Jamaica would not be the same without its rivers. Rivers in Jamaica are plentiful, and can be found in almost every parish. It is no wonder the Amerindians (Tainos) called Jamaica “Xaymaca” which means “land of wood and water”. Jamaica has over 120 main rivers, which all contribute to the water provisions on the island. The rivers in Jamaica start on the mountain slopes, and run in a northerly or southerly direction. One exception to this, is the Plantain Garden River which flows in an easterly direction. Most of the rivers are not navigable except for the Black River and the Milk River.
The Blue Mountains are the wettest part of Jamaica and give rise to numerous rivers with high stream density. The limestone plateau in the center is characterized by seasonal streams, underground streams, caves, and swallows holes. Rivers are used by locals and tourists alike to carry out daily activities.
Jamaica's Largest River....
The Black River is Jamaica's widest river and it is located near to low-lying lands with clayey soils in St. Elizabeth. As a result, the soils do not drain easily and usually forms a swamp or morass. The Black River Morass is home for hundreds of species of plant and animal life. In the past, the Black River was used for transporting logwood, but today it is mainly used to irrigate the very dry but fertile Pedro Plains and as a visitor attraction known as 'The Black River Safari'
Jamaica's Longest River....
Another river of much significance is Jamaica's longest river at a length of 92.8km, the Rio Minho. This river was originally called Rio de la Mina (River of the Mine) by the Spaniards who found traces of gold in the sands, and had a small mine at Longville, Clarendon. The Minho River rises in the mountains near to Spaldings, and flows the entire length of the parish of Clarendon, and discharging in the sea at Carlisle Bay.
Other Interesting Jamaican Rivers....
The Rio Grande River is also a large river (34.3km long), located in the parish of Portland. It rises nearly 900m on the northern slopes of the Blue Mountains. The Rio Grande rafting is identified as one of Jamaica's most popular visitor attraction (see video below).
Jamaican Rivers can be quite dangerous during the rainy season, due to their tendencies to rise very high and flow swiftly. During the rainy season thay can become roaring torrents, tearing away soil and rocks in their upper courses, and damaging crops and properties in their lower reach. Over the years, the Rio Minho River in Clarendon has been known to claim quite a number of lives. Also, the Swift River in Portland had changed its course on one occasion, and this resulted in severe flooding and loss of lives. Another Jamaican River which has caught public attention is the Rio Cobre in St. Catherine which runs along Bog Walk and exits towards Spanish Town. During periods of heavy rainfall, the Rio Cobre often overlows its banks. Despite this, however, the Rio Cobre River is seen as Jamaica's most useful river, as it drains the clay basin around Ewarton; provides water to agricultural areas; used to generate electricity and makes a way (path) through the mountains for roads and railways.
List of Top 32 Rivers in Jamaica
Here's a list of the Jamaican rivers by parishes for easy navigation :-)
Rio Cobre | St. Catherine
Ferry River | St. Catherine
Hope River | Kingston and St. Andrew
Cane River | Kingston and St. Andrew
Wag Water | St. Mary
Dry River | St. Mary
Rio Nuevo | St. Mary
White River | forms border between St. Mary and St. Ann
Dunn's River | St. Ann
Roaring River | St. Ann
Landovery River | St. Ann
Rio Bueno | between Trelawny and St. Ann
Plantain Garden River | St. Thomas
Yallahs River | St. Thomas
Morant River | St. Thomas
Rio Grande | Portland
Swift River | Portland
Buff Bay River | Portland
Spanish River | Portland
Cave River | between St. Ann and Clarendon
Milk River | Portland
Rio Minho | Portland (longest river)
Black River | St. Elizabeth (widest / largest river)
Ys Tributaries | St. Elizabeth
Martha Brae River | Trelawny
The Great River | divides St. James from Hanover and Westmoreland
Flint River | Hanover
Orange River | Hanover
Lucea River | Hanover
Carbarita River | Westmoreland
Alligator Hole | Manchester
Swift River | Manchester
Use of Jamaican Rivers:
- Rivers provide water for domestic use.
- Rivers are used for recreational activities such as swimming, rafting, transportation, and fishing.
- Sand and Stones are taken from our rivers to make buildings.
- Some rivers are used to generate hydroelectric power. Jamaica was one of the first countries in the world outside of the United Kingdom to install a hydroelectricity plant just outside of Spanish Town in the 1890s. Currently there are nine plants ranging from 0.2MW to 6MW with an overall generating capacity of 23 MW installed in Jamaica.
- Some rivers are used for irrigating farm lands. There include the Rio Cobre in St, Catherine, the Rio Minho in Clarendon, the Plantain River in St. Thomas and more.
Main Rivers in Jamaica used for Tourism:
- Rio Grande - Rafting
- Black River - Black River Safari Tour
- Martha Brae - Rafting
- Dunn's River - Waterfall, swimming, climbing
- The Great River - Boat ride, dinner, dancing
- White River - River tubing, swimming
Jamaican Mineral Springs (Rivers) with Medicinal Value:
There are many mineral springs (rivers) in Jamaica. The waters of a mineral (spa) are thought to contain valuable medicinal properties capable of curing diseases such as rheumatism, lumbago, arthritis and certain skin ailments. Jamaica's most popular mineral springs are:
- Milk River in Clarendon
- Bath in St. Thomas
- Rockfort in Kingston
- Black River in St. Elizabeth