Heading For The Waters: South Coast, Jamaica

12th Jun 2014
Photo of Heading For The Waters: South Coast, Jamaica 1/7 by Kristi Keller
Black River
Photo of Heading For The Waters: South Coast, Jamaica 2/7 by Kristi Keller
Fishing in Bluefeilds.
Photo of Heading For The Waters: South Coast, Jamaica 3/7 by Kristi Keller
Font Hill Beach Park
Photo of Heading For The Waters: South Coast, Jamaica 4/7 by Kristi Keller
Golden Lagoon Guest House
Photo of Heading For The Waters: South Coast, Jamaica 5/7 by Kristi Keller
Organ at St. John Anglican Church
Photo of Heading For The Waters: South Coast, Jamaica 6/7 by Kristi Keller
Paradise Ocean View Hotel
Photo of Heading For The Waters: South Coast, Jamaica 7/7 by Kristi Keller
Pelican Bar

As if I haven’t discovered enough magical moments in Jamaica, I have now found my lost inner girl because of this motorbike tour of the south coast.

Everything I do on the island seems to be a fortuitous random happening and had I not jumped into this guy’s taxi on a day when I didn’t even need a taxi I never would have had this opportunity.  After meeting the taxi driver Shelley, we became fast friends due to his fun and lively personality so I didn’t even have to think twice when he suggested a motorbike ride to Treasure Beach.  I DEFINITELY wanted to do it!

I drove to his house in the countryside and was greeted by him and his mother sitting on their veranda, their dog and their pig.  So awesome.  After a short meet and greet with his sweet mom he pulled out his motorbike and within minutes we were on the open road! What I thought would be a casual, scenic bike ride from one spot to another turned into a day that set my soul free. 

First of all I have to say this tour is not at all overrated if you love the beauty of Jamaica. It may be slightly overrated if you want to see herds (or whatever they call a lot of crocodiles) frolicking in the water. I saw 3 or 4 in my hour long tour and that was satisfactory for me because I was completely taken by the excursion itself. The Black River crocodile tour was on my list of things to accomplish in my 5 days on the south coast. I knew where the river was but had no idea where to catch a boat so I drove into the town and pulled in where I saw a bunch of fishermen and asked. One man pointed to a small fishing boat with two tourists already inside and said I should go ask if I can join that boat, so I did! The couple in the boat didn’t mind at all that I hitched a ride with them. The funniest part of jumping in their boat was that they are also Canadian – from Manitoba. We’re practically neighbors back home. That was cool.
Photo of Black River, Saint Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
Lovers Leap on Jamaica’s south coast is one of those natural wonders kind of like Niagara Falls – you can’t even understand it’s magnitude until you’ve been there and seen it. Pictures and video do it NO justice whatsoever. I had to go discover it for myself. The drive to Lovers Leap was beautiful and easy. Only a few rough patches on the road and we reached in no time. I was unprepared for the fact that it’s a tourist attraction and there was an admission fee. I thought it would just be a big hillside that I could walk up to the edge and look over. But there is a front gate monitored by security who collects $350 jmd per person to enter. Upon entering you will be offered a “tour guide” – for what purpose, I don’t know because it’s obvious once you enter where you’re supposed to go…..to the cliff’s edge. All in all there wasn’t much to do up here except take in the breathtaking view and imagine how awful it would be if there were no barricades! There is what looks like it used to be a restaurant/bar that seems to only be a bar now. You’ll notice on the first image in the video that the words “restaurant” and “grill” are now painted over so I guess they no longer exist. There is only a bar up here at this time.
Photo of Lovers Leap, Saint Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
These boat captains will pick you up in the boat at any hotel along the coast and take you away to the bar in the sea! Once you arrive the captains are as patient as you want them to be. My guys just hung out laying on the boardwalk while I had my fun, which consisted of sitting on the boardwalk sipping on a rum and Coke in the strong ocean breeze. When I floated up to the bar there were lots of other tourists there – one of my pet peeves. But they soon left and I was alone with the two Italian ladies from my last blog post. We prearranged meeting here. At Pelican Bar there really is a bar – drinks are typical tourist prices; $500 jmd for a rum and Coke so I only had one. I can’t say the bar is exciting but it was definitely ambient and relaxing, I LOVED it. I would do it again and again just for the boat ride, scenery and smell of the ocean air. One thing to note about Pelican Bar – there is obviously no restroom so you must either have a bladder of steel or be okay with standing in the seawater to relieve yourself. True story.
Photo of Pelican Bar, Saint Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
This property only has 4 guest cottages – all are identical except one has AC and the others have fans. Each cottage is a little round hut suitable for a single person or a couple and are all just steps away from the beach. I fell asleep listening to the ocean every night. All rooms have queen beds, cable TV, plenty of screened windows and tons of charm. Each bathroom has a stand up shower, hot water with great water pressure and nice, soft towels. There are also cute little tables and chairs in each room with a lantern.Paradise Ocean View is located about 10 minutes drive from Black River, St Elizabeth on the beach side of Craine Road – immediately after the roundabout. The property is gated with 24 hour security on duty and plenty of parking inside the gates. Once you park and walk in you will come upon the restaurant and cocktail bar with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. The owners told me they host a lot of large tour groups for lunches – up to 50 people! This surprised me because there are only four guest cottages and I realize accommodation isn’t their only business. Very smart! The restaurant and bar menu is extensive compared to many of the places I dined while on the south coast. Their drink menu alone was awesome! Not just your average rum bar – they can whip up whatever cocktail you’re craving. And the food prices were very reasonable for a hotel.
Photo of Paradise Ocean View, Black River, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
This was my first time to the south coast of Jamaica and there wasn’t much on the internet when looking for a place to stay so I decided to just wing it and see what I would find when I got there. I have one friend who lives in Black River so I linked with him and he drove with me up and down Crane Road just outside the town and showed me where all the guest houses are. I ultimately settled on one that looked great from the road – Golden Lagoon – and we went inside to talk to the manager. There are 17 rooms on the property and I chose the one closest to where I could park my car, right inside the gate. After I settled in my friend left me and I was free to start exploring Black River. The room was comfortable in the first hours. I had a king size bed, a full bathroom with a stand-up shower, cable TV and a fan. The room was basic, not fancy, but comfortable and the price was right….for what I thought I had. They were asking $4500 jmd per night and I negotiated him down a little on a 5-night stay
Photo of Golden Lagoon Guest House, Black River, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
Font Hill beach was a little less than I expected, beach-wise but more than I expected ambiance-wise. The place is quite lacking in actual beach and there’s only a small sandy patch among lots of rocks but the best part about it is that it’s very quiet. The day I went it was just myself and one Jamaican family. There is no one selling anything, no one to bother you at all. Entering the park I thought this would be a great spot for big parties but the bartender told me they don’t really do parties down here. They just have all this space for nothing it seems. Very well kept park space, basketball hoops, several covered picnic tables, a great bar and the best sound system blaring smooth R&B and reggae towards the water.
Photo of Fort Hill Beach Park, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
Ever since May of 2003 when I was practically a Jamaica virgin I’ve been wanting to find Bamboo avenue again and drive through it, only this time I wanted to pay attention! That trip years ago was only my second time in Jamaica and I was a passenger and had no idea where in the world I was! Now fast forward to my 14th trip and I practically replicated the exact road trip from 2003 – from Negril all along the south coast through St Elizabeth and up the mountain into Mandeville. Only this time I was driving and paid much more attention! I was also with 3 other Canadian girls on this last trip and one of them was on a mission. She must see Bamboo avenue, no questions!! It was really funny because I didn’t know exactly where it was so we asked a lot of people and most people didn’t have a clue! I was shocked that even locals who lived nearby didn’t know what we were talking about. Anyway we did find it just by following the road to Mandeville and it was just as lovely to drive through as I remembered! However I don’t think I recommend filming WHILE driving! There are just too many potholes and I had to edit out the parts of this video where I failed to dodge them! Every time we hit one you could hear the four of us laughing in the background
Photo of Bamboo Avenue, Middle Quarters, Saint Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
Our stop in Bluefields on the south coast of Jamaica was spontaneous. This was part of our 2-day, 9-parish trek with no agenda. Actually our only agenda this day was to tour the Appleton estate and rum factory but because of all these little gorgeous places to stop we never did make to Appleton! Our stop in Bluefields lasted only about half an hour and it’s a part of the island I’ve never even touched before. It was enough for me to want to go back and stay for a while and cover more of the area. I did notice some absolutely beautiful big homes in this area. I’ve heard about the south coast and have been to the rich town of Whitehouse but never spent any time there. It’s definitely on my list.
Photo of Bluefields, Westmoreland Parish, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
One of my most inspiring days spent in Black River was this day, for so many reasons. I was so blessed to have met Allison Morris of Real Jamaica Vacations and she’s one very inspiring lady. We had been in contact via email a few weeks before my visit to the south coast and she offered to take me on her historical walking tour of Black River, which I gladly accepted because I LOVE Jamaican history! You don’t have to be a church organ enthusiast to appreciate this magnificent piece of history! The reason Allison inspires me so much is because she comes from a long generational line of family who is from Black River in St Elizabeth, and is single-handedly trying to keep the rich history of this whole town alive by offering her Way Back When historical tour. She has spent a lot of years digging deep for every shred of historical information one can obtain about this town, which is way more than you might think.
Photo of St. John's Anglican Church, Black River, Jamaica by Kristi Keller