Beaches & Fun Things to Do
Beaches & Fun Things to Do
Saint Catherine has many fine beaches, waterfalls, eco-tourist destinations, recreation and other fun things to do. Here are some of the things to do and hidden gems:
- Caymanas Golf & Country Club - Only 6 miles from downtown Kingston is Caymanas' 72-par championship course. The18 hole golf course has been operating since the mid-1950s and is considered one of Jamaica's favorites. It's especially noted for its elevated tees and challenging 12th hole, which is 50 feet above a pencil-thin fairway, framed by thick foliage and limestone rock. Call ahead to reserve tee times – 876. 746.9772. Howard Watson, a well-known Canadian golf architect, designed this course. He integrated the course's hilly surroundings in his plan, and he used the area's plant life to form a tropical commons around the course. These create natural obstacles for more tricky play with plenty of upshots.
- Caymanas Park Race Track is Jamaica's most famous race track. The Park occupies 196 lush tropical acres within the community of Portmore and is about a 15 minute drive from Kingston. It was established in 1904 and has had several different owners/operators over the years. The Blue Mountains provide a picturesque backdrop. Racing begins at noon and is conducted on Saturdays, most Wednesdays and most public holidays. Visit their website for the schedule.
- Fort Clarence Beach - Quieter than Hellshire (or Fisherman’s) Beach about 5 miles away, Fort Clarence Beach in Portmore is one of the nicest in the greater Kingston area. It is named for a small fort built nearby to defend the island during the 1700s. The beach is clean and there are changing rooms, picnic grounds, lifeguards and security. You will also find snack shacks where you can try the delicious fry fish and bammy or festival.
- Guardsman Serenity Park - In Spring Village (a.k.a. Pot House Pen), this sanctuary provides good fishing facilities, an opportunity to enjoy beautiful local greenery and wildlife in a natural setting. Any fish you catch can be given to local staff to be cooked (steamed, jerked or fried) for you to eat on the premises. There are also nature trails and horseback riding activities. The facilities are open on most public holidays.
- Hellshire Beach – There are several beaches in the Hellshire area of Saint Catherine, the biggest and busiest being Fisherman's Beach. When you hear Jamaicans talking about "Hellshire Beach", they will almost certainly be referring to Fisherman's beach. The beach is within easy reach of Kingston. Take the road south of Portmore towards Hellshire Hills, turn left at the second roundabout. It's a great place to soak up the sun, swim and snorkel. This is also the spot for local jams on the weekends. Hellshire gets very busy at weekends with sunbathers and water-lovers from nearby Kingston and Portmore. Hellshire does not draw many tourists so it has a more authentic Jamaican atmosphere. Fisherman's Beach is where the real action is, with funky fisherman's stalls. They cook up some delicious fish, but ask the price before you order so you don’t get caught off guard by a hefty bill!
- Hellshire Hills – Drive about 20 minutes from Kingston to these hills for a lovely day trip. The journey takes you past the mouth of the Rio Cobre at Passage Fort, the site where the British soldiers landed prior to capturing the island from the Spanish in 1655. On the left is a brick building which houses the island's only "female prison", Fort Augusta. This mostly untouched area has white sand beaches, limestone caves, and cactus. The wilder regions of the hills are inhabited by wildlife, such as the Jamaican Iguana (once thought to be extinct) and the endangered Jamaican Coney. This dry limestone forest is also home to many other endangered species and migrant birds. Faint trails criss-cross the rugged terrain, which is perfect for adventure hiking.
- Mountain River Cave: This site is a Jamaican National Monument. The road from Spanish Town to Guanaboa Vale leads to Mountain River Cave. It is fairly accessible and it is reached via St. Johns Road which leads to Browns Hall. On reaching Cudjoe Hill there is a sign, placed by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust which indicates that Mountain River Cave is nearby. However, before you begin the journey to the cave it is advised that you contact the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) at 922-1287/8 who will provide a guided tour. Guides will lead you for a mile to the entrance protected by a gate. Inside the relatively small cave are about 200 Arawak pictographs painted in black on the walls and ceiling. There are frogs, turtles, human forms and abstract designs, many of which date back 1,300 years. There are a few petroglyphs as well. Bring sturdy walking shoes.
- Two Sisters Cave is located in the Hellshire Hills of St. Catherine. From the Hellshire roundabout, continue left up and over the hill until you come to a rather faded sign. The entrance to the cave is in semi-desert surroundings overlooking Kingston harbor. Each cave has a large sink hole, which contains fresh water. It is possible that these reservoirs served as sources of fresh water for the Taino Indians. This natural cavern and the tunnel beneath are interconnected with many other caverns and tunnels over this whole limestone area which extends for miles in all directions. The cave contains a petroglyph carving of a face which is about seven hundred years old and some carvings and Taino pictographs. Two Sisters Cave was named after the legend of two slave sisters who escaped from a sugar plantation and headed for the hills. They ended up in Hellshire and discovered the two caves. To save themselves from being found and returned to their master, they joined hands, jumped into the black water of the cave, and were never seen again. But many visitors of the caves claim that the spirits of the sisters still roam the caves at night.
For Saint Catherine's cultural and historical building and sites, click here.