Jamaica is generally seen as a beach destination but beyond the sun, sand and surf, there is a treasure trove of natural attractions to be explored in its reserves, parks and botanical gardens. Most of these can be found in and around the famed north coast of the island. For your convenience, you can choose your accommodation in any of the Jamaican rentals to be found here.
You can start with the Swaby's Swamp Safari in Falmouth. In fact this well preserved Georgian-era town is in the limelight for the opening of a new pier that is expected to give a huge boost to the number of visitors coming here. Coming back to the park, this four-acre mangrove swamp and reserve is home to the Cashoo Ostrich Park which also doubles as a working farm. Apart from the ostriches, the crocodiles too attract a fair share of visitors. Guided tours are available and you can go hiking the beautiful trails or spend time in the fruit orchards.
The most famous park on the island is however the Blue Mountains and John Crow National Park. As is obvious from the name, the park encompasses two ranges of mountains and is also home to the highest peak on the island, the Blue Mountains peak rising to a height of 7402 feet above sea level. The park also houses the largest remaining rainforests on the island. Needless to say hiking and camping are the favorite activities here and catering to the needs of the visitors there are many tour operators offering guided tours. The most sought out tour is the tour that starts from Mavis Bank and passes through elfin woodlands to reach the summit at 7,402 feet. The park is home to 28 species of birds and there are 150 other migratory species that make their stop here.
You can also visit the Montego Bay Marine Park, which is home to several species of stingrays, moray eels, sharks, numerous other types of fish and sharks. You can also admire the coral reef formations and walk through the dense areas of mangrove trees, which serve as home to a wide variety of wildlife. The park also offers excellent scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities.
The Royal Palm reserve also deserves a mention. Set in Great Morass swamplands across 7000 acres, the park supports diverse creatures such as crocodiles and a wide range of birds, including herons and egrets, living amongst the mangroves. Also located here is the Negril Watershed Environmental Protection Area, dedicated to tropical preservation and protection.
For the bird enthusiasts, there can be no other place like the Marshall's Pen, which was a plantation in the 1800's. Today it is a bird sanctuary housing the native birds as well as also the migratory birds that make their stop here.
These are just some of the parks and reserves found on the island but they do support the fact that there is more to the island than its beaches. The High Season in Jamaica is fast approaching so choose your ideal Jamaican accommodation and get set to explore the beautiful and well-preserved natural attractions of the island.