Along the way you will discover caves, rivers, and natural springs. You can wander through rustic settlements, isolated fishing villages and bustling rural towns; and see traces of the past in the historic landmarks including abandoned sugar works, stone aqueducts and mills, forts, great houses, clock towers, churches and old railway stations. Clarendon is the 4th largest parish and has a long and interesting history: The first Jamaicans, the Taino, are known to have settled in this area and there are numerous rock carvings and drawings in many of the caves. When the Spanish came they established their cattle ranches across the savannahs and panned for gold in the rivers. It became one of the wealthiest parishes during the British colonial era, producing indigo and growing sugar cane. In the mid 1960s it became one of the major bauxite producers in the island. The parish has an interesting heritage with a large East Indian population, who are descendants of the indentured labourers who were brought to Jamaica in 1845 to work on the plantations. The capital, May Pen, is the fastest growing rural town on the island and is located on a crossing at the Rio Minho, which is the longest river and runs the entire length of the parish.
HISTORIC SITES AND CULTURAL TOURS
Milk River Spa
There are thirty-five mineral springs in Jamaica and include coastal and mountain springs.
Most emerge along the side of river valleys, while others are found deep in caves and wells across the island. The springs vary in mineral content, flow and temperature, and some run either hot or cold, or both. The most popular springs in Jamaica are located at Milk River in Clarendon, Bath in St. Thomas, Black River in St. Elizabeth and Rockfort in Kingston.
The Milk River spa was discovered in the foothills of the Carpenter Mountains in 1794, and was originally located on a 2,000- acre estate. Initially two public baths were built, offering accommodation. The property was reduced to 350-acres, and there are now nine sunken, Roman style private baths. Massages are available, and there is also an outdoor pool that receives pumped water from the spring.
Located above the spa is a small hotel with twelve spartan, but clean rooms. There is also a restaurant serving regular meals and vegetarian dishes. It overlooks the Milk River which flows serenely into the Farquhars Beach close by. It is an unusually fine black sand beach, rich in titanium and iron that sparkle, and the blueish-gray water is shallow for as much as 20 miles offshore.
The spa runs hot, at 92 degrees, and is said to be fifty times more radioactive that the world-famous Vichy spa in France. Open daily from 7:00am to 10:00pm, it also offers a rate for children. Due to the high radioactivity, visitors can spend only fifteen minutes in the spa (although you can take up to 3 baths a day). There are also conference facilities, enabling participants to take advantage of the spa facilities.
Ruins of the 18th century greathouse located near the Moneymusk Distillery.
Located on a hill with a commanding view, it is a beautifully restored 18th century great house, with a small old family graveyard. 876-986-2561
One of the oldest Anglican churches in Jamaica, built in 1671, with family gravestones, huge cotton trees and ruins of an old windmill nearby.
A rough, single-track road leads to the lighthouse located on the ridge. It stands 145 ft. and is the highest in Jamaica.
Held annually, it is the oldest and largest agricultural show in Jamaica and features produce and prize livestock from all the parishes. There are competitions and a farmer’s market with a variety of fresh produce. It’s a fun-filled family event with lots of entertainment. 876-922-0610
ADVENTURE TOURS AND LANDSCAPES
Shaped like a bull, it is the geographical centre of the island. 876-469-1539
Over 12,000 ft. of passage ways, underground lakes and chambers.
A rugged promontory rimmed with mangroves and offshore coral reefs, it is located on the southern tip of the parish. Although difficult to access, it is riddled with caves to explore.
Clarendon’s newest eco-attraction is a wetland and wildlife centre with a boardwalk through the mangroves. There’s a bird hide, interpretation centre, mini museum, turtle pond, conservation nursery and dipping pond. You can also do bird-watching and take boat tours of the river and mangroves. It is managed by the Caribbean Coastal Area Management (C-CAM) Foundation. 876-289-8253