What to Do: Birding at Bluefields, Jamaica

Jamaica is well known to the world as the land of rum, reggae and white sand beaches, but there is a side to Jamaica lesser traveled and equally alluring. A walk through the island’s interior opens you up to a wonderland of beautiful flora and fauna. A hike through the Bluefields Mountains on the South Coast affords sightseers spectacular views of Bluefields Bay as well as an opportunity to take in some of Jamaica’s 280-plus species of birds who call the island home, including 28 that are found only on Jamaica.

The thickly forested Bluefields Mountains rise from the sea to nearly 2,600ft and are listed by BirdLife International as one of Jamaica’s globally Important Bird Areas (IBA). Among the plant species of the Bluefields Mountains is the Chusquea abietifolia, a bamboo that flowers only once every 33 years and is due for its next bloom in 2017. Jamaica’s other unique residents include the Jamaican Tody, a bird that nests in the ground instead of in trees, varieties of rare yellow snakes and the Giant Swallowtail butterfly, which has a wingspan of up to six inches and is thought to be the largest butterfly in the western hemisphere.

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