News

Green Castle Announces Closure…

Dear guests and associates,

After a long and successful journey as one of Jamaica’s premier eco and nature resorts, it is with great sadness, to inform you, that Greencastle Estate Hotel and lodgings will be closing from the 22nd September 2022 due to the Estate having been sold and its current owners retiring.

We would like to thank everyone for their support over the last few years and particularly the birding community and birding companies worldwide who chose Greencastle for their group tours and accommodation. However, it is possible the hotel may reopen next year, but this will become clearer when the new owners have formulated their future plans.

In the meantime, those parties with an existing reservation who have paid a deposit, will be contacted shortly to arrange full refunds. You can of course visit us before the 22nd September. Please email us your preference at – info@gcjamaica.com.

For Birders who have booked flights but have not reserved and paid deposits for accommodation, who still wish to visit Jamaica, we can suggest alternative birding lodges and locations as a suggestion but obviously cannot offer guarantees.

We would like to thank our wonderful staff for their loyalty and devotion to Greencastle, some of whom are to to be retained under the new ownership.

Over the years, we have created many amazing memories for all of those who’ve visited Greencastle and helped break several world records.  We’ve included below just a very small selection of some of the best images we’ve either taken ourselves or provided by visitors.

Wishing everyone the best for the future.

Kind regards

Richard, Trace and the Green Castle team

 

Estate House and Verandah at Sunrise Pool with a View at Green Castle

Inside 500 yr old Windmill Tower

Blue Hole at Green Castle

Newry at Green Castle

Jamaican Owl - Photo courtesy of Eric Hynes

Green Castle Estate's 1600 acres

Potoo Superior Cottage rooms at Green castle Hotel Jamaica

Veranda view from period cottage rooms at Green Castle Jamaica Green Castle Villa, one of the best boutique eco hotels in Jamaica

Ruins at Green Castle

Spanish Tower, part of the Green Castle Estate hiking Tour Guided Birding Tour on Green Castle Nature Retreat Holiday apartments in Jamaica with balcony Holiday apartments in Jamaica with balcony

Critically endangered Jamaican Iguana

Stunning Hotels in Jamaica Bird watching at Green Castle Estate, Jamaica Jamaican Tody

Honeymoon in Jamaica Bird watching in Jamaica The Green Castle Peacock. Percy Sight seeing in Jamaica Holidays at Green Castle Estate, Jamaica

Jamaica’s best kept secret…(and up to 15% off most accommodation between May-Oct)

Though Green Castle has long been one of Jamaica’s best kept secrets over in Saint Mary Parish on the North Eastern coast – this conception is changing rapidly.

During recent lockdowns and restrictions, Green Castle saw a large increase in local Jamaicans visiting the Estate. Why?

History

Green Castle has a long history associated with it going right back to Jamaica’s earliest inhabitants – the Taino Indians. There are remnants of a former Taino village that can be seen on the estate and a Taino burial site. Much of Jamaica’s fascinating past can be evidence throughout the estate – for example, there is a 500yr old Spanish Tower which has been carbon-dated. There are remains of an old English fort and there are also strong arguments as to why the coastline at Green Castle may have been where Columbus first made landfall. You can read more about Green Castle’s fascinating history here. There is also an opportunity to do an Estate Tour either as part of your stay/vacation or on a simple daytrip.

Weekend breaks / vacation

Green Castle is ideal for a weekend break or for vacation. As it’s only a small 12 room boutique hotel, it’s perfect for feeling like you’re in another country. With the Estate’s 1600 acres, it’s perfect for social distancing and all rooms are accessible from the ground floor, therefore making it easy to keep your distance if you prefer.

We have had a lot of visitors from Jamaica looking to celebrate landmark family occasions with us by taking a number of rooms and in some cases, the entire villa.

Added to this, we offer 15% off most accommodation to local Jamaicans booking between May and October. Check out our accommodation options here.

Accessibility to local tourist attractions / Hiking

Green Castle is ideally placed to access many of Jamaica’s most famous tourist attractions, most of which are within an hour’s drive. These include Mystic Mountain Adventure Park, gentle river-rafting on the Rio Grande, Goldeneye and many more.

We also have lots of hikes you can undertake – either on a day visit or as part of your weekend break / vacation. With 20 miles of private hiking trails, there is something for everyone. Apart from taking in the history of Green Castle and Jamaica, there are many exciting things to see and discover. I.e. hidden waterfalls / hikes to Kwame Falls or Green Castle Blue Hole. You can find out everything there is to do here.

This pic below of Mingo Falls (taken by Timothy Lloyd on a recent visit to Green Castle), is just one of the many amazing sights to see…

You can check out the many different hiking routes we offer via our interactive map here.

Map of Green Castle Hotel Jamaica Best things to do in Jamaica

 

Nature lover’s paradise…

One of our recent guests at Green Castle, Lesley Burt took some great shots of the local sights and shared them with us.  Below you can see a stunning vista of the Blue Mountains across the Green Castle gardens. There’s also a great pic of a small Lizard – aside from birds, Green Castle has an abundance of animals on its doorstep making it a destination of choice for nature lovers.

International tour operators visit Green Castle throughout Pandemic…

Despite a challenging global climate due to Covid over the last couple of years, Green Castle has remained open throughout and has been welcoming and keeping visitors safe from around the world.

During the recent peak season in Jamaica (November 2021 to March 2022), we are delighted to have hosted successful birding tours with leading international birding tour operators from the USA and the UK as well as three of our own Greencastle Birding tours. During these tours, and in most cases, all 28 endemics have been sighted. Don’t just take our word for it though, you can check out some of the amazing reviews we’ve had on Trip Advisor below or visit Trip Advisor and see for yourself (search Green Castle Estate)

 

Additionally, you can check out the birds that have been sighted for yourself on eBird (Green Castle Estate, Jamaica)

With leading international tour operators and renowned birding enthusiasts visiting Green Castle year after year, it’s not hard to see why with pictures taken like this one below of a Jamaican Vervain-Hummingbird by Paul Sullivan earlier this year on a birding tour…

Here’s a recap of some of the great reasons to visit Green Castle in 2022 / 2023…

✔ Leading international birding tour operators visit us year after year.

✔ Many international direct flights from North America, the UK and Europe.

✔ We also run our own hugely popular birding tours, with most of them selling out. *We have places available for our 5- & 7-night tours in November 2022; January, February, April and November 2023 (see website for details)

✔ Social distancing is no problem in our beautiful 1,600-acre private rainforest.

✔ All staff and drivers are vaccinated.

✔ On-site Antigen testing for guests with same-day results. PCR tests can be done close by.

✔ Full compliance with the Jamaican government’s Covid-19 protocols.

✔ World record birding! We have played a part in several birding world records (see our blogs).

✔ The numbers – most groups regularly see all 28 Jamaican endemics when combined with two mountain trips. Over 100 species of bird regularly seen with 171 species being the record.

✔ All rooms are en-suite and at ground floor level making social distancing easy.

✔ Plenty of amazing things to see in Jamaica and fun activities for non-birding partners/friends, many within a short drive – including visits to Goldeneye (historic home of James Bond author Ian Fleming) and Firefly (home of playwright, Sir Noel Coward).

For the latest entry information for Jamaica, please click here.  Our compliance can be seen when searching under Guesthouses and the Name Taino Hills Estate (Green Castle, St Marys).

For more information, tour dates, pricing, itineraries, please visit the birding tours page on our website. Or contact us on info@gcjamaica.com.

 

Latest travel advice for Jamaica (March 2022)

Travelling to Jamaica just got easier. Whether you’re travelling from the USA, UK or Canada, there are far less restrictions and tests as the markets open up. From March 1st, 2022, Jamaica no longer requires visitors to complete a Travel Authorization form. All travellers to the island aged 12 and up will still have to show proof of a negative Antigen OR PCR test taken and received within 72 hours before they check in at their departure airport. Unvaccinated visitors to Jamaica will no longer have to quarantine upon arrival under relaxed Covid border restrictions that are now in force.

Any Antigen tests required prior to returning home are easily organised and can be done at Greencastle at a reasonable cost of $60 USD per person.

You will be asked on arrival where you are staying. And just to reiterate other changes over the last couple of months…

USA

Travel to Jamaica from the USA is permissible and only requires an antigen test in Jamaica 24 hours before returning to the USA.

See latest travel advice from the USA.

UK

Jamaica is now free to travel to, from the UK and there are no restrictions in place.

Those returning to the UK from Jamaica that have had their vaccinations no longer need to undertake a test prior to departure.

There’s also no need to quarantine for 10 days after arrival home.

See latest advice from the UK.

Canada

If you’re travelling from Canada, you’ll need to ensure you’ve obtained a covid-19 molecular test in Jamaica before returning to Canada.

See latest travel advice from Canada.

For the EU, please consult your country-of-origin governments’ website for guidance.

Covid compliance for Tourism, within Jamaica’s resilient corridor can be seen when searching under Guesthouses and the Name Taino Hills Estate (Green Castle, St Marys). 

If you’re unsure about any of the above and how this may affect potential travel to and from Jamaica, please feel free to contact us on info@gcjamaica.com and we’ll do our best to help.

Eco-paradise

We often throw around terms like ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘eco-resort’. And now especially with the global move towards eco-friendly and sustainable tourism – it’s more important than ever we embrace these terms and the meaning behind them. So, what do we mean when we use them in relation to Green Castle?…

Going green takes on a whole new meaning with Green Castle. We have 1600 acres of private rainforest for visitors and guests to enjoy. 20 miles of hiking trails and an abundance of natural wonders both physical and of the wildlife variety.

Aside from its rainforest, Green Castle is blessed in that it has many streams, waterways, ponds and waterfalls to explore. It also is a haven for wildlife. It is world-famous for birds – with several world-records having been broken there. It also has an abundance of other natural wildlife including a wide variety of lizards.

All of the produce we use at Green Castle is sourced locally – fruit, meat and fish. Additionally, we are lucky to have some amazing ecological sites to visit, from Jack’s Bay Beach to the Haughton River. We have wild horses, Green Castle Cliffs and Reservoir plus a variety of other animals, insects and birds. Hidden gems like Robin’s Bay and Portland Parish offer an opportunity to meet Jamaicans and appreciate what Caribbean life is really like. Green Castle eco resort sits on 1,600-acres / 6.5km2 in northern Jamaica. Though the estate itself has changed hands throughout the centuries with some of the island’s most prominent families, traces of its first inhabitants, the Jamaica Tainos date back to the 10th century – read more about the history of Green Castle. Green Castle works hard to combine eco-tourism in Jamaica with looking after the environment and the land. It employs local people. Staff prepare meals using food from a farm on the property or produce bought at local markets. It uses partial solar energy, harvests rainwater and uses natural forms of cooling instead of traditional air conditioning.

Over the centuries, Green Castle Estate in one form or another has been used to raise cotton, pimento, indigo, sugar cane, cocoa and ginger. And latterly thrived as a banana plantation. At one stage, Green Castle used to be the largest grower of orchids in Jamaica. Today, organic honey and coconut oil are produced on the estate and parts of it are still used for local farming. Remnants of these fascinating industries and Jamaican culture are still visible within Green Castle’s 1,600 acres. Visitors looking to enjoy an eco-vacation in Jamaica come for a chance to relax, enjoy walking or hiking within Green Castle’s 20 miles of rainforest and secluded coastal trails, explore our old colonial ruins or visit the natural eco-beach close by. We’ve even got our own 30ft waterfall with which you can bathe in its spring-fed waters.

To help give you the perfect eco vacation in Jamaica, Green Castle can also help in organizing many different eco adventure activities including fishing trips with locals and kayaking off the coast. You can find out more information on the fun things to do in Jamaica here. You can also book one of our Green Castle Estate Tours either as part of your vacation or a day trip. This includes visiting many of the historical attractions that Green Castle has to offer including Jamaica Taino burial sites and village dating back to the 10th century and our 500-year-old Windmill Tower which includes wooden timbers that have been radiocarbon dated back to the 14th century.

Map of Green Castle Hotel Jamaica Best things to do in Jamaica

Jamaica is now welcoming international tourists…

Jamaica welcomes tourists from all over the globe, with around 4 million visitors annually. Though the global Coronavirus pandemic has impacted tourism around the world, we are now beginning to see signs of recovery following the successful rollout of vaccinations in most countries. Travel restrictions have been lifted by many countries including the USA, Canada and most of Europe.Those that haven’t yet are anticipated to change status in the coming weeks.

For those that are able to travel to Jamaica, everybody over the age of 12 and up, and regardless of nationality, are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken within three days of travel and have an approved Travel Authorization form prior to boarding a flight to Jamaica. Travel applications must be submitted within seven days of the travel date.

Once on the island, visitors staying at approved accommodation within the resilient corridor can move around freely and visit approved, Covid-protocol-compliant attractions within the corridor. The tourism corridor is governed by a strictly enforced set of protocols and standards along with other risk management initiatives.

If your home country requires you to get tested before you return, Jamaica has adequate testing locations and capacity available to meet the demand. In addition, many of the resorts and hotels offer approved testing services on property.

Green Castle has been open throughout most of the last 12 months and has been welcoming tourists throughout in a clean and safe environment. We are now taking bookings for those that are wanting to enjoy precious vacation time for later in the year and into the 2022 season, therefore would advise to not delay in making contact with us.

Doubly vaccinated travellers’ quarantine period is now only 5 days and the visits to the mountains for birding is acceptable as part of the quarantine as no contact is made with anyone else other than the birding group

They are proud to be listed as one of Jamaica’s ‘COVID-19 Protocol Compliant Approved Listings’ and is located within a resilient corridor. You can view Green Castle’s status on the link below and also find out more about visiting Jamaica and entry/departure requirements. Green Castle is listed under ‘GUESTHOUSES’ then ‘Taino Hills Estate (Green Castle, St Mary).

https://www.visitjamaica.com/travelauthorization/

Renowned blogger visits Green Castle’s 500yr old Spanish Tower…

Renowned local blogger, Heidi recently visited Green Castle’s Spanish Tower with her family in tow.  Her page on Instagram is ‘wherenextheidi’.  Under the tag of ‘In Mi Back YAAD’, she’s built up a following showcasing many of the exciting and varied things to do within Jamaica.  We loved her post so much, we’ve listed highlights of it below…

“One of the highlights on the Green Castle Tour was getting to step inside this Historic Spanish Windmill Tower.

Identified as the Historic Spanish Tower on the Green Castle Map.  Given that it’s described as a Spanish Tower then that can give you an indication of how old it is.  And as you can see, it’s in pretty decent shape as far as ruins go. Some pretty interesting facts:

  • The tower was built using an ancient Roman construction technique using put- logs to create scaffolding.
  • The timbers date from a tree felled in the 14th or 15th century, suggesting salvage from a Spanish ship.
  • The stone used to build the tower is not found in Jamaica.
  • A Jamaican Owl (endemic to Jamaica as opposed to the common Barn Owl also found in Jamaica and across the world) lives in the tower and if you’re lucky and quiet you might catch a glimpse of it…we were quiet but we were not lucky.

This is one of the many things you will get to experience on the Green Castle Estate Tour. What was surprising is that this tower is NOT listed with Jamaica’s National Heritage Trust…I wonder why?”

Thanks Heidi – we’ll get that listing sorted with Jamaica’s National Heritage Trust and we look forward to welcoming you back in the near future.  Meanwhile people can find out more about Green Castle’s Estate Tour and fascinating history by visiting our tour page here https://www.gcjamaica.com/things-to-do-in-jamaica/tour-green-castle-estate-nature-lodge/

New Interactive Green Castle Map

You can now check out our eco-resort for yourself with our new interactive map showing you the 20 miles of hiking trails for your pleasure and the many sights and attractions that will keep you busy for your entire stay. Green Castle Estate is the perfect place to come on your Jamaican vacation. Situated in Robin’s Bay, the picturesque estate is a private location that offers visitors the chance to get back to nature, relax with some true Jamaican hospitality and unwind.

We take pride in serving our guest’s delicious Jamaican food and drinks in a beautiful natural setting. With a maximum of 25 guests, we can create the perfect secluded vacation where your desire to be active or relax is all within our 1600 acre retreat. With such a large natural paradise for our guests to enjoy, we thought it would be useful to have a snapshot of some of the fun things to do in Jamaica, whilst you are on holiday.

Enjoy a stroll to Jack’s bay beach, a gorgeous eco beach where you can dip your toes in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Why not enjoy kayaking on the Green Castle Blue Hole during your vacation at Green Castle Hotel. If history and culture interests you, our estate has some fascinating sights. Discover the old burial site and the former Taino village, the original inhabitants of Jamaica. Step on the sand where Christopher Columbus is rumoured to have landed, or enjoy a leisurely hike to see the 500 year old Spanish tower. If you want to experience nature at its finest, take in a beautiful walk to Mingo waterfall. Immerse yourself along our many hiking trails seeing everything Jamaica has to offer. The national bird of Jamaica is a regular in our gardens, when you see the Red-billed Streamertail for the first time, you’ll want to sit back and gaze in awe at this gorgeous bird.

Green Castle is perfectly placed, to allow guests to enjoy everything Jamaica has to offer. Beautiful vistas of the Caribbean Sea and the Blue Mountains are literally on your doorstep. Our eco park is home to a vast array of incredible animals. With our carefully curated tours, both on Green Castle and to the Blue and John Crow Mountains, guests have the best opportunities to see all 28 endemic birds of Jamaica. We are perfectly placed to arrange trips to Kingston, Ocho Rios, and Portland without requiring hours of travel. We are not too far from airports in Montego Bay and Kingston ensuring you can start your vacation in no time.

Have a look for yourself at our interactive map here – use the legend to the left of the map to filter the different categories for you to view.

Did Columbus first make landfall near Green Castle?…

Could it be that the famous intrepid explorer, Christopher Columbus first made landfall at Annotto Bay on the North East coast of Jamaica, near to the Green Castle Estate?

On this day on May75th, 1494 Christopher Columbus “set foot” on Jamaica when he “claimed” it for Spain during his second voyage to the New World. The native Tainos called the island “Xaymaca”, the Spanish changed the name to “Jamaiqua” and eventually “Jamaica”‘. Columbus and the Spanish established plantations to supply their ships.

Columbus was said to be thoroughly impressed with what he saw as noted in his logs “the fairest island that eyes have beheld: mountains and the land seem to touch the sky … all full of valleys and fields and plains.”

It is widely known that Columbus first made landfall at St Ann’s Bay, however, from analyzing eye witness accounts and diary entries from Michele (Miguel) Cuneo, an Italian who accompanied Columbus on the voyage; Fernando Colon, Columbus’ son, Fray Bartolome De Las Casas (friend of Columbus) and Antonio Herrera, it is clear that there is a strong argument he first made landfall at Annotto Bay.  A report written by the Jamaican Historical Society suggests that based on these accounts (all stating the same thing), Columbus first made landfall at Annotto Bay taking into account sailing conditions at the time, the direction he was sailing from and eyewitness accounts. Initially, Columbus was repelled upon approaching the coast of Jamaica by Arawak Indians. It is well known that there was a large Arawak settlement which would account for the large number of Indians who came out in their canoes to repel the Spanish ships. Additionally, the area around Annotto Bay was and is unsuitable for beaching a ship the size of the one Columbus sailed (The Nina). It is thought that after this and given the direction of the winds in the area, he sailed further up the coast to St Ann’s Bay.

You can find out more about the fascinating history associated with Green Castle by visiting our history page here.