Jamaica - Nature and Scientific Wonders | Travel | Smithsonian

Jamaica - Nature and Scientific Wonders

Jamaica - Nature and Scientific Wonders

smithsonian.com

Jamaica's biggest natural attraction is certainly its miles of coastline and visitors flock to white sand beaches around the island for relaxation, natural beauty, watersports and parties. The island is also home to more nude beaches than any other Caribbean island. One of Jamaica's most famous offerings is Seven Mile Beach in Negril, which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches, although its occasionally aggressive vendors and nudity-friendly areas make it not for the timid.

Treasure Beach
Those looking for a more serene alternative should explore the south coast's Treasure Beach, a set of quiet fishing villages on six miles of shoreline that include Billy's Bay, Frenchman's Bay, Calabash Bay and Great Bay. Treasure Beach is known as much for its snorkeling, surfing and swimming as for its friendly residents, many of whom work as farmers or fishermen. The area is considered Jamaica's "desert coast" as it receives the lowest levels of rainfall on the island and the vegetation is markedly different here than elsewhere on Jamaica. Just east of Treasure Beach is Lovers Leap, where legend holds that a slave couple jumped over the 1,700-foot cliff to their deaths to avoid being separated.

YS Falls
YS Falls on the south coast is a series of seven waterfalls in a tropical forest; the falls boast the shortest place name in all of Jamaica and portions are open for swimming. Somerset Falls in Port Antonio and Mayfield Falls in the Glenbrook district with two falls and 21 mineral pools also welcome guests.

Green Grotto Caves
With their striking limestone stalactites and stalagmites, the Green Grotto Caves are worth a trip when visitors need a break from the sun. The caves have purportedly served as a shelter for the Arawak Indians (also known as the Tainos) who were early Jamaican residents, a haven for runaway slaves and a hiding place for arms dealers. They now play host to visitors who wander through passageways and take in the Grotto Lake, a subterranean body of water that guests can cross in boats during their visit.

Bluefields Mountains
A hike through the Bluefields Mountains affords sightseers spectacular views of Bluefields Bay as well as an opportunity to take in some of Jamaica's 250-plus species of birds who call the island home, including 27 that are found only on Jamaica. Among the plant species of the Bluefields Mountains is the Chusquea abietifolia, a bamboo that flowers only once every 33 years and is due for its next bloom in 2017. Jamaica's other unique residents include the Jamaican Tody, a bird that nests in the ground instead of in trees, varieties of rare yellow snakes and the Giant Swallowtail butterfly, which has a wingspan of up to six inches and is thought to be the largest butterfly in the western hemisphere. For a closer look at Jamaica's birds, stop at the Rocklands Bird Sanctuary near Montego Bay, where visitors can not only observe, but hand feed some of the birds. Just outside of Negril, the 300-acre Royal Palm Reserve welcomes visitors with opportunities for bird watching, horseback riding, crocodile viewing and fishing.

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus