Jamaica - Landmarks and Points of Interest

Green Grotto Caves Courtesy of the Jamaica Tourist Board

At Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios, visitors can walk to the top, holding hands in a chain for stability and guided by experienced leaders, or view the falls from various observation points. The 600-foot falls continuously regenerate from travertine rock deposits and the proximity to the beach adds to their allure. Film buffs will recognize the area from the first James Bond movie Dr. No; Bond author Ian Fleming fell in love with Jamaica while visiting the island for a naval conference and spent many winters there at his estate, Goldeneye, in Oracabessa. Goldeneye has since been redeveloped into an 18-acre luxury resort property. Jamaica has long been a retreat for those in the arts and Fleming's circle of friends in Jamaica included the actor, composer and playwright Noel Coward, who lived at a home called Firefly, which is now maintained by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust and curious visitors can tour the house, grounds and gravesite of Coward.

Discovery Bay on the north coast was so named because it was believed to be the spot where Christopher Columbus landed when he arrived on Jamaica; although recent findings indicate that Columbus likely came ashore just west of Discovery Bay, the area is still the site of an open-air museum called Columbus Park.

More recent history has been made at Walker's Wood Village, where a community initiative to help residents find work snowballed into a multi-national corporation. Residents of the Ocho Rios village fell on hard times, facing unemployment, poverty and the exodus of their young people to the city of Kingston. In the late 1970's, the Walker's Wood Village Council was formed to help solve the village's problems and out of that was borne the Walkerswood Caribbean Foods Company. Initially the company simply sold jerk pork to local bars as a way to provide jobs to residents and Walkerswood now exports more than 20 products, employs 150 people and offers visitors a Jerk Country Tour.

The 130-acre Cranbrook Flower Forest in St. Ann offers guests a chance to explore tropical gardens, pools, a rain forest and hiking trails, all with the goal of teaching visitors about native plants and the importance of protecting the environment. Throughout the island, botanical gardens will please master botanists and those with a passing appreciation of plants alike. The Royal Botanical Gardens, Hope—often called simply Hope Gardens—is part of a 2,000 acre area owned in the late 1600s by Major Richard Hope. The Gardens were developed with assistance from the Kew Gardens in England and were officially renamed the Royal Botanical Gardens, Hope in the 1950s following a visit from Queen Elizabeth II. Although the plant and animal species that call it home have been hit hard by hurricanes over the years, Hope Gardens continues to host an excellent cross section of Jamaican flora and fauna; visitors will find an Orchid House, a zoo, sunken gardens, a bougainvillea walk, a "palm avenue" and a lily pond, among other sights.

Additional gardens around the island include the Castleton Botanical Garden, the oldest public botanical garden in the western hemisphere and where many plant species were introduced to Jamaica; the 25-acre Shaw Park Botanical Gardens in Ocho Rios, overlooking the Caribbean Sea; and Cinchona Gardens, which was established in 1868 and named for the Cinchona plant that was brought to Jamaica from Peru and from which Quinine, a drug used to treat malaria, is an extract.

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