Crocodile In The Black River © Jan Hazevoet
Black River town in St Elizabeth parish still displays relics of the days when it was one of the most influential in Jamaica, being a major producer of black textile dye before the days of synthetic dyes. Still to be seen along the waterfront are some old wooden buildings with colonnaded verandas and gingerbread trim. The Invercauld Hotel, built in 1889, gives a hint of what the great houses of the town were like in its heyday. A walking tour of this old town is very interesting, filling visitors in on how people lived, the slave culture and the like.
Today, tourists stop off here mainly to take a boat safari on the Black River itself, which at 44 miles (71km) is Jamaica's longest river. Peat moss at the river bottom makes the crystal clear water appear black. The 90-minute boat tours take in the 125-square-mile (324 sq km) area of wetland known as the Great Morass, which is home to crocodiles and diverse birdlife. There are about five tours a day leaving from the dock beside the Black River bridge. The excursion allows visitors to explore the wetlands and mangrove swamps along the river banks. Although the wetlands have a lot of flora and fauna, the crocodiles are the main attraction for most people: many tours include a visit to the crocodile rehabilitation centre on the river but you are likely to have good sightings of the crocs in their natural habitat as well because the water is very clear and the animals often come up close to the boat to investigate. Some of the guides might show off by feeding them or letting visitors touch them - the animals all have names and the guides know them fairly well so this is not all that dangerous.