The Blue and John Crow Mountains has long been an important part of Jamaica’s History. In fact, The Blue and John Crow Mountains can be traced back to the 1600’s. During that period, the first Jamaican settlers the Tainos Indians lived in these mountains. In the late 1600’s and thru the late 1730’s, the Maroons fought two Maroon Wars with the British in The Blue and John Crow Mountains. These Maroon Wars were led by Jamaica’s only Female National Hero “Queen Nanny“” and her five brothers (Captain Cudjoe, Accompong, Johnny, Cuffy, and Quao). Together, they led a number of former slaves to battle the the British
After the Maroons defeated the British in both Wars, the British signed two separate Peace Treaty. Through these Peace Treaty, the Maroons were given land and lived under selected law. Today, the Maroons continues to live as Sovereign State with their own bylaws. They are not required to pay taxes and they elected their owned chief. Therefore, the Maroons have their own country within the country of Jamaica.
As a result of all the rich history in the Blue and John Crow Mountains, Jamaica enters the World Heritage Site after meeting all the criteria. On July 3, 2015 The Blue and John Crow Mountains was officially designated by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a World Heritage Site. As a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park of Jamaica which covers about 200,000 acres and spans across sections of the parishes of St. Thomas, Portland and St. Andres. These mountains boast a cloud forest which is considered a rare habitat of tropical mountains. Furthermore, the Blue and John Crow Mountains peaks over 3,000 feet and remains one of the last two known habitats which are home to the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly which is the largest butterfly in the Western Hemisphere.
Because The Blue and John Crow Mountains in Jamaica has been designated as both a cultural and natural Heritage site and the only one in the sub-region of the Caribbean, it now becomes one of only 32 mixed sites on the World Heritage list. Jamaica has now joined the ranks of other iconic site such as The Taj Mahal of India, the Great Wall of China, The Pyramids of Egypt as well as the Pitons in St. Lucia amongst others.
There are over 800 species of endemic plants, over 200 species of birds of which 29 are endemic bird species in the Blue and John Crow Mountains which makes it one of the largest migratory bird habitats in the Caribbean. The other location for the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly is The Cockpit County, home to the Leeward Maroons. The Cockpit County was the first Sovereign State body of land given to the Maroons after the first Peace Treaty was signed with the British. Therefore, these were some of the consideration that were thought about which makes The Blue and John Crow Mountains and it’s cloud forest extremely unique in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
In addition, there are bird watching points for all the rare endemics bird species such as the Jamaican Blackbird (Nesopsar nigerrimus). While exploring the area, the Holywell area is where you will likely hear the Rufous-throated Solitaire (Myadestes genibarbis) and see other species such as Mountain Witch (Geotryon versicolor) species of birds. The John Crow and Blue Mountains also serves as a winter habitat for many birds migrating from colder climates including the Swainson warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii). The Robin Redbreast (Todus todus) or the Jamaican Tody can also be seen in the mountains.
The whole rugged landscape of the forestry and the cascading waterfalls is very important to the island. The Blue and John Crow Mountains waterfalls extend into the Rio Grande River and supplies about 40% of the people of Jamaica with their water plus additional water for agricultural and commercial usage. The Blue and John Crow Mountains has been apart of Jamaica and Jamaicans identity since the 1600’s. During those days, the Tainos, Queen Nanny and her brothers use the mountains as their safe haven to avoid been captured and enslaved. Over the years, the Blue and John Crow Mountains have been know for the world famous Blue Mountain Coffee. The Blue Mountain Coffee is grown in the mountains and must be cultivated over 2500 feet above sea level to be branded as Blue Mountain Coffee.
Today, the Blue and John Crow Mountains are well celebrated for it’s past and present history. Furthermore, it’s now recognized by the world as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. While there are always planned event including adventurous tours arranged by several organizations. There are also a great guided bicycle tour in which the groups are driven close to the top over 2500 feet above sea level. At that point you are assigned a bicycle in which you can enjoy a beautiful scenic tour and learn some of the great history on the ride down.