The Great Houses of Jamaica

April 24, 2014 No Comments
Great houses of Jamaica

There are several points of interest between Falmouth and Montego Bay, including the Greenwood Great House, one of the finest antique museums in the Caribbean. Built by the Barrett family in 1800, the house still has most of its original furnishings, as well as the family’s library of rare books, paintings, and musical instruments.

Good Hope Great House

Good Hope Great House

Nearby is Good Hope Estate, which was once one of the most sought-after great houses on Jamaica. The estate, circa 1755, and 9,000-acre grounds were owned by John Tharp, the richest planter on Jamaica during the early 1800s. Tours are offered of the restored mansion, which is furnished with period antiques and artwork. On the grounds, which today span 2,000 acres, are several historic buildings and a water wheel and kiln. Stop by the pottery house to see the work of Good Hope’s resident potter, then head to the Trading House to purchase one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Take a peaceful horse-and-buggy ride for a leisurely tour of the property, or journey deeper into the countryside past ruins, orange groves, and the Martha Brae River. Currently, the Good Hope Estate property is home base for Chukka Adventure Tours, which operates a number of the island’s top tours.

Chukka Time Traveler Zip Line

Chukka Time Traveler Zip Line

The Good Hope Great House is also home to the Chukka Time Traveler Zip Line. Soar through the canopy using an intricate system of harnesses, pulleys, and carabiners while gazing at the surrounding rainforest before arriving at the next cliffside platform, some 45 feet above the ground. A series of obstacles ranging from 105 to 660 feet in length spreads through the Laughlands River Gorge, a giant valley carved from the surrounding mountain by ancient waters.

The nearby Rose Hall Great House is in the heart of Montego Bay’s surrounding golf country. The three-story Georgian-style great house is the setting of a dramatic tale whose plot includes unrequited love, black magic, revenge, and the ghost of a beautiful but murderous heroine. Memories of the house’s former mistress, Annie Palmer (aka the “White Witch”), are kept alive. Sightings of her ghost are frequently reported, and her story remains forever an enigma with tremendous appeal to feature-film and television crews. In the gift shop, a large collection of photographs represents ghostly sightings by modern-day visitors. The estate is just one of many attractions in the 7,000-acre resort community.

Rose Hall Great House

Rose Hall Great House

In the rolling hills above Rose Hall, the White Witch Golf Course boasts colorful, mountainous terrain, cool breezes, and stunning views of the Caribbean. The new Shoppes at Rose Hall feature a number of stores backed by the cruise line guarantee, making this stop a go-to destination for golfers and shoppers alike.

White Witch is next door to the prestigious Cinnamon Hill Golf Course. Designed by Robert von Hagge and Rock Baril, this 6,828-yard, par-72 course follows the coastline. Towering aqueducts, venerable grave sites, and beachfront holes make for a unique golf setting. Buffeted by trade winds, the front nine holes are dominated by open fairways, while the back nine turn away from the sea and move into the winding hills.

As the course ascends into the hills, caddies won’t be shy about acting as unofficial tour guides, bringing the site’s vibrant history to life. They’ll point out landmarks like the family burial plot of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the longtime home of Johnny Cash and June Carter. A famous scene from the James Bond movie Live and Let Die was filmed at the beautiful waterfall behind the 15th hole.

Rose Hall also boasts its own zip-line canopy tour. Seven challenging traverses are coupled with intermittent nature walks where guests learn about the diversity of Jamaica’s landscape and history. The tour’s platforms are mounted in old cottonwood trees, set amid a forest where ackee, breadfruit, pear, and guinep trees thrive.

For a five-star experience, indulge in a day at Ibeostar Rose Hall Beach, the region’s newest luxury hotel property. Excursions to the all-inclusive resort include access to an all-you-can-eat buffet, complimentary beverages, and use of water-sports equipment.

If there’s one thing that all Jamaicans love, it’s likkle bickle, a local term for Jamaican food. The Jamaican technique of jerking is thought to have originated with the Maroons, the descendants of 17th-century slaves who found refuge in the central mountains. For meat to be jerked, it must first be marinated in a spicy mixture of peppers, pimento seeds, scallions, thyme, and nutmeg, then cooked over an outdoor pit lined with pimento wood. The low heat allows the meat to cook slowly, retaining its natural juices while becoming infused with the flavor of the wood.


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Step inside the colonial-era great house owned by Jamaica’s largest plantation owner in the 1700s. See the hummingbird garden and explore the sprawling 2,000-acre grounds.

Enter the passageways of the Green Grotto Caves, walk past light holes and rock formations. For good luck, toss a coin into the mythical Wishing Well, head to Dunn’s River Falls to climb the natural terraces—an unforgettable journey beneath the shimmering waterfall.

Interact with marine mammals, stingrays, birds, iguanas, and snakes, and watch a shark show. Sunbathe, go glass-bottom kayaking or snorkeling, brave a towering waterslide, or shop for souvenirs.

See Falmouth and Montego Bay on a guided scenic drive. Then enjoy two hours of leisure time shopping, eating, and swimming at Mo’ Bay’s hip strip.

Ride a bamboo raft down the Martha Brae River, then visit Miss Martha’s Medicinal Herb Garden.

Handpick local ingredients with a Celebrity Cruises chef at a former plantation and mini-market. Sample meats at the Walkerswood Jerk Hut. Watch a cooking demo at the Great House. Join the chef at dinnertime for a galley tour, followed by dinner inspired by your island discoveries.


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