Tour dates 2019 announced !

SPECIAL GREEN CASTLE BIRDING TOURS 2019 Our 2 special Greencastle birding Tours for 2019 are now released. Reserve to avoid disappointment!
The dates are:
23rd to 30th January 2019
8th to 15th March 2019

For the amazing price of $1795 you receive our all-inclusive Birding Tour which annually is extremely popular because it offers exceptional value for money. Most of our groups see all 29 Jamaican endemics, as well as many of the endemic subspecies, Full details and itinerary at: https://www.gcjamaica.com/guided-birdtours/

We are also the perfect place to bring a non-birding partner for relaxing at Jamaica’s premier birding and eco resort.Enjoy our renowned Jamaican hospitality! Please see our superb reviews on Trip Advisor.

For further information or to confirm a date please email us on info@www.gcjamaica.com to process this SPECIAL price.

IMPORTANT;
*Group Airport transfers are included from Montego Bay in the afternoon with departure flights based on mid to late afternoon/evening flights; transfers from Kingston airport can be provided for an additional charge.

*Based on standard en suites -superior front line en suite accommodation may be reserved for a reasonable additional sum. See accommodation section of website and email us with any request at time of booking. Subject to availability.

* For the single traveller there is a $275 supplement plus 10% Government tax.

Flight Information:

Daily NON STOP flights from many North American airports including New York and Miami and Toronto.
None stop flights from London Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester in the UK with Thomson on new Dreamliner and daily with Virgin and British Airways from London; .
Flights from Frankfurt, Germany

Please note:

50% deposit at booking and balance within 60 days of arrival.
Flights not included. Alcohol can be purchased from the bar. Cancellation Policy is shown at the foot of the website.

Places to Visit in Jamaica

Jamaica has so much to offer – glorious landscapes, deep blue sparkling seas, stunning emerald mountains, amazing beaches, coral reefs, rainforests, rivers, and so much more. It’s also got an array of diverse wildlife and is famous for its endemic bird population. There is also its colonial history and there are still many beautiful homes that date back to colonial times.

Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Negril, and Port Antonio are busy tourist areas. Negril is famous for its long stretch of beach with clear waters and coconut palms. Eco tourists flock to Port Antonio as it is close to the Blue Mountains. In Kingston, Jamaica’s noisy and thriving capital home to reggae star Bob Marley’s former home – it’s also home to lots of museums and places to visit. Outside the busy tourist area life moves at a slower pace. It’s all about relaxing!

Please see below a list of some good places to visit and if you are staying at Green Castle Estate we organise tours and outings to all these lovely places.

Dunn’s River Falls

Dunn’s River Falls is a famous waterfall near Ocho Rios. The Spaniards called the area “Las Chorreras”, the waterfalls or springs and it is one of the loveliest places to visit in Jamaica.

Bob Marley’s Museum

The museum is situated on the site of the legendary musician’s home, which he purchased in 1975 in Kingston. This house, featuring 19th-century architecture, was Marley’s home until his death in 1981. A visit gives a great insight into Marley’s life.

Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are the longest mountain range in Jamaica. They include the island’s highest point, Blue Mountain Peak, at 2256 m. From the summit, accessible via a walking track, you get amazing views. There is also some amazing wildlife to be found in the Blue Mountains.

Port Antonio

Port Antonio is a city on Jamaica’s northeast coast and it’s the gateway to Jamaica’s tropical jungles, mountains and waterfalls. In the John Crow Mountains, Reach Falls flows into a river pool. In the east, the Blue Lagoon is known for its lovely blue waters.
Rio Grande River
The Rio Grande, found in the parish of Portland is definitely worth a visit. It was named when the Spanish occupied Jamaica in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Negril

Also known as Seven Mile Beach, Negril Beach is one of Jamaica’s most beautiful stretches of white sand. There are lots of hotels and restaurants along the stretch of beach and lots of things to do.

Montego Bay

Montego Bay, the capital of Saint James Parish on Jamaica’s north coast, is a very busy tourist area. Popular beaches include Doctor’s Cave Beach.

Falmouth

Surrounded by sugar estates, Falmouth is one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved Georgian towns. Once a leading port, the town has great examples of 19th-century Georgian architecture. Greenwood Great House built in 1790 by Richard Barrett, a relative of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a museum complete with furniture of the era.

Kingston

At the foot of the Blue Mountains, Jamaica’s busy capital city offers a modern contrast to the island’s relaxed pace. Kingston can be intimidating, but there is also lots to do and see: galleries, museums and so much more!

Jamaican culture … unique and vibrant

Whether you have visited Jamaica or not, you will probably know that it has a dynamic and vibrant culture from its music, dance and food to its arts and crafts all derived from its rich heritage.  This cultural diversity probably stems from the many different nationalities that have landed on the island’s shores over the past several centuries each bringing something to add to the mix.

Located south of Cuba, Jamaica is divided into fourteen parishes and it is 4,244 square miles in area. In 1872, Kingston, with a quarter of the population, was made the capital.  It is located on the South Eastern coast of the island and it is considered the cultural capital, and like many cities it is large and noisy.  It is also quite modern compared to some of the other parts of Jamaica that still remain traditional, sleepy towns and villages where life moves at a different pace.

Whether they are the descendants of the colonists or recent immigrants people of many different nationalities live and work together in Jamaica. Each culture has added something to the way Jamaicans live their lives.

The Jamaican language is another way in which the blending of mixed cultures is illustrated.   The language is a mixture of English, Spanish and African. Although Jamaica’s official language is English, many of its residents speak with their own linguistic style and this can be different from village to village. Most of the language comes from Spanish, African, English and Rastafarian.  For example, you might hear shoes called “zapatos,” – the Spanish word and people might use the African word “nyam,” meaning “eat.”

Jamaican culture is also enriched by its flavoursome, spicy and unique food.  Using the aromatic spices of the Caribbean the dishes are an unusual fusion of flavours in the world. Most popular on the menu is jerk, a spicy marinade that is added to meat, fish and chicken. However, it is the yams, bananas, plantains, corn bread, salt fish and ackee (a fruit) as well as goat curry that make up some of the most traditional dishes although seafood, which is in plentiful supply is always popular cooked fresh or in a curry.

Religion or spirituality is also important to Jamaicans and  the island has churches of many different Christian denominations including Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, and Presbyterians but there are also Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Bahai’s, and Rastafarians who live comfortably in Jamaica.

Music, dance and crafts are a huge area of importance to Jamaicans.  The Jamaicans love to express themselves through their music and to celebrate with dance. The most popular form of Jamaican music is reggae, which has a laid back sound that has become popular worldwide. Many reggae musicians have grown to international fame, including Bob Marley… The popularity of reggae continues and has evolved into Dancehall, a variation of reggae.  Jamaican dancing is unique and has changed over time from the styles of Europeans and Africans.

Jamaica is also home to many artisans who make products out of local and natural materials by hand.  These can be found at local craft fairs and stalls on the street, and include glazed pottery animals, straw hats made of palm leaves, embroidered linens and batik clothing, and shell jewellery or Rastafarian wood carvings that are usually made of red hard woods.

Every country has its own style and its own culture and Jamaica is no different, however, Jamaican culture is much like its cuisine, an infusion of many different flavours and cultures evolved from its rich heritage.

Green Castle Estate … steeped in history, dates back to the very early beginnings of Jamaica

Jamaica and the other islands of the Antilles evolved from an arc of ancient volcanoes named rikitiki that rose from the sea millions of years ago.  Green Castle history begins with Jamaica’s first inhabitants, the Taino. …  While knowledge of the Jamaican Tainos is still far from complete there have been archaeological explorations that have taken place at Davey Hill on Green Castle Estate revealing our Estate dates back to the very beginnings of life on the island. It has revealed a people that lived on a wide variety of animal sources as well as cassava root.  Early inhabitants of Jamaica named the land “Xaymaca”, meaning “Land of wood and water” and this evolved or changed into Jamaica over time.

However, it was on May 5, 1494 that Christopher Columbus, the European explorer, who sailed west to get to the East Indies and landed in Jamaica and officially put it on the world map. Shortly after Colombus’s discovery, the Spanish colonised the island and took the Tainos as slaves. By 1600 the Tainos were largely extinct through ill treatment and disease, and many West Africans were brought to the island as slaves.

Spanish settlement of the north side scarcely outlived the Tainos but unfortunately, very little remains of these earliest traces of European culture.  We do know that the Spanish built a coastal road that would have run through Green Castle.  But that road had disappeared by the time of the English settlement in the 1660s, to be re-established when the trade in sugar began on the north side in the 1730s. There has also been speculation that the Spanish town of Melilla, never precisely located, might have been in the area of Green Castle.

In 1655, the English invaded Jamaica, defeating the Spanish. The English built the settlement of Port Royal and this became a base of operations for pirates and privateers, including Captain Henry Morgan.  The waters of Green Castle Estate were part of the busy port area during this period. We also believe the waters off the Green Castle Estate private beach would have been central to the pirate operations and the caves and coastline perfect for hiding their treasure!

England gained formal possession of Jamaica from Spain in 1670 through the Treaty of Madrid.  Shortly after, in the 18th century, sugarcane replaced piracy as Jamaica’s main source of income.  Under English occupation, Green Castle carved out a distinguished place in Jamaica history. For two hundred years it was owned by a succession of three of the leading families on the island who developed it as it as plantation. During this period all trade in an out of the plantation was by sea. Another two hundred years passed before viable overland routes connected the north side to Jamaica’s major cities in the south.

Green Castle continued to grow and thrive, and it was actually named “Green Castle” during this time after a romantic ruin in Ireland by Robert Nedham.

Robert Nedham’s plantation prospered and expanded from around 1728, and he started sugar plantations at Green Castle and Orange Hill.  He occupied the great house at Green Castle until his death in 1738. Unfortunately, remains of the original great house have so far escaped discovery, in spite of concerted attempts to locate its foundations.

The coral-stone tower of Nedham’s landmark windmill still survives, and carbon dating has established that one of its largest timbers dates from a tree felled in the 15th century, suggesting salvage from a Spanish ship or some Spanish building in the vicinity. Close to the mill tower are foundations for an animal mill and associated sugar production buildings and storage buildings.

Several fragments of a cluster of warehouses and a wharf at Jack’s Bay also survived. These date back to around 1750.

Nedham’s son, also named Robert, took little interest in Jamaican life. As a Result, Green Castle and its associated properties passed to George Ellis on the elder Robert Nedham’s death in 1738.Thus Green Castle became associated with a third illustrious Jamaican family, the descendant of Captain John Ellis. The extended Ellis family was just coming into its own in Jamaica. They would be a dominant force in local politics as well as sugar cultivation until the middle of the next century.

During most of the 18th century sugarcane was Jamaica’s main export. However In the last quarter of the century, the Jamaican sugar economy declined as famines, hurricanes, colonial wars, and wars of independence disrupted trade. Producers in other countries became more competitive and production dropped significantly.   Green Castle suffered the woes of all Jamaican sugar estates in the early 1800s. Depressed sugar prices and the mandated end of slavery (to take effect in 1834) pushed all but the most successful plantations to the brink of bankruptcy.  In 1854, all three Ellis estates were put on auction.  As a result, the estate were broken up and abandoned, leaving the land to be settled by squatters.

Joseph Bravo, a London merchant, put the Green Castle parcel back together in 1871, with a new emphasis on pimento production.  When Bravo died in 1881, the land passed through several hands before clear title was finally achieved by John Pringle in 1887. Pringle was in the process of purchasing numerous north side lands and converting them to banana plantations (by now the banana trade had replaced sugar as Jamaica’s leading export). According to some estimates, by the turn of the twentieth century St. Mary parish became the leading banana producer in the world. For the next fifty years Green Castle strived as a banana plantation, however, with the onset of the Great Depression, the financial affairs of the estate and its owners once more began to crumble and it once again failed.

In 1937, Green Castle was sold to its manger, Joseph Ray Johnson. A visit by John H. MacMillan, Jnr., in 1950 led to a lease and purchase of Green Castle Estate by an American with deep roots in the agricultural industry. Macmillan immediately set about reintroducing diversity to the plantation economy.  Banana, coconut and pimento were paramount and the savannas became grazing grounds for beef cattle.

When MacMillan died Green Castle was sold to its current British owners.

Visitors wanting to learn about Green Castle History can step inside our historic windmill tower built in the 1600’s, or find shards of pottery on Davey Hill from the original Green Castle inhabitants, the Taino Indians around 900AD. The landscape is inspiring, and as you sit on the Estate House veranda looking out to sea, you can imagine tall ships coming into Jacks Bay to collect sugar, rum, cocoa and bananas to take back to European markets. Take a walk on the natural eco beach and you will see pieces of brick and English coal dropped on the natural eco beach when it was a busy port during Green Castle’s plantation days.

Our tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence

Guest feedback is all important to the entire team at Green Castle Estate and the majority of our guests can’t wait to post a positive review on tripadvisor to tell us what a great holiday they had.

If you want to enjoy our traditional Jamaican hospitality and all that Green Castle Estate has to offer, go to special offers to find about our latest offers (the ones detailed are currently for bird tours, however, we also have special prices/packages available for couples and families. To find out about these please contact the us by email: info@www.gcjamaica.com

For the birds…. Jamaica’s the place to go!

Jamaica is an island paradise in the Caribbean and Green Castle Estate is a 1600 acre unspoilt private estate (previously a plantation) just waiting for visitors to explore. Bird lovers are in for a special treat as the variety of local and migratory bird life is second to none providing a kaleidoscope of colour! Home to almost 300 species (some migratory), it is a dazzling display of beauty courtesy of Mother Nature and there is no better location to find the many of these species than at Green Castle Estate. It’s a delight for bird lovers and home to so many species as the unspoilt rainforest is just as it was hundreds of years ago. Our gardens are lovingly cared for – it’s the perfect home for these beautiful and special creatures.

With its lush rain forest, Green Castle Estate offers bird lovers and watchers an unrivalled adventure. We run a range of bird tours and also welcome third-party tour operators who bring guests to view our special inhabitants. There are a wide range of trails to explore and depending on the time of year you can see the winter migrants from North America, there are 100 plus local breeding birds and 26-30 endemics such ranging from the Red-billed Streamertail who love to congregate in our flower-laden garden – to the very difficult to spot – Jamaican Blackbird that feeds exclusively on the creatures living in bromeliads.

With over twenty miles of well-defined footpaths providing easy and safe access to a diverse set of habitats. There are special birds to be found right across the estate.

As well as extensive tracts of pristine forest, there is a large water reservoir, grasslands, agricultural fields, mangrove swamp and the stunning coastline. Our registered guide is always available to provide expert local knowledge; he can also take you to other key little-known birding destinations across the island.

As a British Bird Fair special offer, guests can enjoy 15% holidays booked between now and October 1st 2017 for travel between until the end of December 2017 (quote birdfair17). There are also special offers available from April 2018. Contact info@www.gcjamaica.comor or book via the website (www.gcjamaica.com).

Green Castle Estate Celebrates 55 Years of Jamaican Independence

When people think of Jamaica they think of an island paradise with beautiful beaches, rum cocktails, delicious local seafood and a warm, friendly atmosphere – few would imagine also having historical sites, 171 species of bird life, lots of rain forest trails all within the 1600 acres of your holiday resort.

Steeped in colonial history, a hidden and little discovered treasure with so many natural wonders on your door step, Green Castle Estate is one of tropical Jamaica’s precious eco jewels. With accommodation to suit all budgets (cottage, apartments and villa) it’s surrounded by the peace and the tranquility of acres and acres of pristine rain forest which hasn’t changed in over hundreds of years.

The facilities include an inviting swimming pool, private beach, horse riding, massage, bird tours, historical tours, breathtaking views of the mountains, warm Caribbean blue seas and so much more.

Green Castle Estate is only one mile from the main highway but close enough to travel to the many attractions. It is, however, away from the main tourist track, so we welcome visitors as friends, and it is a safe environment where you can do as much or as little as you like.

To celebrate Jamaica’s 55 years of independence, we have joined with Expedia to offer a 20% discount to anyone who books with us between now and 14th September 2017. This discount is valid for holidays taken from September 2017 through to December 2017. If you are looking for a relaxing, romantic holiday, viewing native and exotic bird life, a fun-filled family adventure then come and experience eco tourism at its best. This is the perfect destination to genuinely enjoy the spectacular gifts that nature has to offer.

Castle Green Estate offers a wonderful base to explore Jamaica or an unrivalled holiday destination. We have it all with a team who pride themselves on treating each and every guest with typical Jamaican hospitality, helping to create those special memories that you will remember and cherish forever.

For more information please contact us at info@www.gcjamaica.com or go to Expedia to book this amazing deal. You won’t regret it!

Percy the Peacock

Percy our Peacock is being moved from another part of the estate to our Estate House grounds for all our guests to admire. He has been without a mate for some years so we are bringing in a female Peacock to make him feel more at home!

Green Castle Estate promotes protection of birds and their habitats

With the 6 week bird shooting season coming to an end in Jamaica, it’s important to keep our feathered friends at the forefront of everybody’s thoughts. We at Green Castle are dedicated to the preservation and conservation of wild birds and their habitat. Jamaica has more endemic bird species than any other island in the Caribbean. This rich bird life is threatened by the country’s high rate of deforestation. Conservation efforts are hampered by the general lack of environmental awareness and knowledge of Jamaica’s natural heritage.

Green Castle Estate comprising 1600 acres which has 50% tropical rainforest works hard to try and enhance people’s understanding of their local wildlife and the importance of protecting it.

There are around 28 species of birds that are endemic (only found here) to the island. These birds are often described as ‘quite beautiful’. There are around 300 species of birds that are not confined to Jamaica and are ‘residents’. There are also another 17 species of birds that are occasional visitors and migrants. For those who are interested in birds or love nature, they can be fascinating to watch.

The large size of Green Castle means we have a diversity of ecosystems, including fresh water ponds, a mangrove swamp, streams, forests, pastures and coastline. We have also deliberately left watersheds highly vegetated, creating scenic views and bird habitat. Twenty-seven of Jamaica’s endemic bird species have been sighted at Green Castle already as well as seven Caribbean endemics. In total, there have been over 171 different species of birds sighted within Green Castle’s 1600 acres. Green Castle has over 20 miles of walking trails which make birding easy and enjoyable. Visitors come from all over the world for birding holidays at Green Castle. We offer guided birding tours and nature trails within our grounds for people to learn about birds, view them in their natural habitat and to understand more about the Jamaican countryside.

Whether you’re looking to relax or have a more active holiday, Green Castle Estate really does offer you the chance to immerse yourself in a true Jamaican cultural experience.