At a length of 70km (44 miles), the Black River was known to be the longest river in Jamaica but it was later discovered

that the Rio Minho at 92.8 km long is the longest      The Black River is so named do to the darkness of the river bed caused by thick layers of decomposing vegetation.  Over 100 species of birds – A Bird Watcher’s Paradise – have been recorded in the Black River morass.

The source of the river originates in the Cockpit Country where it runs underground before emerging north of Siloah on the southern fringe Cockpits.   Immediately after its emergence, the river meanders gently through the cane fields of the Appleton Estate.  It major tributaries are the One Eye River which is a continuation of the larger Hectors River which forms the Trelawny-Manchester border.

Lacovia and Middle Quarters are located between the Upper Morass and the Lower Morass.  Middle Quarters is famous for its crayfish known locally as ‘hot pepper shrimps.’ The traps used by the fishermen are similar to those of the Niger River in Africa, knowledge of its making were brought to the island by slaves over 300 years ago.  The Lower Morass consists of shallow estuaries, marshland and mangrove swamps providing a rich ecological environment for a broad range of fish, birds and other creatures including lobsters, mangrove snappers, snook and mullet, Here the river is joined by the YS river making the Lower Morass the largest (14,085 acres) swamp environment in the Caribbean.

American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) inhabit the swamps but the population has declined due mainly to loss of habitat as heavy draining for agricultural or tourist destroys their nesting places. Birds found here include egrets, herons and ospreys. The mangrove trees of the Lower Morass are sometimes spectacular with aerial roots sent out like like “dreadlocks”, sometimes dropping 40 feet into the river.  The river reaches the sea (18.021624°N 77.846949°W) on the eastern edge of the town of the same name.

Logwood tree trunks were floated down the Black River to the port to be shipped to England for making of dyes.   Nowadays, motor boats take tourists on excursions from Black River town into the lower reaches, now with Irie Safari Swamp Buggys Tours, you can explore more, deep into the swamp – where other where other tour providers are unable to access – have a unique experience with our Swamp Buggys Tours.


Black River is the capital of St. Elizabeth Parish, in southwestern Jamaica.  It developed as a port around the mouth of the river of the same name. Today the city is a centre of environmental tourism and a gateway to the Treasure Beach resort area. Treasure Beach and Crane Beach are to the south-east, with Luana Beach to the west. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, it was a thriving sugar port with a market for African slaves.

Growing prosperity in the sugar and lumber trade led to the construction of several warehouses. Some have been adapted as restaurants or as bases for eco-tours of the river.

Black River is one of the oldest European towns in the island of Jamaica, being shown on John Sellers’ 1685 map. It was designed by the Leyden brothers of England, three wealthy men who were substantial land proprietors in the area.    In 1773 Black River replaced Lacovia, 19 miles to the north-east, as the capital of St. Elizabeth.  Black River became the first town in Jamaica to have electricity and the first house wired for electricity in Jamaica was the Waterloo residence of the Leyden brothers now converted into a guesthouse and hotel.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Black River was a busy seaport for the lucrative logwood trade and for exports of rum, pimento and cattle skins from the nearby Holland, Vineyard, and Fullerswood plantations. The Logwood tree trunks were floated down the Black River to the port to be shipped to England for making of dyes.

As a major sea port, Black River became a commercial center on the south coast of Jamaica. After a ride up the river out Irie Safari Black River Tour or perhaps a Swamp Tour on Irie Safari Swamp Buggys Tour, there is so much more you can do in Black River.  Due to its wealth, in 1893 this was the first town in Jamaica to be lit by electricity, you can explore the town centre, the courthouse and other great houses close by or just sit and enjoy a meal of Real Jamaican Cuisine,