Jamaica's top 5 natural highlights

Jamaica is an island known for its pristine beaches, dazzling white sands and crystal clear waters; you’d expect nothing less from a treasured Caribbean island after all. But if you pry yourself from those golden sands, if you leave the rhythms and ice-cold cocktails of the quaint beach-shacks to trek through the palm trees and deeper into the island, you’ll discover another world completely. A world of verdant hills, rolling rivers, trickling streams, secret lagoons and majestic, soaring mountain peaks. For Jamaica offers so much more than just the quintessential Caribbean beach. There is a haven of natural beauty that lies just beyond the shoreline.

Blue Mountain Peak

Standing at an impressive 7,402 feet, Blue Mountain is one of the highest peaks in the Caribbean and the best place to observe the botanical wonder and greenery that Jamaica offers. Whether the peaks of the mountains are set against clear skies or gathering mist, the sight of this range is sure to astound. It’s roughly a ten kilometre hike to the top, which will take you roughly three to four hours to complete. Though this journey can be done under the beautiful Caribbean sun, most locals and the more discerning of travellers will trek in darkness just before the sun breaks. The panoramas from the top of Blue Mountain Peak are amazing, but watching the sun rise above the rolling hills only serves to emphasise the natural beauty on offer.

The Blue Mountains, Jamaica

Green Grotto Caves

Located between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay on the North coast of the island, these underground caves will fill with a wonder that only grows as you learn more about their history. From the 17th to the 20th century, the caves have played host to a variety of people, events and colliding histories – it was a hideout for Spaniards during the English invasion, it was used to smuggle arms to Cuba later and the space has even been used to store barrels of the island’s rum. There is a labyrinth down there for you to explore, with large pockets, small caverns and trickling streams running through these unique formations; as well as the impressive subterranean lake.

Green Grotto Caves Jamaica

Blue Hole

Often suggested as an alternative to the increasingly popular Dunns River Falls, the Blue Hole is a quieter, more secluded spot hidden in the forests above bustling Ocho Rios. It’s not an official, listed tourist attraction and there are no queues or vendors surrounding this beautiful swimming spot and waterfall. It’s just you, a few friends, one or two other clued up travellers and some warm blue waters to plunge in to. Head to the Blue Hole if you want to enjoy pure, unadulterated nature tucked away in the heart of the Jamaican landscape.

Blue Hole Jamaica

Barney’s Hummingbird Garden

Though natural beauty roams freely across the entire island, nowhere is it more condensed and visible than in these Hummingbird Gardens in Negril’s West end. Dense tropical vegetation and colourful flora and fauna are present in abundance in this bountiful jungle. And, of course, there are plenty of fascinating hummingbirds flitting around. These colourful birds are one of nature’s most enchanting creatures and to see one gracefully hovering mere metres from you will give you a newfound respect and appreciation for their elegance. Though we’re hesitant to steer you towards technology during your Jamaican journey, the amazing hovering ability of these birds becomes even more impressive when you utilise slow-motion on your smart phone. Keep an eye out for Doctor Birds (the national bird of Jamaica) as well as mockingbirds and nightingales.

Pink Hibiscus Flower in Jamaica

Tom Marchant is Co-founder of Black Tomato.

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Comments (1)

  1. Emily McHugh says:

    I remember visiting some of these places as a child – time to re-visit them:) This article perfectly sums up the beauty and wonder that is Jamaica! Thank you for highlighting what lies beyond the beaches – not only even more natural beauty, but a rich and deep historical and cultural heritage awaits the adventurous traveler!

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