Croydon Plantation, P.O. Box 1348, Catadupa, St. James (tel. 876/979-8267; www.croydon plantation.com), is a 38km (24-mile) ride from Montego Bay. It can be visited on a half-day tour from Montego Bay (or Negril) on Tuesday and Friday. Cruise-ship passengers can visit on Wednesday. Included in the US$65 price are round-trip transportation from your hotel, a tour of the plantation, a taste of tropical fruits in season, and a barbecued-chicken lunch. Most hotel desks can arrange this tour, which is rather touristy and not worth a half-day for most visitors.
A Hilton High Day Tour, P.O. Box 162, Reading, St. James (tel. 876/952-3343; www.jamaicahiltontour.com), showcases the rich sociology of plantation life in the Jamaican hinterlands. Beginning at 8am every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, an air-conditioned minivan picks up participants at hotels in both Montego Bay and Negril, and returns them to their hotels the same day -- at around 3pm to Montego Bay, and at around 4pm to Negril. Breakfast and a buffet lunch of Jamaican food (such as spit-roasted pork and a dozen different Jamaican vegetables) are included. Lunch, during which a local calypso band performs, takes place on the grounds of an 18th-century citrus farm, Hilton Plantation, reminiscent of the Jamaica of long ago.
During the tour, you can see the German-founded village of Seaford Town; the village of St. Leonard's; a local church and a local elementary school where schoolchildren, depending on the day's scheduling, might perform a short choral recital that includes the Jamaican national anthem; a dressmaking studio where simple garments can be made to order for pickup before the end of the day; and a sugar mill. As you reach altitudes above 600m (2,000 ft.), along the edge of Jamaica's scenic cockpit country, the scenery, sightseeing, and botany along the way changes radically from what you'd likely find along the Jamaican coast.
All-inclusive costs are US$64 per person for participants picked up at hotels in Montego Bay, US$75 for participants picked up in Negril. Advance reservations are required.
Three-hour tours leave daily for the Rockland Bird Sanctuary at Anchovy in St. James Parish. The sanctuary lies a mile outside the village of Anchovy on the road that comes in from Montego Bay. The sanctuary was established by the late Lisa Salmon, once known as "the Bird Lady of Jamaica." The feeding station still exists today where at 2pm daily the birds are fed.
It's quite an experience to have a Jamaican Doctor Bird perch on your finger to drink syrup or to feed small doves and finches millet from your hand, or just to watch all sorts of birds fly in for their afternoon feed, including banana quits, hummingbirds, or the red-billed streamer. If you're lucky, a hummingbird might also land on your finger. For information call tel. 876/952-2009. Tours cost from $65 per person, including transportation.
In the Montpelier Hills, about a 20-minute drive from Montego Bay, you can tour the 6-acre Hanover Farm (tel. 876/899-0040; http://animalfarmjamaica.com), lying in Copse in the Hanover district. The farm is primarily devoted to aviculture -- the breeding and rearing of birds, some 70 different species. The environmentally friendly farm, which uses solar power for electricity, also has other animals, including goats, sheep, rabbits, and guinea pigs, even a donkey for kids to ride. There is also a children's playground on-site. Guests are invited to bring their own picnics, which can be enjoyed by a river. If you wish, you can use the farm's cooking facilities. Other attractions include a Butterfly Garden, an Herb Garden, and a Petting Zoo. The farm is open daily, from 9:30am to 4:30pm, charging J$500 for entrance or J$200 for ages 2 to 12.
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.