Although a vacation to this island is already good for you, a pilgrimage to find Jamaica’s healing waters has long been a reason for people to travel here. Here are five of the most popular of these legendary locations for using nature’s power to help your health.
Rockfort Mineral Bath / Kingston
Rockfort Mineral Bath is one of the oldest public facilities in Kingston. It is actually a declared National Heritage Site and is officially a part of the Carib Cement Company’s complex, which also includes the fort which gives it its name. It is on the main road heading out to the airport before the turn off by the round about to head to the airport. The therapeutic property of the mineral-rich waters flow from the rockfort hills, and is believed to have surfaced after the powerful 1907 earthquake. The private small huts with the heated mineral water are currently closed for renovations, however, the cold water pool is open and there are even aqua aerobics classes every Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5 pm. Call the RMBC Office at 9386551 / 9385055 to sign up.
Doctor’s Cave Beach / Montego Bay
Montego Bay’s hip strip sees thousands of visitors every year and no destination is more popular than the famous beach at Doctors Cave. Dr. Alexander James McCatty along with his friends, who were mainly from the medical profession, accessed his property through a cave that no longer exists, hence the name. He donated it to become a bathing club, which it is still used as. In the end of early 1920's, Sir Herbert Barker, a famous British osteopath, visited the beach and later published an article declaring that the waters have curative powers and that he was restored to good health after bathing there. He said the waters could cure several ailments. And history was made. Doctor's Cave became famous overnight as celebrities flocked to the beach in droves to sample the waters for themselves. foreigners, many rich and famous came to try the water. Hotels started going up and they still cluster around the area today in the heart of Montego Bay. With a long history as a top attraction in Jamaica, the beach remains just as beautiful as it’s always been. For a small fee, you’ll have access to the white sand beaches and its healing, gorgeous waters a hundred years after it all began.
Milk River Bath / Clarendon
The Milk River Bath and Spa sits on the bank of the Milk River in Clarendon.
The waters have radioactivity of 16m curries per litre (which is about 50 times as radioactive as the waters of Vichy in France and 54 times as radioactive as the waters of Baden in Switzerland) and are some of the most radioactive waters in the world. It isn’t recommended to spend more than 20 minutes immersed in the waters at a maximum of three dips per day.
According to legend, the baths were first discovered by a slave who was beaten severely and chained by his owner, Jonathan Ludford. The slave managed to escape and went to hide in the woods and bathed in a salty natural spring which he found. The slave's wounds were rapidly healed, he then returned to Mr Ludford who was so shocked at the recovery that he made a deal to never punish the slave again if he was shown the spring’s location. He bought the property and used it until he died and then it was willed to the Jamaican government. In 1974 public baths were constructed here, they have been open to the public ever since. There’s a hotel built above it with basic accommodations and access to the baths included in the price.
Nanny Falls / Moore Town Portland
Tucked away near to Moore Town in Portland, Jamaica is this hidden cool waterfall said to have healing powers for those who bathe in its waters. Nanny Falls is surrounded by the beautiful, lush vegetation of the region, and is well worth the nearly hour long hike you have to take from Moore Town to get there. Moore Town is itself a unique experience and worth a trip as the site of one of the two original settlements of the Maroons. Nanny Falls is named after one of Jamaica’s National heroes, the only female one in fact. The residents are mindful of the appeal of the natural setting and control the number of visitors each day, For those who make the effort, the reward of a swim in one of the Jamaica’s natural wonders is well worth it.
How to get here: Head south from Port Antonio into the mountains of Portland along Red Hassel Road for about half an hour to get to Moore Town. A guide will take you from there.
Bath Springs / St. Thomas
This fairly old hotel has the feel of a guesthouse with baths inside the hotel and water piped directly from the springs into the Jacuzzis and baths. The water is slightly less heated than if you park outside the hotel and go with the locals for a 100 yard hike to bathe directly from the source. This approach though opens you up to a bit of haggling from locals so be sure to have your price set in your head. You’ll be offered a massage and if you choose to do it, it will indeed be a memorable off the beaten path experience. If you want a more traditional visit with less haggling and hassle, a stay in the hotel is itself quite a memorable Jamaican thing to do.