Cockpit Country is a rugged, mountainous, almost inaccessible region in the interior of western Jamaica. It is characterized by cockpit karst, which consists of formations of steep-sided limestone hills and ridges punctuated with sinkholes (some up to 390 feet [119 meters] deep), valleys, and basins. The flat bottoms of the valleys and basins contain terra rosa soils, which are some of the most fertile and productive on the island.
Because Cockpit Country could not be settled and the forests could not be cleared for agriculture, it remains the largest undisturbed contiguous rainforest in Jamaica. The mountainous region contains a unique environment, which is home to many species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, and insects that are found nowhere else in the world.
The area is so inaccessible, even by today's standards, that Barbecue Bottom Road is the only road that penetrates Cockpit Country. It is a rough north-south road that was built along the side of a deep fault-based valley. The only other access into Cockpit Country is by two historic trails, Troy Trail and Quick Step Trail. Both trails have generally been unused over the last few decades.
Cockpit Country played an important role in the history of Jamaica. In 1655, the British invaded the island and seized it from the Spanish. The fleeing Spanish let their slaves go, and the slaves, known as Maroons, fled to Cockpit Country due to its remoteness and inaccessibility. For over 100 years, the Maroons attacked and harassed the British as they tried to evict them from the hills. The British never could penetrate the area with enough forces, and in 1738 they were forced to negotiate a peace treaty with the Maroons. This treaty ceded sovereign lands to the Maroons and gave them complete autonomy, even though slavery persisted in the rest of Jamaica for about the next 100 years. The Maroons still control Cockpit Country, and they are still suspicious of outsiders. However, as eco-tourism is becoming increasingly important to the economy of Jamaica, they are beginning to open some areas to eco-tourists.
I visited the edge of Cockpit Country on the back of a motocycle driven by a ganja-smoking Rastafarian who gave me a tour of the countryside outside of Montego Bay. That is something that I would not do today, but I was younger and maybe a bit more adventurous then.
River,Valley, and Mountains.
Just a short drive from Montego Bay but you will think you are on a different island.
The Orange River Ranch is the place to go for relaxing and birdwatching. There you will find 998 acres of seclusion.
If you really must, there are shuttles into Mo Bay daily.Related to:
Bobo Camp in Bull Bay
One of the oldest groups of the Rastafarian Movement in Jamaica is the one from Prince Emmanuel. His followers, the Edwardites or more commonly called 'Bobo's or Bobo Dreads' have a specific outlook on Rastafarianism. They live in Bull Bay, 10 miles out of Kingston, on top of a hill, they have baptised Mount Zion. The bobo's have a strict community. They wear a turban and robes. Their specific branch of Rastafarianism seems to be spreading since I was there and did a study on them in 1987/1988. Nowadays they have branches in Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia and on the major Caribbean Islands with a black community.
Hangin' with family...
We were lucky enough to spend some time with a real Jamaican family. We were picked up at the airport by Mr. Palmer and went directly to Whithorn for homemade ackee & saltfish, and some real down home hospitality.
Many Jamaican's don't have much, but they're still more than happy to share & show you a good time!
I'll cherish the time we spent with Shaun's family as some of our best experiences in Jamaica.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Green Castle Estate
This is a historic estate that allows you to see alot. There is a 300 yr old windmill, over 2,000 orchids, Orchid Green House, Long Hole & Round Hole water areas, Estate House relaxation, see organic coconut oil being made and the working plantation.
This place is situated in St. Mary, Jamaica and is ideal for a laid back and relaxing day.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
This is a great place to see. Lots of Beaches booze and Babes. The OverProof Rum is excellent with cola. Smooth going down and messes you up. Try the coconut rum. Better rum than Pureto Rico.The women are sexxy and wild.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Adventure Travel
This is a flea market that most of the locals shop at. It is cheaper than the markets at Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, or Negril. However, due to its distance it may not be necessary to go to if you are only going to buy one item. If you are going to due bulk shopping this is the place to be. Christmas time is when they have Grand Market and there will be massive traffic both cars and people. There are also a lot of clubs in the area as well.
This city is located between the tourist cities of Kingston and Ocho Rios. Tour buses that tour the Blue Mountains normally pass through this city, unfortunately few stop there.
The bush is what the country parts are nicknamed. In particular the areas in the mountains. This area is not traversed by many tourist mainly because there are few hotels or bbs in the area. However, it is beautiful and safer than other places in Jamaica. There is always a nice breeze in this area. However, at night sometimes it gets a bit cold and you will need a sweater or jacket.
Fresh Fish at Fisherman's Beach
Just off the cruise ship port and next door to Island Village Mall (away from downtown) in Ocho Rios is Fisherman's Beach, a great place to relax and have lunch or dinner. The fish is fresh-caught from the fisherman who use the beach to launch their boats. The food is good and the prices are reasonable. It's mostly visited by locals and cruise ship employees who want an authentic experience in Jamaica.
Get into the mountains
Too many people see the beaches only. Jamaica has so much more to offer and has an entirely different world from any other island in the area save Cuba. It has green lush meadows, plantations full of coffee trees, farms and wonderful people. If you want to get away from "Dr. Feelgood" and his ilk head for the hills!Related to:
- Family Travel
Circle the island by car
1) Rent a car. There may be cheaper places in the world, but how about an Auto Europe Toyota Yaris 4-door automatic with a/c for a week for USD 350? Just looked it up on onetravel.com - it's a small car (which isnt so bad given the size of the island) but it's a new type so it must have airbags and probably ABS and be in reasonable shape.
2) Take off! Road signs are not everywhere (but then again, everybody speaks English so you shouldnt have too much trouble finding your way).
The parish of Portland and its capital Port Antonio are a beautiful mountainous part of the island, with rafting and a bit of tropical rain forest. Don't expect a very scenic town though - several villages and towns have some nice colonial remnants (e.g. Lucea and Falmouth), but Jamaica is a third world country with the accompanying bad taste, lack of zoning rules enforcement and makeshift housing.
Port Antonio has some nice hotels and is much less touristy than Montego Bay and Ochi (Ocho Rios). Nice beach (entry fee): Frenchman's Cove. Another beautiful spot: Blue Lagoon (even though it's not blue, it's very deep - not the location of the movie with the same name by the way). One last nice beach (entry fee for non-staying guests): that of Dragon Bay hotel
(actually one of the locations of the movie "Cocktail" starring Tom Cruise). Better yet: drive half an hour further to Long Bay - beautiful white sands, nice laid-back rasta atmosphere (but the sea is often quite rough as it's out in the open - the beaches mentioned earlier are completely safe).
Continue through circling clockwise, stop in Kingston, then continue to the Soutch Coast: eat sea food in Alligator Pond, find lodging in Treasure Beach, see the alligators in Black River (little boat ride), check the YS Falls and continue to Negril. Drive back to Montego Bay (if that's where your flight departs) in time to board.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Road Trip
See the Black River differently
Most of u know going to Black River is worth it but most of u will go there with tourists boats with about 20 people on board.
If u'like to experience it on your own, only with ur tender one or family, ask the fishingmen on the other side of the river; sometimes thy're on the road side.
Th'ey'll drive u through the mangrove for about one hour for 15 usd, they'll stop a few feet from the crocodiles and know the river's life better than anyone. They make it a wonderfull and unforgetable trip. Boats are off course smaller but they all have lifevests and u feel even closer to nature.
On the road back ask ur taxi driver to stop on the road side to buy the best shrimps u've ever eaten: the only one PEPPER SHRIMPS They're small shrimps coming only from the Black River and boiled with salt and pepa. Tha's all, but tastefull, delicious, taste like smoked ones and u find them nowhere else. Try them or u'll miss somethingRelated to:
- Sailing and Boating
~ Entertainment Staff at the Starfish Trelawny ~
The Entertainment Staff at the Starfish Trelawny hotel were fantastic. These are the people who wear the Orange Shirts. They made my stay in Jamaica fantastic. The entertainment programmes were great, they had something different on every day and every night and something to suit all age groups.
So this tip has been dedicated to them all for making my stay most enjoyable.
Aldane, Velesha, Mona, Delmore, Huie, Michelle & Christopher thank you so much for being great.
Seafood and Manatees
Alligator Pond is a haven for seafood lovers, and most of the fish consumed in the restaurants in Jamaica are caught here. Every afternoon, droves of anxious consumers stand on the beach, waiting for the fishermen to come in with the day's catch.
Do not expect to see alligators! There are none in Jamaica.
Alligator Hole, a small river with fascinating inhabitants, is found within the Canoe Valley National Nature Preserve, east of Alligator Pond, along a rather revealing drive down a winding coastal road with changing flora.
The Canoe Valley Park spans 3000 acres, and is made up of mangrove swamps, limestone forests and herbaceous forests. The whole valley occupies approximately 5000 acres, and at last count there were 4 amphibian species, 7 bat species, 23 reptile species and 93 avian species in the area.
At Alligator Hole, the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (NRCA) has developed an on-site mini-museum and information centre to introduce visitors to the numerous species of plant and animal life present in the reserve. If you are lucky, you may get a rare glimpse of a Jamaican manatees or "sea cow", which come to drink the fresh water bubbling into the sea from underwater springs.Related to:
This is a wild and weird area of Jamaica. It is mountainous and covered in dense foilage.
There are tours to this area but it is best to go on your own so you can stop when you want to take a picture.
The main places to visit are Maroon town, Seaford town, and Windsor Caves.
The caves are full of bats that come out at sunset.Related to:
- Road Trip
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