unique unto itself, and while there are certainly more than this small batch, these seven must-sees are a great place to start.
Well known among tourists, this southern coastal beach follows a six-mile stretch among a quaint group of quiet fishing villages and a handful of serene bays. With excellent swimming and snorkeling, Treasure Beach is considered to be a part of Jamaica’s “desert coast” because it receives such lower levels of rainfall and features markedly different vegetation. If you’re a romantic, you can also wander just to the east of Treasure Beach where you will find Lovers Leap, a 1,700-foot cliff where local mythology claims a slave couple about to be separated leapt to their deaths.
Another peaceful place in the southern part of the island, YS Falls is a series of seven waterfalls and mineral pools that offer amazing sights and low human environmental impact on the area. The falls and pools are all within the fecundity of the tropical forest, and some portions are even open to swimming — which is indicated by the presence of a lifeguard. Regardless of whether you’re a swimmer or not, the area is rich with flowering trees, lilies, colorful birds and more.
Green Grotto Caves
A purported early shelter for runaway slaves, arms dealers and the Tainos — early Jamaican natives — the Green Grotto Caves are now a destination site for sun-weary tourists. The caves feature stunning limestone stalactite and stalagmite formations and seemingly endless passageways. There’s even an underground body of water called Grotto Lake that is large enough for visitors to cross over in a boat.
The Bluefield Mountains
Hiking among the Bluefield Mountains gives guests their best chance to view some of Jamaica’s 250 bird species — 27 of which are found only on the island. Special plants species also abound in this area like the Chusquea abietfolia, a bamboo species that only flowers every 33 years. You might also see rare yellow snakes or the Giant Swallowtail butterfly — which has a wingspan of up to six inches. There are almost limitless opportunities to spy unique creatures and fauna in these mountains. You’ll also get a spectacular view of Bluefield Bay.
The Black River
The Black River sits within the lush jungle and runs along through the island’s southern coast. Take a guided river tour, so you can see crocodiles, mangrove trees, creepy swamps and a showcase of amazing birds.
The Blue Lagoon
Surrounded by forested cliffs and named after Brooke Shields’ career-defining movie, the Blue Lagoon is a stunning turquoise blue that’s wonderful for swimming. Because the waters are fed by tidal waves and underground streams pouring in from the mountains, the water is a refreshing mix of warm and cool currents. While it can sometimes be crowded, catching the Blue Lagoon when few people are around is more than worth the effort.
Located along the northern side of the island, Boston Beach is a coastal town purported to be the birthplace of Jamaican jerk spice. It also has a public beach that is one of the only places where surfing is regular on the island. If you want to take in some great local food and the tremendously delicious smells that accompany it, Boston Beach’s copious jerk food stands are a must, and you won’t usually have to compete with throngs of people, either.
Jamaica is an island on most vacationers’ bucket lists. Its fantastic beaches, world-class music scene, verdant jungles, appealing nightlife and scintillating cuisine will charm almost anyone. Taking in Jamaica’s natural wonder at a slower pace will also most certainly pay off. From rivers to beaches to stunning waterfalls, Jamaica has plenty to offer the tourist who wants a more natural and meditative experience.