Where to Visit: The South Coast: Fonthill Beach Park & Wildlife Sanctuary

One of the more popular spots for Jamaicans on the lesser traveled South Coast the picturesque Fonthill Beach Park is known for its pristine golden sands, turquoise waters, great spearfishing and a lovely nearby reef which sees many locals and tourists alike donning their snorkeling gear to observe the colourful tropical fish and a wide variety of coral. Located just 15 minutes outside of Black River, close to the border of St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland this place is ideal for large family outings as well as private picnics.

Situated within a nature reserve on the Fonthill property owned by the Petroleum Company of Jamaica, the area is comprised of two golden-sand beaches (connected by a trail), fringed by a reef offering great snorkeling and bathing. Dolphins come into the cove, as do turtles for nesting season. Fonthill also operates a guest house and comes complete with a shower and changeroom facilities, a small cafe and bar, a grassed area with picnic tables under gazebos, lifeguards and horseback riding tours are also available near the property. The little beach at Fonthill is a delight and can be followed all the way to Luana Point where a lone mangrove tree defines the western edge of the morass that stretches eastward to Longacre Point.

The property is also home to The Fonthill Wildlife Sanctuary a reserve with untarnished natural beauty which includes a coastal mangrove that protects the locally endangered American crocodile. The sanctuary, which you can only visit accompanied by a guide has a number of special features. Scrubby acacia, logwood thickets and, closer to the shore, a maze of connected lagoons and swamps with a population of a couple of hundred crocodiles included. The birding is fabulous, highlighted by a flock of bald plate pigeons as well as assorted black-billed whistling ducks, jacanas, herons and pelicans. They are best viewed early in the morning as they feed on the ripened pimento berries and sea grapes that grow along the narrow, golden sand beach. In the evening, they roost in the nearby mangrove trees in such great numbers that the trees become a mass of white. If you’re looking for fun and frolicking on the beach with a little less of the crowds you’ll find on Jamaica’s more popular North Coast a trip to Fonthill is worth your while. With a wildlife preserve to boot there are even more reasons to visit.

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