What to Do, What to See
What to Do, What to See
With such a lengthy history in this parish, there are some nice historical and cultural sites to look for in addition to the fun things:
- Animal Farm – Located in Copse, this little hands-on zoo spreads over six acres just 20 minutes from Montego Bay. Enjoy the view, discover the bird sanctuary or take the kids to the petting zoo. Relax with the family by having a picnic by the Great River. This "eco-zoo" is the first of its kind in Jamaica. See various species of birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters and turtles. The farm also uses solar energy and can teach visitors about the physics of the system. In addition to the exotic birds, petting zoo, and herb garden, just below the central section of the farm is a river that is very nice for swimming.
- Barracks: This Georgian structure was built in 1843 to house the soldiers stationed at Fort Charlotte. It was built with bricks used as ballast on the many sailing ships that came here from Europe and America;
- Belvedere Estate – In Chester Castle, off the B-7 (near the village of Montpelier). Built in the early 1800s, the Belvedere Estate has a long history of prosperity and destruction. It was one of the area's largest sugar producers for decades but became one of the first casualties of the 1831 Christmas Rebellion; it was burned, leaving ruins that still stand. Belvedere is a family-owned estate set on one thousand acres of land just minutes away from Montego Bay. It was one of the first sugar cane plantations in Jamaica and is still a working estate. The owner has opened it to the public so that all can share the natural beauty of its rivers and waterfalls, its ruins and exotic plants and birds.
- Blenheim. This area is a Jamaican National Monument. It was the birthplace of Jamaican National Hero the Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, a former Prime Minister. The National Trust built a replica of the original from descriptions of the house by Sir Alexander himself. The small house is now a museum and you can download a brochure here;
- Bloody Bay & Beach - Located north of Negril, Bloody Bay gets its colorful name from the old days when whalers would butcher their catches in the secluded bay, turning it red with blood. It was a haven for Caribbean pirates in the 1700s, the most noted probably being Jack Rackham, also known as Calico Jack, and his bloodthirsty female pirates, Anne Bonney and Mary Read. This is a splendid beach with soft, white sand and clear warm water. You will usually find local vendors selling food and drinks on the beach. Catch a sunset from this beautiful spot too! This is where the two RIU resorts in the area are located.
- Booby Cay - Booby Cay is a very small coral island offshore from Rutland Point in Hanover Parish (very near Negril), which was used to depict the South Seas in the Walt Disney movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The “boobies”, as they are called, are a type of tern that breeds and lays eggs here on the cay. Hunting of birds and eggs has, however, diminished the flock. The island has been nearly surrounded with buoys placed by the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society. On its southern edge is a lovely beach. It is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts and boat rides can be easily arranged. There is also some good snorkeling and diving here.
- Fort Charlotte was built in 1761 to defend Lucea harbor which was in danger of attack by French raiders but was never used. It was named after Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, the reigning monarch at the time, and was outfitted with 23 cannons. The fort stands on a peninsula with a wonderful view of the harbor and the bay;
- Great Morass – The Great Morass stretches south 10 miles from Orange Bay in Hanover parish to the South Negril River in Westmoreland and is two miles wide. It is virtually impenetrable and is said to be the remnant of a primeval forest. It is the second largest freshwater wetland in the island and forms a refuge for endangered waterfowl. At its edges, the endemic fish the God-a-me is found. This fish can live out of water in damp leaves and mud for up to a day. The morass is critical to the Negril-area environment. Like a giant sponge, it filters the water flowing down from the interior of the parish. As the tourism sector there expands it places additional demands on the infrastructure and increases the danger to the environment. The Negril Watershed Environmental Protection Area has been created to protect the morass and reefs.
- Hanover Museum, a small museum begun in 1989 which contains artifacts from Jamaica’s indigenous Arawak Indians. They have reproduced a small Arawak village.
- Kenilworth: The 17th century ruins of this sugar factory on an estate formerly called Maggoty Estate are considered the best example of old industrial architecture in the island. A graveyard up a hill contains the grave of an early owner, Thomas Blagrove, whose family also owned Cardiff Hall estate in Saint Ann. The inscription reads in part: "his humane treatment of his servants, in a region not abounding in such examples, induced their cheerful obedience." Today there is a Human Resource and Training Trust (HEART) academy there and they welcome visitors.
- Long Bay Beach Park - Although it is at the far northern tip of Negril’s famous 7-mile Beach (a.k.a. Long Bay Beach), it is actually located in Hanover Parish, just past the Couples resort and just south of Bloody Bay. It is usually far less crowded than the main section of 7-mile Beach. There are picnic tables, changing rooms and beautiful soft white sand. A small admission fee helps defray the costs of upkeep for the facilities. There is some great near-shore snorkeling here with more a bit further. Nudism is permitted here (not uncommon in Negril!).
- Lucea Parish Church which dates to the 1700s. Its real name is the Parish Church of Hanover and may have been erected on the ruins of a Catholic church built during the Spanish occupation of the island. There are baptismal records from 1725 and burial records from 1727. An 80-foot steeple was cracked and then removed after a 1957 earthquake. The church organ dates from 1891 and there are interesting tombstones in the graveyard. It is rumored to have a tunnel leading to the nearby Fort Charlotte;
- Lucea Town Hall and Court House site. Situated in the town center, this Georgian-style building is notable because of its clock tower which was erected in 1817 and is still fully functional. Built by a German resident, it resembles the helmets worn by Prussian Imperial Guards. There is a fountain in front and Sir Alexander Bustamante Square, dedicated by the Queen in 1966.
- Rhodes Hall Plantation Horseback Riding - The 550-acre range here at Green Island covers every type of terrain imaginable from riding on the beach to riding through the jungles of this lush mountainside. The experience is suited to beginners and advanced riders alike. Phone: 876.957.6883 or 876.957.6334.
- Rusea's High School – one of the first four schools to be established in the 1700s. Martin Rusea, a French refugee, willed his estate to establish this school in Hanover. It was opened in 1777. In 1900 the school moved to the Barracks (see above) and enrollment grew from 72 in 1923 to more than 2000 today.
- Tryall Waterwheel. This is the only remaining sugar estate waterwheel and is found on the exclusive 2,200-acre Tryall Golf, Tennis & Beach Club’s property which was once the Tryall Sugar Estate. These waterwheels turned the mills used to crush the juice from sugar canes. It was restored in the late 1950s. Most of the estate was destroyed in the Christmas rebellion of 1831-32. At the entrance to the great house is an old tombstone commemorating a head driver who was shot by rebel slaves while defending his master's property.
- Zipline Adventure Tours - Scared of heights? No problem mon! Enjoy the views of rural Jamaica on the longest zipline in the Caribbean with the best reputation for safety and customer service. Located in the small mountain farming community of Lethe in Hanover Parish, they are about 30 minutes west of Montego Bay. This beautiful 200-acre estate was once a banana plantation which was later replanted with coconut and sugar cane. The Great River meanders through the property. Your adventure begins with an off-road trip through the mountains in a Swiss army vehicle, called a Pinzgauer, to reach the zipline canopy briefing area. After an excellent safety briefing and in-depth instructions, you embark on your adventure across Jamaica’s beautiful wilderness. The guides are knowledgeable, friendly and want you to have fun. This is a safe and exciting experience for all ages. When you finish, you’ll want go again! They will arrange free transportation from most locations in Montego Bay. If you're driving, there are great directions on the website. Phone: 876.940.7394.
There are several other Caribbean vernacular style buildings and great houses which belonged to plantation owners and were built by former slaves and remain in the area. Wander around or ask a local resident to point them out to you. Though these buildings have been declared national heritage sites, they are typically not maintained.
For hotels, inns, guesthouses and B&Bs in Lucea, click here.
To find out more about the history of Hanover Parish and the surrounding area, click here.