St. Mary

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St. Mary has in recent years gained the reputation of Jamaica’s best-kept secret, a place where hustlers are few and far between and the vast majority of people carry on with their lives oblivious to the tourism trade. The parish has a beautiful rocky coastline punctuated with beaches of all kinds, with forested hills dropping down rapidly to the sea in places like Oracabessa and the wilderness area between Robin’s Bay and Port Maria.

Boscobel, 15 minutes east of Ochi, has the small Ian Fleming International Airport thanks to music mogul and Island Outpost hotelier Chris Blackwell successfully lobbied for an upgrade to the old Boscobel Aerodrome. The airport caters to private jets. Boscobel itself is a bedroom community for many workers in Ochi and several destination resorts and villas line the coast between Ochi and Oracabessa. Oracabessa has become known as an artists’ community and produces some of Jamaica’s unique craft items you won’t find at the markets in Ocho Rios or Kingston.

Farther east past Galina Point is Port Maria, a sleepy fishing and market town whose days of glory are long gone. Nonetheless it’s worth a stop to stroll around a picturesque port town far removed from the country’s mainstay tourism economy. St. Mary lacks a tourism hub, which is perhaps central to its charm. Instead, its principal town of Port Maria caters to the parish’s predominantly rural populatio nwith a few banks and markets.

Still farther east is Robin’s Bay, an off-the-beaten track destination populated by fisherfolk and a strong Rastafarian community. The port town of Annotto Bay is quieter yet but still an active transportation hub. The St. Mary interior is some of the prettiest countryside in Jamaica, with areas like Islington covered in rolling hills with spectacular views of the coastline. West of Annotto Bay, the main road splits at a roundabout, continuing eastward toward Portland along the coast (A4) and heading south toward Kingston via Junction and Castleton (A3).

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