BLUEFIELDS is where pirate Henry Morgan sailed from to attack Panama in 1670, and the calm seas and sheltered bay have attracted every generation of Jamaican settler. The most interesting building is the privately owned but now virtually derelict Bluefields House, uphill from the police station. It was once a temporary home to Philip Gosse, “father of Jamaican ornithology” and inventor of the modern aquarium, who researched Illustrations of the Birds of Jamaica and A Naturalist’s Sojourn in Jamaica during an eighteen-month residence in 1844–45. In the gardens stands a breadfruit tree said to be one of the first in Jamaica, planted by Captain Bligh when he brought seedlings from Tahiti. These days, the most famous (occasional) resident is sprinter Usain Bolt, who’s said to favour the region’s calm (and its real estate opportunities) when he’s not enjoying city life in Kingston.
Low-key Bluefields Beach, the narrow, white-sand public beach here, gets very busy with Jamaicans at weekends – though weekdays you’ll have it largely to yourself. To find it follow signs to Bluefields Beach Park, itself a collection of units selling drinks, jerk chicken and full meals at the beach’s northwestern end.