- Pelican Bar off Parottee near Treasure Beach - A thatch roofed hut built on a sandbar three quarters of a mile into the sea, the Pelican Bar is a local institution run by Delroy Forbes (a.k.a. Floyd), a fisherman from the remote seaside village of Parottee. At just a 20-minute boat ride with master seaman Bernard, the Pelican Bar is the ultimate spot to hang out with a Red Stripe, go snorkeling or simply take in the stunning 360 degree view; Floyd will also prepare a delicious seafood lunch upon arrangement. Enjoy the passing seaside homes and guesthouses, and miles of sun-baked beachfront during the ride to and from the Pelican Bar. Make a "video visit" to Pelican Bar.
Beaches & Fun Things to Do
Saint Elizabeth is full of gorgeous beaches, waterfalls, eco-tourist destinations, recreation, rum and other fun things to do. Here are some of the hidden gems:
- Alligator Pond - Named for the shape of the Don Figuerero mountain range viewed from the beach, which some say looks like the bumps on an alligator’s back, Alligator Pond is a fishing village on the southwestern coast. The industrious fishermen here catch some of the island’s best fish, along with lobster, conch, oysters, etc. Weather-worn cookshops and bars line the sand's edge but Alligator Pond is probably best known for its very popular Little Ochi Seafood Restaurant. Select your fish or lobster and how you would like it prepared. Then relax at a table in a bungalow and your meal will be brought to your table, freshly cooked. In July they host an annual Seafood Festival – a fun event for seafood lovers!
- Appleton Rum Distillery: Tucked in the Nassau Valley, near Balaclava, between the Nassau Mountains and the Cockpit Country, lies Jamaica's oldest rum distillery on the Appleton Estate. The rums bear the estate's name and have been produced there since 1749. The estate is now owned by J.Wray & Nephew, Jamaica's largest producers of rum. After a tour of their time-honored manufacturing and bottling process, you will be treated to complimentary samples of cane juice, high wine, and all of the flavorful rums they produce. Monday-Saturday, 9am to 4pm.
- Apple Valley Park - Open only by reservation, this family nature park is located in the sleep rural town of Maggotty, near the head of the Black River. The property surrounds an 18th-century great house. Besides the fact that it’s in a valley, it got its name because four varieties of apples are grown here - the othaheite, rose, pine and star apples. It has two small lakes and offers fishing, paddleboat rides, go-karts,and kayaking on the Black River.Much of the park is a forest reserve so the birdwatching is good. There are also changing and rest rooms and picnic areas on the property. They open from 10AM to 5PM only on days on which someone made reservations, so it’s hard to predict; but you can call ahead.
- Bamboo Avenue (a.k.a. Holland Bamboo): This two and a half mile long photogenic archway of bamboos is on the main South Coast Highway between Lacovia and Middle Quarters. It was developed in the 17th century when the local landowners planted bamboo on both sides of the road for shade. One former owner was John Gladstone, father of the famous British Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone. John Gladstone acquired large sugar plantations here and owned many slaves. After emancipation, he obtained indentured laborers from India to work on his plantations in slavery-like conditions. Although battered by hurricanes and the occasional fires the avenue is still attractive. It is maintained by the staff of the Hope Botanical Gardens in Kingston.
- Beaches - The best place to base your visit is east of Black River, where the coastline is scalloped with small bays. The heart of this beach country is the four-mile stretch of fishing coves along Calabash Bay, Frenchman’s Bay, and Billy's Bay, known as Treasure Beach, which is more a region than a village. There are plenty of thatched-roof huts along the shore where you can order an icy Red Stripe and escape the sun under a palm tree. Calabash Bay is one of the more prominent beaches. Situated in a protective cove, it is ideal for swimming, sunning and watching fishing and leisure boats conquer the waves. If you continue east from Calabash Bay, you’ll arrive at the Old Wharf. This is the most private of the four beaches in the area. Bring your sandals; the darker sand here can get quite hot in the mid-day sun.
- Black River Safari Tours – This is another must for eco-tourists. The 44-mile-long Black River is the 2nd longest in Jamaica (Rio Minho is longer) and can be navigated by boat for about 12 miles. It is named for the color of its water that comes from the peat bog runoff. The water on the lower stretch of the Black River is salty, as saltwater comes in and mixes with the freshwater during high tide. These conditions are perfect for mangroves, which have roots that cascade from high branches and reach the water. The result is a curtain of thick roots that divides the river from the swampland beyond the trees. Black River fishermen use wire traps to catch blue Marie crabs. Shrimp are caught using a traditional trap, an African design dating back over 400 years. The bamboo trap, shaped like a large inverted bottle, holds coconut and oranges in the wide end. After two or three days in the river, the trap is checked and the shrimp fall out when the smaller end is twisted (much like pouring liquid from a bottle). If you tour the river with a guide, he or she will probably point out things of interest, such as a 35-year-old termite nest and trees where over 3,000 cattle egrets nest nightly. This is a natural wetland and you may see some of over 100 bird species like jacanas, egrets, whistling-ducks, water hens and seven species of herons and red-footed coots. And the fishing is great with some snook and tarpon weighing in at up to 200 pounds. But the biggest attraction on the Black River is the crocodiles. Once hunted, these crocodiles are now protected, but they remain wary of humans. Having been protected from hunting since the early 1970's, naturalists estimate that there are about three hundred of this species left in this particular swamp. The waters are also dotted with bull rushes, giant ferns (one of 600 species found in this country) and pancake lilies. Take a little "video safari" on the Black River.
- Font Hill Beach Park and Wildlife Sanctuary: The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica owns this 3,150 acre wildlife reserve. There are two miles of coastline with scrubby acacia and logwood thickets covering much of the area and interconnected lagoons and swamps. It is a haven for birds. Eight endemic species can be seen there including the pea dove, the white-bellied dove and the ground dove, the smallest dove in the world. This used to be a cattle ranch. Bird watching is not officially offered but you might be able to arrange it by asking.
- The Great Morass: This is the island's largest wetland with an area of 125 square miles. The lower morass extends from the Black River to Lacovia and the upper morass is above Lacovia. It is a complex eco-system and a preserve for more than 100 bird species. It is also a refuge for about 300 crocodiles (see Black River Rafting). Fed by the Black River, the morass has plenty of crayfish and fish like the God-a-me that can live out of water in mud and moist leaves. Sometimes a manatee can be seen near the river estuary. There is now evidence of pollution and the Black River and Great Morass Environmental Defense Fund is attempting to have the area declared a national park.
- Lover's Leap – East of Treasure Beach off the main road is a cliff plunging about 1,600 feet into the sea, where the Santa Cruz Mountains meet Cutlass Bay below. You can see the curvature of the earth from here. The romantic legend associated with the site is that during the days of slavery two young lovers, Mizzy and Tunkey, used to meet secretly on the adjoining Yardley Chase Plantation. The master, called "Chardley", wanted the female for himself and arranged to have her lover sold to another estate. The pair fled and were chased to the edge of a cliff. Rather than being caught and separated, they jumped hand in hand to their death. The legend is also remembered by a wooden carving of the two lovers at the site. This breathtaking spot is near the lighthouse and there is now a small charge for visiting. If the gate is closed, ask around for the gatekeeper who will admit visitors.
- Middle Quarters Swimp – Middle Quarters is a small village on the A2 highway, eight miles north of Black River. It is known for women higglers who stand on the roadside peddling delicious pepper shrimps – locally called swimp. They’re actually crayfish and are caught in traps made from split bamboo in the African tradition and cooked on roadside grills. Careful, they’re delicious, but spicy!
- Pondside Lake (a.k.a. Wallywash Great Pond): This is the largest freshwater lake in the island situated about six miles from Black River on the road to Mountainside. It is officially known as the Wallywash Great Pond. In the 16th century, several hundred Spanish and African colonizers settled in this area and established cattle ranches, called hatos. One such ranch, the Hato de Pereda, occupied the area from Great Bay to the Rio Caobana, now known as the Black River.The names Pedro Plains and Parottee are both thought to have been derived from Pereda. Laguna Sucio (now Wallywash Great Pond) became the site of a small village of huts scattered among clumps of trees to avoid detection by pirates. The inhabitants settled there because the ranch had no fences so it was easy to catch the cows as they came to drink water. The settlement became known as Parottee. And, as usual, there is a Jamaican legend about this place - the pond was once a district which, like the Yallahs Ponds in St Thomas, mysteriously disappeared, leaving a pond in its place. A man and his dog left the district at night and upon returning to the spot where his house should have been, he stepped into water. The district had sunken while he was away and he was the only one saved!
- YS Falls: These falls are considered by many to be Jamaica's most spectacular waterfalls. There are seven waterfalls separated by pools ideal for swimming fall for120 feet. Limestone cliffs and towering lush vegetation surround the falls. It is on private property but is open to the public for a fee. YS was previously a sugarcane plantation and supplied logwood to Europe for making dye. In 1887 the property was purchased sight unseen by John Browne. His descendants, Tony Browne, and now Tony’s son, Simon, own the property and the estate raises thoroughbred racehorses and Jamaica Red Poll cattle there. The falls opened to the public in 1992 and attendance is monitored so the natural beauty isn’t destroyed. There is a picnic ground and swimming in some of the natural pools. Lifeguards are on duty and new attractions like canopy rides and river tubing are offered. Visit beautiful YS Falls via video.