News

2019 Tour Dates Announced!

SPECIAL GREEN CASTLE BIRDING TOURS 2019 Our 2 special Green Castle 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 many places to visit that have so much to offer.  Jamaica is the jewel in the Caribbean crown. It is no wonder why Jamaica features as so many peoples dream destination. There are places to visit in Jamaica that are straight out of paradise.  Glorious landscapes, deep blue sparkling seas, stunning emerald […]

Jamaican culture … unique and vibrant

Whether you have visited Jamaica or not, you will probably know Jamaican culture unique and vibrant and is famous across the world.  From Jamaican 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, many nationalities have arrived and settled in Jamaica, 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.  Like many cities Kingston is large and noisy.  It is also quite modern compared to some of the other parts of Jamaica.  Outside of Kingston Jamaica remains very traditional, with 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.

Jamaican language.

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. Jamaica’s official language is English. However many of its residents speak with their own linguistic style.  This can be different from village to village. Most of the language comes from Spanish, African, English and Rastafarian words.  For example, you might hear shoes called “zapatos,” – the Spanish word and people might use the African word “nyam,” meaning “eat.” Jamaican clothing is traditionally very beautiful and very bright.  Colours are used to enhance and celebrate life, and are evident in Jamaican clothing.  Traditional Jamaican clothing is made from Calico cloth. If you take a tour from Green Castle into Ocho Rios or Kingston, you will see this clothing in abundance.  It truly is a beautiful sight.  Another aspect that makes Jamaican culture unique is the Rastafarian clothing.  Clothing is traditionally red, gold and green, after the colours in the Ethiopian flag.  Clothing is always made from natural materials, due to the importance of this in Rastafarian beliefs.  One thing you will see a lot of in Jamaica, whether it is on the beach, in a rum bar or hiking through traditional villages, are the Rastafarian hats.  These are known as Tams and enclose the Rastafarian dreadlocks.

Jamaican food.

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, yams, bananas, plantains, and ackee (a fruit) are popular fruit and vegetables.  You will also get to enjoy corn bread, salt fish and goat curry which make up some of the most traditional dishes. Seafood, which is in plentiful supply is always popular and can be found cooked fresh or in a curry.

Jamaican religion.

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.

You will also discover ceremonies very unique to Jamaica.  For example which is Kumina is a Jamaican religious ceremony.  This usually involves  dancing, music spirit possession.  Traditionally this is a way of celebrating ancestors and also providing thanks. It can also be used to appease ancestors as well.   Traditionally this ceremony has its roots in African culture, likely stemming from the Congo.  The ceremony is spectacular to watch and a real treat for visitors to see.  Kumina normally is performed when good luck is required but also at significant events such as a wake, funeral or wedding.  Other ceremonies visitors to Jamaica may see include Revivalism and the Nine Nights ritual.

Revivalism, like much of Jamaican culture, has blends of European and African culture, but with a uniquely Jamaican influence.  Revivalism popular in Christianity, here also has an enhanced role for the balance with nature and spiritualism. The Nine Nights ritual is in essence an extended celebration of a persons life once they have passed.  It lasts nine days and involves many aspects of a traditional wake, with music , food, stories and like a lot of Jamaican culture, washed down with a lot of Jamaican rum.  These celebrations are very personal and a lot of fun.  On the ninth night, the burial usually takes place and the celebrations finish.

Jamaican music.

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.  Reggae has a laid back sound that has become popular worldwide. Many reggae musicians have grown to international fame, including Bob Marley. Today Bob Marleys former home, is now known as the Bob Marley museum which you can visit on your tour to Jamaica.  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.  Spend a day shopping in the local markets to discover glazed pottery animals, straw hats made of palm leaves, embroidered linens and batik clothing.  You can also find delightful shell jewellery or Rastafarian wood carvings that are usually made of red hard woods. Jamaica culture unique across the world,

What makes Jamaican culture unique?

The chances are you have heard of famous Jamaicans such as Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, Jimmy Cliff and Shelly Anne Fraser Pryce. Have you also heard of Portia Simpson Miller?  Portia Simpson Miller has served her country in a variety of roles including Prime Minister, and was voted in 2012 to be one of the most 100 influential people in the world.  Marcus Garvey is another example of what makes Jamaican culture unique.  A political leader, entrepreneur and civil rights activist, until his death in 1940.  He founded the Black Star Line business and his views influenced a wide range of people from the Nation of Islam, to the Rastafarians.

Another aspect that makes Jamaican culture unique is how the country has managed to blend an ever progressive economy for Jamaica with the retention of its history and natural beauty.  Famous historical sites dot the landscape and can be visited on any trip to Jamaica.  The wealth of natural wonders are there for all to see. The world famous Blue Mountains, Green Castle Eco park and Cockpit County give visitors to Jamaica a chance to rediscover nature in its purest form.  Gone are the constant noises of phone calls, replaced with bird song and an ecosystem almost unrivalled on the planet outside of the Amazon.  Whilst staying at Green Castle Eco Park, you can take a guided tour discover the 28 endemic species of bird, as well as see some of the historic sites in Jamaica, combined with incredible views.

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. Discover it today with your stay at Green Castle hotel.

History Surrounding Green Castle Estate

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.

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 full of animals, birds, tropical fauna and a huge range of snails. 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.

Contact us today to discuss your next vacation or birding tour.

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 rainforest 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 (rustic rooms, period cottage rooms, and superior suites, along with a Villa, Cottage and apartment) it’s surrounded by the peace and the tranquility of acres and acres of pristine rainforest which hasn’t changed in over hundreds of years.

The facilities include an inviting swimming pool, private beach, horse riding, massages, 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 are delighted to offer a 20% discount to Jamaicans who book with us between for the Jamaica Independence holiday celebrations. 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.

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.