There’s no denying my bias towards exploring the south coast of Jamaica, simply because of its untamed vistas – no window dressing for tourists.
However, I do make it to the north coast, because it too has hidden gems, plus there is a reason many of the sights on that coast have tourists coming back. As luck would have it, I stumbled across information on Firefly House in Oracabessa, St Mary, and that was it…I had to go. My brother and family were visiting me in town, and with my brother being an adventurous spirit like myself, it wasn’t hard to get him to agree to a day exploring parts of St Mary.
The plan: explore Firefly, visit Galina and see the lighthouse (because I’m obviously obsessed with them), and wind down at James Bond Beach. Simple plan.
We decided we’d take the most straightforward route, using the North-South Highway out of Kingston, then from Ocho Rios, head east towards, Oracabessa. A pretty easy route, until we got to Oracabessa and needed to find Firefly. The plan to ask for directions was immediately foiled, as by this time it was pouring. We decided to rely on Google maps, but we were either inept or the directions were off, either way we quickly realised we were having to backtrack too many times. The directions we braved the rain to get, gave me my first experience in a long time of ‘Country People Directions’. Many wrong turns later, we were driving up a very narrow road, at the end of which was a clearing and we were at Firefly. The weather was also on our side as it stopped raining almost at the same time we arrived.
Firefly was the last home of British playwright Sir Noel Coward, where he entertained the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill and Elizabeth Taylor. The home is preserved as it was when he died in 1973. Today, Sir Noel has the most amazing view of the coast, as his grave is on the expansive lawn, overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
There is a tour of the house and grounds which will set you back about J$1500. you’ll be able to traipse through his bedroom, his kitchen, books and music collection and sit in the living room, which has amazing views of the lawn and gardens, plus the coastline.
Before Sir Noel bought the property, it was called Look Out, because it provided original owner, the infamous pirate Sir Henry Morgan, with a place from which he could see approaching enemy ships in the harbour. There is a tour of the building he used as his hideout. It’s currently the area being used as a restaurant and bar.
After the breathtaking views at Firefly, we headed out to find the Galina Point Lighthouse. Leaving, Firefly, we realised there was a much more straightforward route, but hindsight is 20/20. Focused on the new task of finding Galina Point, we asked directions and thought, ‘sounds pretty easy’. Not really. It took a drive through a housing scheme and a few wrong turns, until we arrived at the end of the road and the lighthouse at the edge of a rocky coastline.
A little chill by the water, a few pictures, and a failed attempt to climb the lighthouse (don’t try. lol), and we were back on the road.
However, we had to give up on the trip to the beach. Between the rain and time lost trying to find Firefly and the lighthouse, I had to reluctantly acknowledge that I’d have to plan another trip to James Bond Beach. However, it was still a very lovely chill day exploring my island paradise.