Jamaica’s South Coast is A one hour drive from the International Airport at Montego Bay through the beautiful tropical countryside with breathtaking views. It is home to some of its most picturesque vistas, stunning wildlife sightings and inspiring legends.
YS Falls is one of the island’s most magnificent waterfalls. This seven-tiered waterfall, with vast wading pool fed by underground springs offers a diverse selection of activities, from a canopy zip line to refreshing natural spring pools. Black River is also a quintessential stop in the South Coast tour. The second longest river in Jamaica (after the River Minho), it gets its name because of the dark riverbed that consists of decomposing vegetation. Now, it is the launching point for an exciting river tour through Jamaica’s morass landscape. Nearby, Lover’s Leap was named after a slave couple that was so in love they chose to leap to death instead of being separated. This spot is surrounded by breathtaking vistas of Cutlass Bay and the Caribbean Sea. A wooden carving of the lovers stands above the 1,700-foot cliff . Nearby Lover’s Leap Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in the Western Hemisphere.
The beaches are the perfect place to explore the shoreline. Characterised by rocky coves, black-sand beaches and secluded swimming spots, Treasure Beach is just that. This six-mile stretch features both white and black sand (the black is due to traces of iron) and is known for its four bays: Billy’s, Calabash, Fort Charles and Frenchman’s Bay. Fonthill Beach Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is another natural refuge. Though realtively small, it is well organised, offering visitors amenities, including a roped-off swimming area, showers, changing facilities, restrooms, picnic tables and lifeguards. It is part of the larger wildlife sanctuary, which is home to about 200 crocodiles and an array of wading birds. It also serves as the nesting grounds for hawksbill and loggerhead sea turtles and migratory birds.
Retail devotees will find shopping is more relaxed here. Jakes Hotel, Villas & Spa is home to Cascia Tree Gift Shop, which sells crafts, clothing and beachwear; and Jack Sprat Record Shop, where you can find CDs, records, T-shirts and books on everything reggae-related. Nearby, Sophie Eyssautier’s Callaloo Butik infuses its Jamaican-style items with a French twist.
Fishing and farming communities converge on the South Coast, where expanses of farmland stretch towards the horizon. In fact, St. Elizabeth is known as the island’s breadbasket. This abundance gives way to fresh dining options, with the farm-to-table full-moon dinners organised by the team at Jakes Hotel, Villas & Spa. These dinners draw an intimate gathering to Dool’s Farm, where guests are treated to local and organic dishes that rotate according to the seasons. Mar Blue Villa Suites, located in Calabash Bay in Treasure Beach, is another hidden gem whose charismatic owners, Axel and Andrea Wichterich, are inspired daily by local flavours. The tantalising menu includes a roasted guava-glazed pork loin and a Thai-inspired curry goat. Fresh seafood — fish, conch and crab — are abundant here, too. But the South Coast’s most iconic treat is pepper shrimp. Little plastic bags filled with bright red, spicy and salty gems are found throughout the drive through Middle Quarters. These peppa swimps, as they are called, are a South Coast staple. So, too, is Little Ochie, widely known for its fresh fi sh. Visit mid-week, when the crowds are smaller, and watch the fi shermen haul in their catch. Started by Errol “Blackie” Christian, now a host of chefs work to deliver specials like traditional fi sh tea, jerk crab and steamed snapper.