Among The Crocs Of The Black River In Jamaica

Posted On December 22, 2009 

Common Info

Black River is one of the longest rivers in St Elizabeth region Jamaica in Central America after Rio Minho. It is 53 kilometres long. The name of Black River is derived from the darkness of the riverbed caused by thick layers of rotting vegetation. The source of the river is in Cockpit Country and it flows southwest-wards to meet the Caribbean Sea in the city of Black River, capital of St Elizabeth.

Country Info

One of the island states of Greater Antilles (one of the four island groups in the Caribbean including Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Haspaniola). The area of Jamaica is 11,100 square kilometres. The island is located in the Caribbean Sea and is 145 kilometres south of Cuba. Jamaica has a population of 2.8 million people. Kingston is the national capital.

black river in jamaica

St Elizabeth

St Elizabeth, which is the second largest parish of Jamaica, is located in the southwestern part of Jamaica. Black River is the capital town. St Elizabeth is a perfect paradise for the nature lovers. Diverse terrain, tranquil beaches, picturesque landscape, coves, you name it all and St Elizabeth has it to offer.


Winter months are cool and dry while summer months are hot although it is during the summer when offshore breeze and afternoon rains keep the mercury down. Rivers are fuller and the land more lush during this time.

Black River biodiversity

After it passes through the town of Lacovia, Black River flows into Lower Morass, the largest swamp vegetation in the Caribbeans. The river thereafter merges with the YS River near Middle Quarters, a small quarters and a region known for the crayfishes. The Lower Morass featuring shallow estuaries, marshland and mangrove swamps support various kinds of fish like snook, mullet and mangrove snapper and bird (over 100 species) like egrets, whistling ducks, water hen, red-footed coots, ospreys and herons and crabs and lobsters. A wading jacana bird called ‘Jesus Bird’ is also found among the aquatic plants. The dense mangrove trees in these parts also add to the beauty of the biodiversity.

Saltwater crocodiles

Saltwater crocodiles are among the largest predators found in the Lower Morass swamps. They can be found floating casually in the Black River until the engine sound of some tourist boat or a piece of alluring meat disturb them to make fast movement. Once these crocodiles were plentiful along the southern coast of Jamaica and theyBlack River crocodile even feature in the country’s Coat of Arms. But soon they began to fell prey to large-scale hunting and encroachment. In 1971, the Jamaican government had declared them as protected species but yet the young crocodiles are often killed. Plans are on for over a long period of time to establish a national park in the wetland to save the endangered species but several factors have impeded the development. The habitat of the saltwater crocodiles has been destroyed by draining of the swamps for agricultural purpose and development of beaches. At least half the original wetland habitat of the crocodiles has been ruined causing them to move out to the coastal areas. Moreover, the regular entry of tourist boats into their area and with people reaching close to them to feed them, the animals have become less fearful of human advancements hence leading to incidents of man-animal confrontation. However, both parties have also learnt to live with each other. The Fonthill Wildlife Sanctuary in St Elizabeth that includes coastal mangrove preserve has been set up to protect the locally endangered American crocodile. Here the crocs are best viewed in early morning. Experts estimate that about 300 crocodiles are left in the swamps today.

For boat trips in the crocodile habitat

$15 per tour is charged for a boat tour. If anybody wants to ire a local fishing boat for a longer expedition trip, it would cost between $38–50. J Charles Swaby’s Black River Safari is a major attraction for those who desire to make a trip on the Black River.

Best time to visit

Expedition in the swamps is best from November to April

How to reach

The nearest airport is in the city of Montego Bay. While going by road, carrying a map of Jamaica is essential. Buses are available to the city of Mandeville and Black River from the major cities in Jamaica. Buses for Treasure Beach start from Black River.


One must carry comfortable clothing, proper walking shoes, swimming costumes, light jacket and along with hat and sunburn lotion. Carrying water during swamp land trip is also important.

Important resources for planning a trip in St Elizabeth/Black Water:

Important Resources
  • Countrystyle Limited; PO Box 60 , Mandeville, Jamaica WI , Tel: 876-962-3725Fax: 876-962-1461 , Email:
  • South Coast Safaris Ltd., 1 Crane RoadBlack River, Jamaica WI, Tel: 876-965-2513Fax: 876-965-2086
Other attractions/activities
  • Treasure Beach and adjacent bays. Walking along the beach is an unforgettable experinceLovers’ Leap
  • Lovers’ Leap
  • Fonthill Wildlife Sanctuary
  • 120 foot high Y S Falls waterfalls near Black River
  • The Great Pedro Bluff (dry scrubland)
  • Bamboo Avenue
  • Georgian architectural elegance at Black River city
  • Snorkelling in the beaches (April to October is the best time)
AccommodationTreasure Beach Hotel
  • Jake’s Hotel
  • Treasure Beach Hotel
  • Mar Blue. Domicil
  • Idler’s Rest Beach Hotel

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2 Responses to “Among The Crocs Of The Black River In Jamaica”
  1. Joe says:

    After reading this article I just feel to pack my bags and go for this thrill tour living with Crocs. A great place described in a very subtle manner.

  2. Stella says:

    Thank you for all this great information. My husband and I are planning to visit Jamaica in the Summer and I will love to visit the Black River. Great Pictures!

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