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Jamaica

Main attractions

Jamaica, mountains
Jamaica, mountains / Greg Walters, / CC BY 2.0

Jamaica is the third largest Caribbean island with distinct local culture and amazing nature.

Highlights of Jamaica are:

  • Unique ecosystems - island has many diverse ecosystems with numerous rare and endemic species of plants and animals. Some are plain unique, such as Rockbay with its powerful bioluminescence.
  • Caves and sinkholes - there are known more than 1000 caves and sinkholes in Jamaica, some regions of the island are criscrossed by underground passages.

Major values of Jamaica though are not bound to a single place - the fusion of different cultures on the island has given a birth to multiple unique cultural phenomena, such as reggae, Rastafari, unique cuisine, dance styles etc.

Natural landmarks

Caves and sinkholes

Green Grotto, Jamaica
Green Grotto / Brandie, / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Coffee River Cave - Manchester. Large cave with beautiful formations - numerous stalactites and stalagmites. Explored length - 2,801 m.
  • Dunn's Hole - Trelawny (Saint Ann?). The largest cave chamber in Jamaica, some 200 m long, 100 m wide and up to 80 m high. It is located at the bottom of 200 m deep, slanting sinkhole with 100 by 80 m large entrance.
  • Gourie Cave - Manchester. One of the largest and most interesting caves in Jamaica, explored length 3,505 m. Cave contains gours (rimstone pools), flowstone.
  • Green Grotto Caves - Saint Ann. 1,525 m long cave system, used as a shelter by Taino people.
  • Hutchinson's Hole - Saint Ann. Large sinkhole with bad fame. Serial killer Lewis Hutchinson used to throw his victims here in the 18th century. Also later many have fallen into this hole. Sinkhole is some 98 m deep. Upper entrance is just 5 by 3 m wide, but with the depth it becomes larger until reaching 18 by 25 m size.
  • Jackson's Bay Caves - Clarendon. Group of closely located caves with total length exceeding 10 km, although the connections between some of the caves still need to be found. Some of the most beautiful caves in Caribbean. Here have been found prehistoric engravings and rock paintings. Human bones from around 1240 AD have been found. Here have been found remnants of such extinct animals as Jamaican monkey (Xenothrix mcgregori) and the unique Jamaican ibis (Xenicibis xympithecus) whose wings were like clubs, possibly used in fights.

Waterfalls

YS Falls, Jamaica
YS Falls / Alberto Bondoni, / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Dunn's River Falls - Saint Ann. Approximately 55 m tall waterfall with many cascades and spectacular tufa formations. Waterfall ends directly in the sea. Popular tourist destination, tourists enjoy climbing the falls.
  • YS Falls - Saint Elizabeth. Secluded, some 37 m tall waterfall with seven cascades. Waterfall is fed by natural springs.

Ecosystems

  • Hellshire Hills - Saint Catherine. Some of the largest and most interesting dry forests in Caribbean, with 53 endemic species of plants and many endemic animals, such as Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei) and skink Mabuya mabouya.
  • Portland Ridge - Clarendon. Dry limestone forest with many endemic species of plants and animals, such as tree frog Eleutherodactylus cavernicola, two thunder snakes Trophidophis stullae and Trophidophis jamaicensis, and the endemic Blue-Tailed Galliwasp (Celestus duquesneyi).
  • Rockbay bioluminescence - Saint Ann. Small bay, one of the best places in the world to experience bioluminescence. It is caused by high concentration of Pyrodinium bahamense microorganisms.

Other natural landmarks

Kindah Tree in Accompong, Jamaica
Kindah Tree in Accompong, 1993 / Angra, / CC BY 3.0
  • Blue Lagoon (Blue Hole) - Portland. Natural lagoon - sea bay, fed by powerful springs. This 55 m deep lagoon has unusual, deep blue color, which changes as the sunlight changes throughout the day.
  • Dornoch's Head (Dornock River Rise) - Cockpit. Largest river rise (surfacing of underground river) in Jamaica. This deep blue, circular pool is the head of Rio Bueno.
  • Kindah Tree, Accompong - Saint Elizabeth. Enormous mango tree of great historical importance. According to legends, under this tree met rebellious Maroons, led by Cudjoe in the early 18th century.
  • Riversdale Natural Bridge - Saint Catherine. Large natural bridge over a tributary of Rio Cobre, with road going over it.

Man made landmarks

Taino petroglyphs and cliff paintings

Taino petroglyphs have been found in different sites of the island, here are mentioned just some of the most prominent sites.

  • Kempshot Cave - Saint Mary. Cave with Taino rock carvings on stalactites.
  • Mountain River Cave - Saint Catherine. One of the most prominent rock art sites in Jamaica, with 148 identifiable cliff paintings and 4 - 5 petroglyphs.
  • Pantrepant West Cave - Trelawny. Cave with Taino petroglyphs on a 1.5 m tall stalagmite. It is possible that these carvings are aligned with winter solstice.

Historical cities

  • Spanish Town Historic District - Saint Catherine. Old city, established by Spanish in 1534, capital of Jamaica until 1872. Numerous historical buildings.
  • The Underwater City of Port Royal - Kingston and Saint Andrew. This historical city was submerged in the sea in 1692 after an catastrophic earthquake. Thus the city has been preserved very well and represents an unique testimony of English colonial town from the late 17th century. Captain Morgan was buried in a cemetery which is under the sea now.

Other man made landmarks

Rose Hall, Jamaica
Rose Hall / Sarah Ackerman, / CC BY 2.0
  • Iron bridge in Spanish Town - Saint Catherine. Historical bridge from cast iron, built in 1801, 29.7 m long.
  • Old House of Assembly, Spanish Town - Saint Catherine. Historical building for the Assembly of Jamaica, constructed in 1762.
  • Rose Hall - Saint James. Large and ornate historical mansion, built in the 1770s in Jamaican Georgian style. Acoording to the legends, this mansion is haunted by the White Witch - a voodoo practicer, who killed many people. It is doubtful whether she existed in reality.
  • St. James Cathedral in Spanish Town - Saint Catherine. The oldest Anglican church in British Caribbean. First, Spanish, church was built here in 1525, later on its foundations was built Anglican church. Current church was rebuilt in 1714 after the previous one was destroyed by hurricane.

List of described attractions by parishes

Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes:

Clarendon
Hanover
Kingston
Manchester
Portland
Saint Andrew
Saint Ann
ArrowDunn's River FallsWaterfalls
Saint Catherine
Saint Elizabeth
Saint James
Saint Mary
Saint Thomas
Trelawny
Westmoreland

Map of Jamaica

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