Holywell Recreational Park

Despite still nursing a broken ankle, last weekend I accepted an invitation to brunch and a drive up into the mountains to Holywell Recreational Park (pronounced Hollywell), a 25-acre park that is part of the Blue and John Crow Mountains.

Holywell Recreational Park Entrance
Holywell Entrance
Mountains surrounding Holywell
Mist on the mountain
Grounds at Holywell
View of the grounds
Flowers and the mountains, Holywell
Flowers and mountain

Holywell is located about 3,000 feet above sea level and about an hour’s drive from Kingston. The drive takes you up mountain roads that are narrow, winding, potholed and not very well signposted, through communities like Strawberry Hill, Gordon Town, Irish Town, Craigton, Redlight, Hardwar Gap, and Newcastle. It’s a ride that’s definitely not for the faint of heart or anyone who gets carsick. The views, however, are spectacular and with temperatures about 10 degrees cooler than in Kingston, it’s the perfect summertime escape.

Lilac flower, Holywell

Holywell Recreational Park is a nature lover’s domain with several species of ferns, wild raspberries, cheeseberries, epiphytes, nasturtiums, impatients, trees such as the Blue Mahoe (the national tree), Caribbean Pine, and Milkwood, and several species of endemic birds.

Cup + Saucer flower, Holywell
Cup + Saucer flower, local name

It’s the perfect place to go to escape the hustle and bustle and heat of the city. At Holywell, you can hike any of the five trails – Blue Mahoe, Oatley Mountain, Waterfall, Shelter, and Wag Water/Dick’s Pond – that go from easy to moderately difficult and can take from 20 to 90 minutes to complete.

Hydrangea, Holywell

For those who want to stay over, Holywell Recreational Park offers three furnished cabins – the Cupressus (2 bedrooms), Hotlips (one bedroom with 2 single beds), and Mountain Yacca (studio with 2 single beds) – with all amenities, including fireplaces (it gets very cold, by Jamaican standards, in the mountains). The only drawback is that you have to book at least a month in advance.

Visitor Center, Holywell
Visitor Center

In addition, there’s a discovery zone where kids can play and learn about wildlife, camping facilities, visitor center, picnic areas, a plant nursery and a parking lot.

One of the guides showed us cheese and raspberries that grow wild in the park. The cheeseberries, as they’re known locally, are a bit sweeter than the raspberries, and the raspberries are a brighter red than what I’m used to seeing in the US.

Holywell Cheeseberries
Raspberries from Holywell

I definitely plan to return to Holywell when my ankle’s stronger and I can tackle the trail. Even though I couldn’t move around as I wanted to, I enjoyed the view of the mountains, the flowers, the refreshing air and cooler temperature.


Particulars for Holywell Recreational Park:

Entrance: $5.00 (adults) / $2 (children)

Cabins: $50 or $70, depending on cabin size

Oatley Mountain Trail Guided Tour: $5

Camping: $5 per person/night

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

For more photos, please check out Travel Photo Discovery and Travel World Online as well.



22 comments on “Holywell Recreational Park

  1. Lovely photos! I’ve never seen raspberries like that, either, but they look delicious. Hope you’re recovering well from the broken ankle.

  2. Looks like a gorgeous part of Jamaica and a great way to get out of the heat. I hope you don’t have to wait too much longer to become totally active again – especially as this place looks like a treat to hike.

  3. Looks like a beautiful place, Marcia. I particularly like the scene in the third photo. I didn’t know you had broken your ankle. Hope you feel much better soon.

  4. Love all that greenery. Mr Boy came home yesterday from Texas expressed how green it is in GA compared to where he is but here is nowhere near being as green as where you are. Even the visitor center looks cozily tucked away in all that nature. I could get real lazy there.

  5. What a wonderful post and all the photos are so inviting. I’m sorry to read that your ankle is still bothering you. Hope the healing continues and do take some time to rest your foot and put it up…
    By the way, that lovely “unknown flower” above is a Cleome – also known as Spider flower. It’s a heavy seeding annual plant and quite beautiful in a garden. I used to have it in my garden and it was one of my favorites… I had so many flowers but remember mainly the ones that made me stop and look. I’ve written a number of times about what happened to my garden but.. I still love flowers. 🙂
    Here’s a Wiki link on it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleome
    Take care,

  6. Sorry to hear about your ankle – ouch!

    What a beautiful place.

    Sounds like you were very brave to approach the trip with your ankle. Your adventuring spirit keeps you going.

  7. Looks like a wonderful place to visit and stay, even when it looks like the weather was a bit dreary.
    I hope you ankle is feeling much better soon.
    Have a great weekend ahead. I am joining you through Travel Photo Monday.

  8. Thanks, Jill, and thanks for stopping by. It’s coming along but not sufficiently to take on hills or hikes.
    Holywell is a beautiful place – very peaceful, well except for some dirt bikers who were there while we were.

  9. Thanks, Elizabeth and thanks for the name of the flower. I don’t remember if that’s the name I heard but since I didn’t write it down…
    Sorry about your garden.

  10. It’s definitely a place to get lazy, Totsymae. Wake up, commune with nature, write, sleep, eat. Repeat.
    I imagine it’s probably brown in Texas now.

  11. It’s gorgeous up in the mountains, Andrew. Sometimes, it makes me rethink my preference for the sea.
    Yes, took a tumble a few months ago. It’s healing well but I’m not back to normal yet.

  12. The mountains are gorgeous, Leigh. Each time I visit, I fall in love all over again.
    And yes, it’s a great place to escape the heat. I’m told it takes about 3-4 months to heal completely. I’m giving myself have another 2 more months. But I’m getting antsy.

  13. I’ve never had cheeseberries before, love the color and what a scenic place to visit, thanks for sharing them and linking up today!

  14. It was my first time having them too. Not sure if there’s something similar in other countries but I’d guess there might be.
    You’re welcome, Noel. Looking forward to next week.

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