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.