An unexpected bloom of pine trees, plus mahogany and mahoe, grows atop the flinty heads of the Cockpits 3km northwest of Christiana, near Coleyville. This park is laced with hiking trails and is most noteworthy for having one of Jamaica’s longest cave systems.
The main reason for stopping here is to discover this beautiful riverside valley bottom, located below the town at the base of a shimmering waterfall . Two sinkholes full of crystal-clear water offer refreshing dips; collectively they’re known as the Blue Hole.
The extravagant Huntington Summit mansion in May Day, about 3km southeast of the town center, forms the yin to Bloomfield Great House’s yang. The octagonal home is of palatial proportions, with wraparound plate-glass windows and artificial cascades that tumble into a swimming pool, from where waters feed into a pond in the lounge.
This immaculate historic home stands atop a hill at the end of a very winding road southwest of the town center. The two-story structure is built in traditional Caribbean vernacular and gleams today thanks to some fine renovations.
One of the most impressive historical sights in the Central Highlands, Marshall’s Pen has a story that manages to encapsulate the sweep of Jamaican history from Taíno times through colonialism to abolition, independence and the modern day. Also: it’s a great spot to watch birds Taíno people once inhabited this property, and archaeological digs still turn up their artifacts.
Carmen Stephenson is testament to the fact that any individual who cares enough to can carve out their own plot of Eden. Her well-manicured garden has been planned and planted, and pruned and mulched, with much loving care and discipline. Keen amateur gardeners descend year-round to admire the layout or gasp at the collection that includes orchids and ortaniques.
This tiny English-style ‘green’, also known as Mandeville Sq, lends a slight Cotswoldian village feel to the town center (that’s assuming Cotswold greens are dominated by dozens of people hailing taxis, selling produce and hawking Digicel scratch cards). On the north side is the Mandeville Courthouse , the oldest building on the square.
Owned by Patrick Lee and his lovely Chinese-Jamaican family, Apple Valley Park is a little triumph of green sensibility and community tourism. The park grounds consist of an 18th-century home, a manicured lake, an artificial pool and further on, a forest reserve that stretches past the waterfalls and swimming holes of the Black River Gorge.
These caverns may be off-the-beaten-track to most people, but they’re a major way point for some 50,000 bats. Their egress and entrance, a massed cloud of skittering airborne mammalian tooth, fur, flap and claw, is a sight to behold (the less said about the smell of their guano, the better).
Many rate this series of eight cascades , hemmed in by limestone cliffs and surrounded by forest, as being the most beautiful in all of Jamaica. The cascades fall 36m from top to bottom, separated by cool pools perfect for swimming. The falls take their name from the original landowners, ranchers John Yates and Richard Scott.