While on a Caribbean cruise, you’re likely to see an endless number of beaches. But what if you find yourself getting tired of being a beach bum? While Jamaica is known for its beautiful beaches and scenic landscape, it is also packed with history. Jamaica was once a British colony, and slaves worked on sugar cane plantations. Some of these plantations and Great Houses (the main houses on the plantations) still exist and are open to the public. So if you’re stopping in here and want to know a little bit more about its colonial past, our best Jamaica travel tip is to take a tour of these stunning plantations.
Great Houses of Jamaica
The Rose Hall Plantation is by far Jamaica’s most popular and grandest Great Houses. Located in Montego Bay, this massive 6,600-acre plantation is best known for the frightening legend surrounding it. If you take the Haunted Night Tour, you’ll be told the story of Annie Palmer, or the “White Witch.” She was Rose Hall’s mistress in the 18th century who was supposedly cursed by the slaves, and ended up torturing slaves and murdering all three of her husbands.
Afraid of being haunted by the ghost of Annie Palmer or just don’t believe in legends? That’s ok, because Rose Hall also offers a Great House and Gardens tour, where you’ll still hear the legend of the White Witch, but you’ll also get to learn about the wealthy Europeans who called Jamaica home in the 18th century and explore the stunning tropical gardens. Country music fans will be delighted to know that Cinnamon Hill Great House, located on the grounds of Rose Hill, once belonged to Johnny Cash and June Carter-Cash. Take a glimpse into their lives as you tour their old home, which still contains some of their belongings. Golf-lovers will also be impressed with Rose Hill, as you can find some of the best golf courses in the Caribbean here.
Good Hope Estate in Falmouth is another plantation worth visiting while stopping in Jamaica. In the 18th century, Good Hope belonged to John Tharpe, the largest land and slave owner on the island. After emancipation, Jamaican workers turned the estate into a village, and today it is a working citrus farm. Nowadays, people come to the plantation to visit the Great House, which is an excellent example of Georgian architecture, and to experience breathtaking views of the Queen of Spain Valley, the Cockpit Mountains, and the Martha Brae River. You’ll never be bored at Good Hope, where you can ride around in dune buggies and ATVs, go zip lining, walk the gorgeous grounds, and plenty more.
A Day in Ocho Rios
If you’re docked in Ocho Rios, you can visit Sun Valley Plantation. On the tour, you’ll learn about its history as a slave plantation, as well as how it functions in the modern-day. Sun Valley is a working plantation, so you’ll get to see and learn about the exotic fruits that grow there and meet some of the workers. This plantation is family-owned, and a member of the family will be sure to let you sample some fruits and juices! Whatever port your ship will be stopping in, you’ll be sure to find a plantation to visit. Jamaica is so much more than just beaches and palm trees, so unlock the history of this island by taking a tour of a Great House and plantation.
Travel tips from smart travelers like you.