Discovery Bay: A pocket guide

Long a favorite holiday spot of Jamaica’s wealthiest families (who reside in vacation rentals in the hills), Discovery Bay is becoming a destination for foreign travelers as well. The town of Discovery Bay is on Jamaica’s north coast in Saint Ann Parish, the area where the first Jamaican Bobsled Team trained for the 1988 Olympics, on a hill close to the beach—the 1993 movie Cool Runnings was loosely based on the bobsledders’ story. Discovery Bay offers seclusion, sun, and a backdrop fit for the big screen.

Nearby is Dry Harbour Bay, believed to be the first land reached by Christopher Columbus in 1494, and Puerto Seco Beach, considered to be the best in all of Jamaica; its shallow waters are ideal for younger families, and its white-sand beach is filled with locals enjoying a playlist of reggae beats. Vendors serve authentic Jamaican food while you bask in the glorious Caribbean heat.

In Columbus Park you’ll find a lively bar serving Jamaican jerk chicken and pork. Atop a bluff on the west side of the bay, the park is a treasure trove of canons, nautical bells, anchors, and other intriguing relics dating back to the Spanish colonial period.

Three kilometers from Discovery Bay is Green Grotto Caves, an underground network that runs for approximately 45 kilometers. Narrow steps lead down to an expanse of chambers, where delicate stalactites hang precariously above you. Previously home to the Taino people, whose carvings can be seen on the walls, the caves were frequented in later years by the Spanish, who used them as hideouts during the English takeover in 1655. Stick with the guided tour to reach the highlight of the Grotto Caves, the Green Grotto, a glistening underground lake that reflects the intricate downward pointing peaks of the ceiling in perfect clarity.