Renowned for its old world charm, secluded beaches and off-the-beaten-path allure, Jamaica’s South Coast is a veritable treasure trove of quintessential Caribbean culture. It is a region teeming with quaint fishing villages and elaborate Georgian architecture, a place known as much for its friendly people as for its pristine, untainted natural beauty. Complete with a rich biodiversity, delicious food and historical plantations, Jamaica’s South Coast is a not-to-be-missed destination getaway.
“With a rugged coastline, rambling hills, jungle wetlands, and colonial architecture, Jamaica’s South Coast is intriguingly diverse,” said Paul Pennicook, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism. “Its unspoiled beauty, warm people and lush vegetation has made it one of Jamaica’s heritage and ecotourism locations. Relatively untouched and all natural, the area is truly Jamaica’s best-kept secret, an ideal location for visitors who desire a laid-back and easy ambience.”
Jamaica’s South Coast is a treasure chest of coves and bays. A mixture of dark and white-sand stretches, rocky inlets, fishermen’s enclaves and secluded swimming spots, the region’s shores promise a range of possibilities.
SITES TO SEE
Treasure Beach: With a six-mile stretch of black and coral-colored sand, private coves and rocky shores, Treasure Beach is an untrodden respite brimming with the South Coast’s vibrant local culture and people. Having successfully maintained its charm as a modest fishing village, visitors can expect a truly authentic experience.
YS Falls: Rated by many as one of Jamaica’s most beautiful natural attractions, YS Falls is a series of eight cascades enveloped in limestone cliffs and surrounded by green fields. Guests can take in the majestic falls and verdant landscape while relaxing in one of the nearby spring pools. Adventurous travelers can even view the vista from above on a zip line canopy tour of the area.
Black River: The town of Black River, situated at the mouth of a river with the same name, was once a bustling shipping port and one of the grandest Caribbean towns of the 19th century. It is the first town on the island to receive electricity. Now a memory of that time, Black River’s ornate Georgian and Victorian architecture and lavish displays of colonial wealth make a visit there feel like a return to the past. Guests can complete their stay with a tour of Jamaica’s longest navigable river. Famous for its rare flora and fauna, including mangroves and American crocodiles, Black River is said to derive its name from large deposits of peat, which give the water its “black” coloring.
THINGS TO DO
Play golf: For a great game of golf, The Manchester Country Club on Brumalia Road in Mandeville is an ideal choice. Constructed soon after the game was invented in Scotland, The Manchester Country Club boasts Jamaica’s oldest course. Founded in 1865, the nine-hole course is the first in the island and the first Country Club in the New World. As the oldest in the Caribbean region, this golf club offers old-world charm in a scenic setting.
Tour a plantation: Appleton Estate Rum Tour gives visitors an inside look at the rum-making process. Visitors watch resident donkey “Pax” demonstrate how juice was extracted from sugarcane in the 18th century. From there the tour takes visitors to the Distillery and Aging House where the different methods of distillation are shown. Visitors are then able to juice their own cane, sample white rum and boil “wet sugar.”
Go on an eco-marine adventure: The eco-marine tour of Bluefields Bay starts from Belmont Beach, where fishing has been a way of life for more than 1400 years. This two-hour tour begins with a fisherman guide, who takes guests to the partially exposed Moor Reef. Here, guests marvel at the range of coral and schools of multicolored fish. Dolphins, flying fish, giant turtles and manatee are also often part of the experience.
PLACES TO DINE
Bloomfield Great House: Viewed as a destination in its own right, Bloomfield Great House has developed a reputation for serving excellent food in an intricately restored setting of historical interest. Superb menu items include smoked marlin with black caviar and lime-flavored aioli, plantain-crusted chicken served with passion fruit vinaigrette, and a delicious version of jumbo shrimp stuffed with jalapeno pepper, wrapped in bacon and served with barbecue sauce.
Little Ochie: An unassuming thatched structure overlooking the black sand of Jamaica’s south coast shoreline, Little Ochie is the perfect restaurant accompaniment to the region’s “get away” atmosphere. With a specialization in fresh seafood, serving everything from fish to conch, Little Ochie is most highly regarded for its lobster dish, widely lauded as the best in Jamaica.
The Den: One of Mandeville’s venerated old favorites, this restaurant is located in a century-old setting that was once a family home. Guests will enjoy the savory cuisine including curry chicken, steak kebabs (with onions, pineapple, and peppers), and Jamaica’s authentic jerk chicken and pork.
PLACES TO STAY
Jake’s: Located in a cove by the sea in the small fishing village of Treasure Beach, Jake’s maintains the South Coast’s penchant for the unpretentious. Here, guests find rooms that are sensual and exotic, airy and quirky, an eclectic medley perfect for a romantic getaway, a spiritual retreat or a bohemian adventure. Even better, room prices start at just $95 a night.
Hotel Villa Bella: Perched on a hill overlooking six acres of landscaped grounds, Hotel Villa Bella epitomizes the South Coast’s colonial charm. For $72 a night, guests can enjoy the hotel’s quaint atmosphere and refreshing tranquility.
Bluefields Bay Villas: A blend of comfort, privacy and luxury, Bluefields Bay is a five-star resort that offers the ultimate in personalized service at its six luxurious waterfront villas. Prices at the lavish country retreat range by season, starting at $3,882 for a five-night stay.
HOW TO GET THERE
Visitors can choose to fly into Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport served by Air Canada, American Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United Airlines. From Montego Bay, visitors can take a two-hour transfer to the South Coast with an approved transportation provider such as Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA) orJamaica Co-operative Automobile Limousine Tours (JACAL).
For further information on travel to Jamaica, please go to http://www.visitjamaica.com.