For the eco-tourist to Jamaica, the greenest attraction is the Blue Mountains. Campgrounds are found in areas supervised by the Jamaican Forestry Department. In most cases you will have to provide your own equipment.
A permit is needed to use one of the forest campsites. Check with the Jamaican Forestry Department, 173 Constant Spring Rd., Kingston (tel. 876/924-2667 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Usually you pay US$10 per tent. Generally shower, toilet, and laundry facilities are available at these sites. The weather in these mountains is often very cold between December and February.
One way to go green in Jamaica is to book lodgings at an eco-lodge. Most of these accommodations are a bit rawboned, but some of them are most desirable. You live in comfort.
Our favorite is Hotel Mocking Bird Hill in the Port Antonio area. Set in excellent birding and hiking country, it is a bastion of charm, good food, and very comfortable accommodations. You experience nature, but don't have to rough it here. You might have breakfast watching the hummingbirds flitter from flower to flower. Many hotels in Jamaica have gardens, but Mocking Bird Hill has 6 1/2 acres of lush organic tropical gardens and trees, one of the most environmentally friendly oases on island. It also is a short drive to waterfalls, deep forests, and botanical gardens along the north coast. Its eco credentials are Green Globe-certified, which is also reflected in the organic food that makes use of locally grown produce. The resort even sponsors an art class for its employees. They turn recycled paper into crafts they can sell. The owners of Mocking Bird also make an annual contribution to offset the hotel's carbon emissions.
For other eco-lodges throughout Jamaica, search www.eco-tropicalresorts.com/caribbean/jamaica.htm. Here you'll see pictures and a brief description of such properties as Strawberry Fields Together, lying in St. Mary Parish and set on 18 lush acres of a tropical nature reserve and sanctuary. It's surrounded by thousands of acres of undeveloped coast to explore. This property lies in one of the last unspoiled stretches along Jamaica's north coast.
Named after the popular Beatles song, Strawberry Fields Forever draws "green" visitors from all over the world to what the owners call "our little piece of paradise." Founded in the 1970s, it is a return to Jamaica like it used to be. Set at the end of a road, it opens onto miles of coastal trails, hidden waterfalls, empty beaches, and even colonial ruins to explore on its programs of adventure tours. The surrounding area can be explored by hiking or on horseback. A boat is used for snorkeling and fishing trips. The owners of the compound have cleared trails for their guests to explore. At the end of the trails you come across a beautiful black sandy beach cove or else the Kwamen Falls where you can go for a cooling swim. A picnic lunch of roast fish and yams is prepared. Adventure groups often book this nature retreat.
One of the most eco-friendly and atmospheric lodgings in all of Jamaica is found in the Zion Country Eco Beach Cabins, Muirton Pen (Long Rd.), in Portland (tel. 876/451-1737). These cabins, set on an acre of lush land with a private beach, lie between Manchioneal and Long Road in the east of Jamaica. Nature lovers, backpackers, and low-budget travelers check in here, enjoying the distant view of John Crow Mountains. Each cottage has two rooms, a sea view, and balcony, where you can fall asleep in a hammock. Rainwater provides for the bathrooms and showers, and the mini-resort recycles glass, paper, and plastic waste.
The resort of Negril offers the most eco-friendly lodges on island. As you're looking for green lodges, check out the reviews of Tensing Pen and the Negril Yoga Centre.
To familiarize yourself with "Green Jamaica" before actually flying there, search http://greenjamaica.com/eco_tourism. The site is dedicated to the preservation and environmental awareness of promoting eco-tourism on the island. One of its highlights is focusing on "green hot spots" on island.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.