Once an immense sugar plantation, the Barnett Estate is one of the finest examples of Old World colonialism in Jamaica. Today, the plantation is a valuable resource for sharing Jamaica's unique spirit via local perspectives on subjects like food, dancing, history and even music. Guided tours include stops by the Chattanooga (a working, 100-year-old sugar mill that is powered by a donkey), the vegetable and herb gardens and an authentic jerk pit, where folks can learn the secret of perfect jerk seasoning. After seeing the grounds, visitors can tour the estate's historic great house, Bellefield, which features a restored interior and period furnishings. The day culminates with an amazing buffet luncheon headlined by terrific local dishes.
Built in the early 1800s, the Belvedere Estate has a long history of prosperity and destruction. It was one of the area's largest sugar producers for decades but became one of the first casualties of the 1831 Christmas Rebellion, leaving ruins that still stand. Today, craftspeople in period dress reenact some of the daily tasks performed over a hundred years ago, and visitors can take a tour to learn about what life was like on the plantation.
The Rocklands Feeding Station in Anchovy is well worth the short drive for birdwatchers who want to get a glimpse of some of the area's distinctive wildlife. For over 50 years, birds from the region have held afternoon feasts at this sanctuary, affording visitors a chance to see the famed Doctor Bird, Jamaica's national bird. But these tiny hummingbirds are only one variety you can see here.
Built between 1780 and 1800, the Greenwood Great House contains perhaps the finest example of antiques in the Montego Bay area. Owners Bob and Ann Betton go out of their way to explain the antique furniture, oil paintings, and musical instruments to their guests. Connected to the famous family of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the house also features an extensive library of rare books.
Perhaps the most famous great house in the country, Rose Hall has a history fraught with tragedy and mystery. One-time owner Annie Palmer, better known as "The White Witch," supposedly helped hasten the death of three husbands and one plantation hand (reported to be her lover). The tragic though suspenseful story casts a mysterious aura around this favorite tourist destination and has inspired one of the most popular books in Jamaican history, "The White Witch of Rose Hall."