St Thomas, nestling below the Blue Mountains, is the most neglected of Jamaica’s parishes, and as a result, its villages are somewhat impoverished with meagre facilities for tourists. For some, however, the region offers a slice of the “real” Jamaica, untouched by the demands of tourism. The main attractions are the rambling old spa town of Bath in the foothills of the mountains, and also remote Morant Point, where a candy-striped lighthouse overlooks a stunning beach. A couple of waterfalls in other areas are interesting diversions, though there’s little to do in the parish capital, Morant Bay, except to reflect on one of the bloodiest periods in Jamaica’s volatile history. The parish’s friendly people remain probably the biggest draw; large-scale sound-system parties and stageshows (such as the excellent roots-reggae East Fest, held in late December/early January) are to be found on public holidays, and, largely due to the presence of the descendants of free Africans, St Thomas is the cradle of Jamaica’s African-based religions, with roadside Kumina sessions found frequently.

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