The Black River on the south coast of Jamaica is known for its natural beauty and diverse ecosystem. If you’re headed to Jamaica with friends or family, a tour of the Black River can be the perfect opportunity to get close to nature and even see real-life crocodiles. The vegetation in this area is lush and you can peacefully enjoy taking it all in as you float along the water on a Black River safari. Along the way, you’ll learn much more than you expected about the wetlands of Jamaica, the wildlife, and the exotic birds of this island. You’ll also get to experience firsthand just how amazing the Caribbean can be!
Not sure what to expect on your Black River Safari in Jamaica? We’ve listed everything you need to know including the best Jamaica resorts to stay at during your vacation.
Jamaica is a land of many rivers. The Black River is one of the longest rivers on the island, measuring 33 miles (53.4km). The name of this river has to do with the dark shade of the river bed that is influenced by decomposing vegetation in thick layers. In areas where the vegetation is more concentrated, the water tends to be darkest.
The Great Morass at the Black River is the largest freshwater wetland ecosystem in Jamaica. The biodiversity here is definitely something you’ll want to see and taking a boat out is the best way to do this. There are giant mangrove trees in this area, some with roots that extend 40 feet downwards. The wetland is 125 square miles, serves as a natural filter between the land and sea, and lessens the risk of floods. Seeing the Black River and environs up close is an amazing way to explore the natural beauty and diversity of Jamaica.
An exploration of the Black River can be an exciting activity to do with friends or family while in Jamaica. There is a lot to see including vast sections of mangrove trees and thriving plant life. On any given day, you’re bound to see a variety of swamp animals including the endangered American crocodile that you might spot soaking in some sun along the river banks. Don’t worry that you might not be able to spot the crocs, the guides usually know just where to find them and can point them out. Expect all different sizes of crocodiles, including baby crocodiles on occasion. Crocodiles are protected in Jamaica under the Wildlife Protection Act. It is illegal to hunt, kill, or harass these animals.
There are over 100 different types of birds in this area, and you’ll see many of them flying overhead during an exploration of the Black River. Along the way, you might also come across whistling ducks, egrets, and cinnamon-colored jacanas. There are lots of crabs in the area as well, so you may see local fishermen floating by on traditional canoes that are typically long and thin.
Good to know: The best time for a tour of the Jamaica Black River is midday. Around this time, you’re more likely to see crocodiles. If you’re more interested in bird watching, early morning or late day tours are best.
It won’t be very difficult to get to the Black River while in Jamaica. One of the easiest ways to get there is via a Black River Safari tour. You can book this experience with a local tour operator or through your resort. As the Black River is quite expansive, it can be a little more difficult getting here on your own outside of a tour.
Book early if you’ll be going on a tour to the Black River while in Jamaica as this tour is one of the more popular options available on this island. While booking your all-inclusive hotel or resort, you can ask about signing up for this tour. You can also book this tour once you arrive at your resort. Whether you’ll be staying in Negril, Ocho Rios, or Montego Bay while in Jamaica, there are quite a few tours leaving from these areas headed for the Black River.
The Black River Safari is approximately:
● 1 hour and 28 minutes from Negril
● 1 hour and 57 minutes from Montego Bay
● 3 hours and 35 minutes from Ocho Rios
● 2 hours and 51 minutes from Kingston
Good to know: Most tours include transfers to the Black River and back to your resort in addition to your boat safari tickets. Some tours include food and drinks, but you’ll need to ask about this ahead of booking.
There are a few things you’ll want to bring with you when heading to the Black River. Here are some of the items we recommend:
● Sunscreen - It's always a good idea to protect your skin when out in the sunshine in Jamaica. Although there will be quite a few trees overhead while embarking on the Black River Safari, don’t skimp out on the sunscreen as you can still get burnt.
● Insect repellent - Bug repellant can be useful for this activity and other outdoor excursions in Jamaica. It’s one of those things you're better off having than not.
● Bottled Water - Most tours include drinking water; it can be worth it to bring some of your own just in case.
● Camera - There’ll be so many incredible things to see on this tour so bringing a camera is highly recommended. You can get amazing photos of the greenery, birds and wildlife along the way.
Expert tip: If you’ll be travelling to Jamaica with family or friends and want to make the most of your time on this island, you might find these things to do in Jamaica with kids helpful. We’ve also included our list of the best all-inclusive resorts for family beach vacations!
When selecting a tour of the Black River in Jamaica, you’ll need to decide a few things. For starters, you’ll have to choose between single site tours and combination tours. If you choose a combination tour, you’ll be able to visit more than one attraction in a day. You can do tours that include a visit to the Black River in combination with a waterfall like YS Falls. YS Falls is at the end of the Black River, so there are quite a few tour operators who offer this option. You can also try the Black River, Appleton Rum Estate, and YS Falls tour that includes three fun stops.
The cost you’ll pay for a tour of the Black River varies based on the tour operator. Prices also depend on whether you’ll be embarking on a single location or combination tour, and how long you want to spend at the Black River. You can choose to spend most of your day exploring this location, or just visit for a few hours. The best Black River tours include both the safari option and other popular attractions and activities.
Insider tip: Not sure which is the best area to stay in Jamaica to enjoy some of the best tours and attractions? Consider all-inclusive resorts in Ocho Rios and Negril resorts because these resorts are close to some of the best hot spots in Jamaica.
There's a lot to do at the Black River including boat trips, fishing, and bird watching, which makes it a prime ecotourism destination. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the opportunity to see crocodiles up close and revel in a welcome change of pace during the river tour. Whether you're a nature lover or just want to do something different, this is one of those tours that will reel you in with its serenity.
Good to know: Black River tours are one of the things Jamaica is known for. Other than this popular and authentically Jamaican experience, there are lots of other tours you can try while on this island. A few of these include tours to Dunn's River Falls Jamaica, Konoko Falls Jamaica and the Ocho Rios Blue Hole.