We last parted at Appleton Estate where we were wowed with a wonderful tour and great Jamaican rum tastings. It’s time to hit the road again and take a leisurely drive toward some historical and culinary experiences, mixed in with a little adventure to make for some unforgettable memories.
Yes, we are still on Jamaica’s Southern Coast and are about to make our way towards the town of Black River, the capital of the parish, St. Elizabeth. Once a major seaport and commercial center, Black River is one of the oldest towns in the island and takes pride in being the first place in Jamaica to receive electricity, even before New York City. It is also one of the first to have telephones. The first car to arrive in Jamaica came to Black River. The town, in 1999 was designated a Protected National Heritage District.
The buildings reflect the different periods in the history of the town’s development. While predominantly Georgian and Victorian, several buildings also reflect British Colonial, Jamaican Georgian and Jamaican Vernacular architectural styles.Today’s itinerary will first take us on a thirty minute walking tour of this historic town, starting with the Invercauld Great House, built in 1894. A typical 19th century Georgian style structure, the building has been renovated and converted to a 52 room guesthouse and restaurant. Then, the Courthouse, also Georgian with two gigantic ficus trees on the compound, designated as national monuments.
Magdala House is Victorian architecture adapted to a tropical climate. The next stop includes several Restored Houses; buildings that may have dated back from the 19th century. The rest of the tour takes in the Waterloo Guest House, St. Elizabeth Parish Church and The Hendricks & Co. Building and ends with my favorite South Coast attraction – the Black River Safari. www.visitjamaica.com/black-river-heritage-walking-tour.
Jamaica has over 120 rivers and Black River is home to the island’s second longest river of the same name. The river is a habitat for a variety of wildlife species. With its fair share of the over 290 species of birds found on island as well as various species of fishes, crabs, frogs, it is a haven for nature lovers, fishing aficionados and river boat tours.
The town is actually named after the river, which is said to have gotten its name due to its dark color, caused by the large deposits of peat under the water. There are several attractions companies that offer this one and a half hour, six-mile adventure through the river’s lower morass, the island’s largest wetland area.
The Black River Safari cruise is a great way to get up close and personal with Mother Nature and learn about the area’s ecology, including three species of mangrove. History and nature buffs will love learning about the history and ecology of the area from our very knowledgeable tour guide. For me the highlight of this tour is viewing (from afar) the magnificent crocodiles. Personally, I will leave the petting of these “friendly creatures” to our competent tour guides!
And now, on to my favorite pastime – food. Yes, I am an unrepentant Foodie. The South Coast, not unlike the rest of the island, permeates with the aroma of deliciously authentic Jamaican cuisine. My pick of local eateries here are Tasty Food or the restaurant at the Waterloo Guest House, where mouthwatering local dishes like oxtail, curried goat and rice and peas are served up in portions to satisfy, yes, even me!
If you are in the mood for seafood, we could venture a little further south, across the Black River Bridge to Cloggy’s on the Beach or Las Vegas Cafe for some authentic Jamaican seafood. Once we cross the bridge, we are headed towards Treasure Beach. But that, my friends, is an adventure for another day.