Cokatiel Drive, Milk River, Manchester Parish, Jamaica
The town of Milk River is associated both with the river of the same name and the mineral spring also found in the area. The river itself is a main source of the water that irrigates the vast agricultural regions of the Clarendon plains, but is largely unnavigable and infested with crocodiles. Milk River Bath contains some of the most radioactive waters in the world. On average, the waters here are a consistent 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, and contain high levels of magnesium, calcium, sulphate and natural chloride. The mineral waters flow directly from a source in a rock and are especially recommended for use by those suffering from rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica and nerve complaints. The waters, however, are so hot and radioactive that patrons are warned to stay in for no more than ten to twenty minutes at a time, and then for no more than three baths per day.
Legend has it that a slave, owned by one Mr Jonathan Ludford of Clarendon, committed an offense for which he was brutally whipped and locked away in a dungeon. Imprisoned and severely wounded, and vowing never to be a slave again, he broke out of his chains and escaped. Days later, the man returned to the estate in full health, healed of the wounds he had received only a few days before. In an effort to convince others to run away with him, he told a tale of a remarkable salty spring in which he had bathed. Everyone who saw him was amazed at his recovery, and soon, word reached the owner of the estate who had ordered him punished. Ludford himself was astounded at the recovery, and promised to grant the slave freedom if he revealed the location of the spring. The slave led a party to the location, and Ludford promptly acquired the spring and the lands around it, and started the Milk River Baths. Upon his death, Ludford bequeathed all the property and land to the government and people of Jamaica to benefit all who needed them. Since the first baths opened in 1794, thousands of people have visited Milk River to heal themselves from a variety of ailments.
Of course, the spa at Milk River is the biggest attraction, but not far away is the famous Farquhar's Beach (commonly called "the beach" by locals). Farquhar's Beach is actually a bay enclosed by a seasonal sand bar that separates the small saline lake from the open sea. Here you can buy lobster, shrimp or fish from the boats that come in intermittently during the day, but the thrilling find in the area are ancient Taino caves. In these caves, pottery shards line the floor and centuries-old paintings on the cave walls add life and create a connection to the people who once inhabited this island. Please do not remove items from or desecrate the caves; they stand on Taino holy ground and are part of Jamaica's delicate archaeological heritage.