Black River Travel Guide

By Admin | Last Updated August 26, 2019

Black River is a small town of 4,261 residents in south western Jamaica. Capital of the St. Elizabeth Parish, the town is named after the river of the same name, which meets the Black River Way, close to the city. Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, is 154 kilometers from the city. It takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes by road.

Black River is one of the oldest European towns of the country. It used to be a very prosperous city in the 19th century; in fact, Jamaica’s most prosperous, at the peak of the sugar trade. African slaves were brought to the port here to work in the sugar mills. To this day, there is a small port at the river’s mouth. Lumber mills also poured money into the economy. There used to be many warehouses that stored lumber and sugar. Some of them have now been turned into restaurants.

Most tourists visiting Black River stay at the nearby Treasure Beach, where there are several resorts, restaurants, bars, and cafes. There are 2 more beaches – Luana Beach, and the Crane Beach. The city is also a good starting point to visit many attractions in the region like the Appleton Rum and the YS Falls.

Black River – Quick Facts

Black River Small town in south western Jamaica, once an important port and Jamaica’s most prosperous city.
Location St Elizabeth Parish
Designed By Leyden brothers from England, 3 men who owned a lot of real estate in the area.
A Port Town Port at the mouth of the river goes back a long time when timber, sugar, rum, and cattle skin was traded from here.
Slavery Many slaves were brought from Africa and Caribbean Islands to the Black River port to work in the sugar and lumber mills.
A busy trading hub and sea port during the 18th and 19th centuries, Black River is one of the oldest European towns in Jamaica.

Black River

The town gets its name from the river that flows close and meets the sea. The river runs for 33.2 miles or 53.4 kilometers and has 4 tributaries. One of Jamaica’s longest rivers, the name refers to the color of its water, which is caused by layers of thick decomposing vegetation. It’s an interesting river full of natural beauty and activities.

  • The Black River is home to more than 100 species of birds
  • There are approximately 300 crocodiles
  • It is Jamaica’s 3rd longest river

There are boat tours on the river to see crocodiles and birds. There are so many crocodiles here that sightings are guaranteed. Most boats are able to reach just a few miles upstream because a low bridge obstructs the way. But some of them can sail below the bridge for further exploration. Before going on a crocodile safari, check whether your boat can pass through the bridge.

The mangroves around the river are home to more than 100 bird species, many frogs, fishes, and crabs.

The Spanish called the river ‘Rio Caobana’, which means ‘Mahogany River’, after its dark appearance.

Town Architecture

Once an extremely rich town, Black River has many impressive houses and mansions. The architectural styles are varied from British Colonial, Jamaican Vernacular, Jamaican Georgian, and Georgian. What you will find mostly are however Victorian and Georgian buildings, reflecting the different times in city’s history. The town’s historic district is a Protected National Heritage District since 1999.

You will also see some wooden buildings, to the north and western sides of the city. They have big balconies, fretwork, and sash windows.

Some important structures in Black River –

  • Waterloo House
  • Black River Anglican Church
  • Invercauld Great House
  • Magdala House
  • Black River Court House
  • Black River Hospital

Many famous people have come from Black River, like Norman Washington Manley, Sir Donald Sangster and George William Gordon.

Black River was Jamaica’s first town to have electricity. That was in 1893. It was also the first town to have automobiles in 1903. The city had a telephone system only 10 years after its invention.

What To See And Do At Black River

  1. YS Falls – A series of 7 waterfalls with natural pools where you can swim. There is a tropical garden with picnic benches and sun loungers where you can relax. There is also canopy top zip-line for thrill seekers.
  2. Treasure Beach – A 6 mile long beach with several rocky outcrops and small coves. There are also a few resorts, restaurants, cafes, and bars. Most tourists stay here instead of the town itself. Visit the Pelican Bar and try the drinks they serve and the seafood. Exotic location and good food.
  3. Appleton Rum Estate – Makers of the world’s best rum. Only 30 kilometers from the town, the estate has been making rum since 1749.
  4. Crocodile Safari on Black River – The swamps, estuaries and marshes of the river is home to approximately 300 crocodiles. Take a wildlife boat tour from the wharf. Sightings are guaranteed. Appreciate nature. Chance to see many species of birds too.
  5. Old Town Centre – Spot Georgian and Victorian era architecture in the old town centre. A few places worth mention are Farquharson Wharf, Parish Church, and the Magdala House. You can even stay at the Waterloo Guest House for a historic and memorable time.
  6. Waterloo Guest House – A historic building and guest house owned by the Shakespeare family. It was the first home to have electricity in Jamaica.
  7. The Black River Spa – A spring that goes back to the 18th century. It has medicinal and curative properties.
  8. Black River Anglican Church – See murals inside the church, which are dedicated to Robert Hugh Munro and his nephew.
  9. Invercauld House – Located on High Street, this building was erected in 1894 by Patrick Leyden. This is a very good example of Jamaican Georgian architecture.