Millbank Falls, Portland

By some stroke of luck, my favourite parish of Portland in the northeastern side of Jamaica remains lush, green and untouched by mass tourism. Portland is home to the Jamaican Blue and John Crow Mountains which has species not seen in other parts of the island, let alone the entire world. It houses the Windward Maroons, an indigenous group of Jamaicans who are direct descendants of runaway Africans and Amerindians. The Jamaican Maroons are a proud people and have called the rugged inhospitable mountains home for over three centuries. Their governance is largely independent of mainstream Jamaica, they live off of and respect the land, and have managed to preserve their rich heritage and traditions to this day. It’s in this region of Jamaica that Millbank and its majestic waterfalls are located: the Upper Rio Grande Valley which is Windward Maroon country. Here’s how that adventure went.

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Worthy Park Estate Rum Tour, Saint Catherine

Rum is an alcoholic beverage that is intimately intertwined with Caribbean history and culture. That history is cruel and downright abhorrent, where millions of West Africans were taken against their will to the Caribbean to work as slaves on sugar plantations, growing sugarcane from dawn till dusk, reaping, grinding and boiling sugarcane juice to make muscovado sugar and molasses, the latter of which was then fermented to make rum. Our ancestors likely never got to consume much of it, but now rum is the liquor of choice for their descendants and remains a quintessential part of the Caribbean spirit. There are at least three surviving Jamaican sugar estates and distilleries to this day, namely the Appleton, Worthy Park and Hampden Estates. I’ve taken the Appleton Estate Rum Tour twice and had a great time with each visit, therefore I feared another Jamaican rum tour would be repetitive. Well, thankfully that was not the case. In fact, I even preferred this experience. Here’s why.

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Treasure Beach, Saint Elizabeth

There is a little corner of Jamaica which is stuck in an era before the crime, high-end tourism and commercialization. That little corner is known as Treasure Beach. Treasure Beach is a small coastal town which prides itself on community tourism where foreigners co-exist with the locals in harmony. Mom-and-pop shops reign supreme and there are no large all-inclusive resorts. The accommodations are only small boutique hotels, Airbnbs and villas. Crime is almost non-existent in this side of Jamaica. Sounds utopian, doesn’t it? Well, it’s true.

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Decorate Your Home With PhotoWall Wall Prints

A home ought to tell a story of the people who live there, their passions and their history. A home should also inspire its occupants and fuel their creativity. Photowall is an international wall-art company headquartered in Sweden which does just that. Passionate about creating inspiring living spaces with their canvases, posters, framed prints and wallpapers, Photowall was founded in 2006  when brothers Niklas and Charlie Johansson realized that the selection of personalized wall art on the market was relatively limited. With their technical background and a strong interest in design, they decided to try something new by printing wallpaper digitally. Without any previous printing experience, the brothers bought their first digital printing press in 2006, and the rest is history.

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Mayfield Falls, Westmoreland

Mayfield Falls is a delightful series of 21 widely-spaced mini cascades along the Mayfield River, a tributary of the Cabarita River in rural Westmoreland, bordering on the parish of Hanover. In fact, most of the attraction lies in Hanover, but you know how Westmoreland is always stealing Hanover’s attractions, or we pass everywhere off as Negril for the travel brochures. Anyway, I knew about this waterfall long before I ever heard of Benta River Falls, but somehow ended up visiting there first– likely because it was more accessible. Both attractions are located on the same road, but are 20 minutes apart in terms of driving time give or take. I went to Mayfield Falls as a staff trip one month ago. One of my colleagues was recounting a previous staff trip to the falls which they held several years ago and I encouraged her to plan a second trip. The date ended up even clashing with work but.. errr, here’s how the trip went. 🙂

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Little Ochie, Manchester

Jamaica is blessed with a tropical maritime climate, so we enjoy easy year-round access to freshly caught seafood. Several mom-and-pop stalls and restaurants will prepare this seafood to order, but a few stops have become cultural landmarks cemented in the homes and hearts of most Jamaican households and are even marketed to foreigners as must-see stops. Like most Kingstonians, my usual seafood stops are Port Royal, Hellshire or Port Henderson Road due to their closer proximity, but I’ve always heard of Little Ochie Seafood Restaurant in Alligator Pond, South Manchester. Why? Well, they are said to be one of the best and the oldest so Little Ochie has become somewhat of a household name. Thus, I was more than excited to turn what was originally intended to be a Treasure Beach stop into dining at this seafood stalwart and quintessential Jamaican restaurant.

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Noisy River Falls, Manchester

Travel in the time of ‘Rona is such an interesting experience. I visited this beauty tucked away in the north Manchester hillsides in a little district called Oxford last weekend and like nearly all my trips to date, I had a lovely time. It really doesn’t take much to make me happy at all. Anyway, back in primary school (in Kingston at least) they taught us that the parish of Manchester has no rivers, and I’m really appalled at this ‘fact.’ I wonder what they taught the children from the parish of Manchester who grew up next to these rivers. This is the second such ‘fictional‘ river in the parish of Manchester I’m visiting, and I’m sure I’ll get around to its other two rivers eventually.

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Benta River Falls, Westmoreland

Benta River Falls is a family-owned business found in the lush verdant outskirts of Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland. The property features a beautiful river with seven small waterfalls flowing underneath tall bamboo trees and other tropical plants which filter out the piercing afternoon sunlight to cast a cool viridescent glow over everything. What’s lovely about this gem is the owners’ commitment to sustainable tourism. Very little has been done to modify the grounds, and the the building materials for the limited buildings and staircases are eco-friendly.

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Elle’s Favourite 10 Places (Updated)

In November 2018, I published an article featuring my ten favourite places in Jamaica. Back then I hadn’t seen everywhere beautiful Jamaica has to offer, and I still certainly have not. I barely feel as if I’ve scratched the surface, and I feel I’ll be singing the same tune in another year or two when I update this list again. I’ve now published 67 places and events across 11 parishes of Jamaica in three plus years, so you know I have a lot left to see, do and experience and thus this list may be entirely different in 2021 or 2022. Check out the previous list here, and compare it to this new list of my favourite 10 places in Jamaica to see which places didn’t make the cut this time, and which ones remain. Feel free to use this as a travel guide if you’re interested in seeing the best this lovely island of Jamaica has to offer. Spoiler alert: This article is FILLED with waterfalls! Shall we begin? 🙂

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Winnifred Beach, Portland

Winnifred Beach in Portland, Jamaica is a success story of what can happen when a community works together and fights for a worthy cause. Majority of Jamaica’s best coastline is in the hands of private owners, auctioned off and sold by the Jamaican government to large hotels and investors who rather keep the beaches of their beachfront hotels and resorts exclusive for paying guests. This practice prevents citizens from enjoying most of the country’s best beaches. It’s a prevailing notion in Jamaica that only tourists get to see and enjoy Jamaica’s finest attractions since the prices charged for us to visit these places, even with cheaper rates for locals, still make them inaccessible to many. This wasn’t something I thought much of until visiting another Caribbean island last December and realizing that not a single one of their beaches had an admission fee, and for the other attractions which did, both locals and tourists were charged the same. In fact, many Jamaican businesses which cater for tourists often ignore locals when we enter their establishments so it’s an interesting turn of events that many of these places are now trying to attract and capture support from locals since tourist arrivals are at an all-time low for obvious reason.

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