One of the smallest parishes in Jamaica, St. Mary has been home to the powerful and the famous. James Bond came to life in the St. Mary home of his creator, Ian Fleming, and Noel Coward lived and entertained at GoldenEye.
St. Mary is located next door to the parish of St. Ann, and is approximately 2 hours from Kingston.
Its capital, Port Maria, was the site of the most serious rebellion in Jamaica’s history. The 1760 revolt spread almost island-wide. Five years later, another rebellion in the parish was suppressed.
St. Mary was also the location, at Rio Nuevo, of the last battle between the English and the Spanish, who fled to Cuba after their defeat. A monument commemorating to the English leader, General Doyley and the last Spanish Governor, Don Cristobal Ysassi, was erected to commemorate the take-over.
Following the decline of sugar production, the parish turned to bananas and began shipping them from Port Maria, Annotto Bay and Oracabessa as early as 1887, making Jamaica the first commercial exporter of bananas in the Western Hemisphere.
In addition to bananas and its famous former residents, St. Mary is also known for the beautiful James Bond Beach, and White River and Wag Water Rivers.
St. Mary is also the location, at Boscobel, of Jamaica’s third international airport, named for Ian Fleming. It was opened in January, 2011.
Brimmer Hall – Located in Port Maria, Brimmer Hall produces bananas and coconuts. There’s a pool, gift shops, restaurant and a bar.
Castleton Gardens – Established in 1865, Castleton Gardens was once the most richly stocked botanical gardens in the Caribbean. About 400 specimens from Kew Gardens in London were transplanted there. Castleton is located approximately 20 miles from Kingston. Admission is free, however tips for the guides are welcomed. Combine with a visit to the Wag Water River.
Firefly – Noel Coward fell in love with Jamaica in 1948 while on holiday at Ian Fleming’s GoldenEye. He eventually moved from his first house, Blue Harbor, which had become a popular spot for his celebrity friends, to Firefly, the house he had built. Coward is buried at Firefly. The property is now a historic site owned partly by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, and the Noel Coward Estate.
Golden Eye – The former home of James Bond’s Ian Fleming, Golden Eye is now owned by former Island Records owner, Chris Blackwell, who has kept it furnished as Fleming left it. Unfortunately, bus tours are not allowed.
Wag Water River – The Wag Water originates in the parish of St. Andrew, flows through St. Mary, and empties out into the sea near Annotto Bay in the parish. Combine with a trip to Castleton.
White River Rafting – Take a leisurely rafting trip down the White River to Dunn’s River Falls. Your hotel can arrange a tour with a rafting company.