16 Photos Showcasing the Beauty of St. Mary, Jamaica

The St. Mary parish is located on Jamaica’s northeastern coast. You may know the parish for Port Maria, Annotto Bay, Oracabessa or Jamaica’s third international airport named for Ian Fleming. St. Mary has a long history and was one of the parishes inhabited by Tainos. Its parish capital, Port Maria, was the second town built by the Spanish in Jamaica. Many pieces of history lie in St. Mary such as the Rio Nuevo Battle Site which was the site of the final battle between the British and Spaniards for control of Jamaica in 1658. In 1760, Tacky led the most serious rebellion against slavery in the Caribbean at that time. You can visit the waterfalls named for Tacky and his fellow warrior Kwame today. After Emancipation, free villages were formed in St. Mary. As the price for sugar dropped, banana cultivation replaced sugarcane in the 1900s which explains why St. Mary is now known as Jamaica’s banana parish. Nonetheless, St. Mary is a very beautiful parish with several attractions and places to visit such as free rivers, beaches, historic forts, churches and even a maroon town (Scott’s Hall). Here are 16 photos to showcase the attractions and things to do in St. Mary.

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Galina Lighthouse, Saint Mary

The only time it’s acceptable to combine business with pleasure is on a business trip, of course. St. Mary is home to several beaches, waterfalls, swimming holes and historic sites. I visited the parish recently for a practical reason, but stopped at the Galina Lighthouse on my way home. Jamaica is home to eleven lighthouses, nine on land and two offshore. These lighthouses are all operational, and maintained by the Port Authority of Jamaica. Lighthouses are erected close to navigable waters in order to guide incoming sea and aircraft. They serve as visual guides based on their physical characteristics in the day, then deliver characteristic flashes of light by night.

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Johnny Falls, Saint Mary

There’s this waterfall hidden in Palmetto Grove, St. Mary called Johnny Falls which I heard of years ago on Facebook. There were no directions on how to find it anywhere, so I added it to my list of Jamaican waterfalls to visit and moved on. Last year my interest in visiting Johnny Falls piqued again with Grove Swimmers, a fearless group of youngsters who perform admirable dives into the river which runs through their district, headed by 17-year-old Nathan Douglas. They have taken to Instagram and YouTube to showcase their talent, and have even been featured in national newspapers. Thus, I happily tagged along with a group of avid explorers and friends to cross this enigmatic and twenty-second Jamaican waterfall from my list with Nathan as my unofficial tour guide.

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James Bond Beach, Saint Mary

I’ve never read nor watched a James Bond book or movie but living in Jamaica, the character is familiar because of locations like this beach immortalizing his name. James Bond Beach is found along Jamaica’s northeastern coast in the quaint scenic town of Oracabessa, St. Mary. This beach is part of the late Ian Fleming’s estate, writer of 007. He lived nearby in Goldeneye, now an exclusive luxury resort, so James Bond Beach was one of his frequented swimming spots. The beach keeps its affiliation to Fleming and his series rather low-key but for true fans, swimming where your idol once did should be thrilling enough.

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Castleton Botanical Gardens, Saint Mary

The Castleton Botanical Gardens sit in a river valley on both sides of the Junction main road which links the Saint Andrew and Saint Mary parishes. It is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the western hemisphere, established in 1862 by English planter Colonel Castle on what was once a sugar plantation. The Bath Botanical Gardens in St. Thomas, Jamaica’s first botanical garden, had suffered repeated flooding by the Sulphur River. This led to much discontent and paved the way for Castleton’s establishment. In 1869, Colonel Castle gifted the gardens to the government of Jamaica. As a result, the 15-acre garden is free and is now a popular picnic spot for Kingstonians wanting a break from the city. The tortuous Wag Water River flows parallel to the gardens, adding to the view and giving one the opportunity to swim in unbridled beauty.

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