There is a sight to see for every kind of traveler in Jamaica, including the nature lover. Here the grass is always greener as the perfect year round climate tends to every tree, garden and forest. Set amidst lush landscapes are several hotels, from resorts to boutique, which cater to the needs of the environmentally conscious traveler. You won’t have to go far to experience the luxuries nature has to offer.
Jamaica’s six resort areas offer a variety of accommodation and attractions, but Port Antonio and the South Coast are a “must visit” for an eco-friendly vacation. Port Antonio is the capital of Portland, the green parish of Jamaica, known for its abundance of foliage, forests and flora. Portland spreads from the coral reefed east coast up to the highest point of the country, Blue Mountain Peak. Surfing, bird watching, nature trails and mountain climbing are just some of the adventures you can embark on, once settled in at the vacation location of your choice.
While there are several hotels in Port Antonio the most common type of accommodation are villas or guest houses. Consider the Fern Hill Club Hotel where a panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea below will lure you in to experience tranquility Port Antonio style. Every budget can be accommodated as this hotel offers villas, economy rooms and suites. Take a stroll through the grove of fruit trees located on the property or experience Jamaica’s signature natural beauty at the nearby San San beach. For more serene adventures visit Frenchman’s Cove, where a fresh water stream runs through a 45 acre estate to flow seamlessly into a sheltered cove. The villas and guest house at Frenchman’s Cove allow you to be just walking distance away from the property’s white sand beach, one of the world’s top five beaches according to Conde Nast Magazine.
Just a stone’s throw away from Frenchman’s Cove is Geejam Hotel, a boutique hotel in the heart of Portland’s dense foliage. At Geejam nothing comes between you and nature with the property extending from the base of the John Crow/Blue Mountain range right to the edge of the Caribbean Sea. A location frequented by the stars, Geejam Hotel’s deluxe cabin, suite and villa infuse luxury into pure paradise. Goblin Hill Villas is also a Portland “must-see” and a great location for families wishing to experience the beauty of nature. These three bedroom villas come equipped with kitchen, living and dining room and terrace to look out on the bay below.
Named by Virgin Holiday’s Responsible Tourism Awards as the 2010 Best Accommodation for the Environment, Mockingbird Hill Hotel is setting the standard for eco-friendly tourism in Jamaica. ‘Guiltless indulgence’ is part of the culture at Mockingbird Hill, where the operations are consistently environmentally friendly. The hotel is mainly powered by solar energy and the natural air conditioning is courtesy of the nearby Blue Mountains. The ingredients for the hotel’s scrumptious meals are also organically grown using no pesticides or insecticides.
Also organic in its cuisine is Bay View Villas in Portland. This property offers varying sized villas on a 30 acre estate featuring natural amenities. You’ll be able to savour indigenous Jamaican cuisine complimented by the organic ingredients grown right on the property.
Exciting eco-tours are a staple of this resort area. Go scuba diving in the twin harbours or, rafting down the Rio Grande River on an authentic bamboo raft.
There is a waterfall to suit every kind of tourist in Port Antonio, but all are perfect for the traveler looking for unspoiled nature. Swim around in the cool natural pools at Reach Falls or visit McKenzie Falls - a secluded wonder, ideal for the couple wanting a private swim. Venture to Somerset Falls, a large property with cottages and lively entertainment spaces, great for large groups or families. There you can indulge in seafood at the Little Portie restaurant or take a quick boat ride underneath a hidden waterfall.
Travel southwest to discover one of the island’s ecological habitats: the South Coast. Natural beauty is coupled with ecological diversity in the South Coast, where you can find alligators lounging around the Black River, which actually isn’t black at all. Thick with darkly coloured vegetation, the river bed of the Black River gives it its name, appearing black from the surface. The marsh-like environment is home to exotic flora and fauna, some indigenous to Jamaica.
Here on the South Coast, you will find quaint villas and guest houses suitable for romantic or family vacations. The Ashton Great House just outside St. Elizabeth is a 22-room guest house sitting atop a hill that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. This 200 acre property dates back 300 years, the guest house previously serving as a great house. A trip to the South Coast would not be complete without a stay at Jake’s, the famous beachside boutique hotel that serves up simplistic style. Hailed by Vogue as “the chicest shack in the Caribbean” Jake’s is located at Treasure Beach. The rooms, cottages and villas at Jake’s are decorated with influences from as far as Asia. The delectable cuisine is all natural and can be had at Farm Dinners; an organic array of produce from local farmers and fishermen prepared on site at a local farm. Venture off the property and visit Alligator Pond where you may be able to glimpse one of the two shy manatees that live in the area. Explore Bubbling Spring – a small nook where healing waters bubble from the river bed or the famous Milk River Bath, a hot spring of some of the world’s most radioactive water known to heal ailments and illnesses. The calcium, magnesium, sulphate and natural chloride at Milk River are purported to relieve several ailments and any lingering stress. We doubt there will be any of the latter however, after such a relaxing stay amidst Jamaica’s natural beauty.