Holywell Recreation Area

Outdoors in Newcastle

Spanning Hardwar Gap, this area protects 120 hectares of remnant woodland, lush with dozens of fern species, epiphytes, impatiens, violets, nasturtiums, wild strawberries and raspberries. The mist-shrouded, uppermost slopes are densely forested with rare primary montane forest, dominated by pine trees. The birdwatching is fabulous.

The staffed ranger station is a short distance beyond the entrance. The orientation center hosts occasional live entertainment such as traditional music and dance, plus outdoor games, storytelling and a treasure hunt for the kids; contact the Jamaica Conservation & Development Trust for information.

Well-maintained, easy hiking trails lead off in all directions through the ferny dells, cloud forest and elfin woodland. The 2.4km Oatley Mountain Trail, best seen with a guide (US$20) who can point out the different flora, leads to a river good for bathing. The 2km Waterfall Trail leads down along a stream to the Cascade Waterfalls – more trickle than cascade, due to recent landslides.