At my recent Lovers Leap Jamaica visit I had lunch at the Restaurant, enjoyed the breathtaking view and listened to the story as to how the spot got its name. More in the story later....Find the best Attractions in Saint Elizabeth
Lovers Leap Jamaica is a popular attraction in the district of Yardley Chase St Elizabeth. The site is a bluff on the Santa Cruz Mountains with a 520 metres (1,700) ft drop to the shores of Cutlass Bay.
It offers a spectacular view of Jamaica’s southern coast stretching from Rocky Point, Clarendon in the east to Treasure Beach St Elizabeth in the west
At the gate I was met by Oniel the smartly dressed gate keeper/security guard who greeted me with a welcoming smile. After a brief chat I paid entrance fee (J$300) – approx. US$3.00 and entered the property.
Oniel pointed out the car park and introduced me to Yolande, my tour guide. Lunch is prepared to order here so with limited time I ordered lunch prior to the tour.
Although I had heard it before, I listened keenly to Yoland'e presentation and took a few notes. But before I get into the story, here are a few features of Lovers Leap St Elizabeth.
From the restaurant balcony the spectacular view of land and sea takes in the mountains of Alligator Pond in Manchester parish and beyond to Clarendon parish to the left. To right the view is of the coastline of St Elizabeth, Great Bay and the Treasure Beach area.
A four mile track down to sea level starts at the Lovers Leap Ball Ground. Trek at your own risk as no guides are provided. Cutlass Bay at sea level with its sharp rocks guarding the seafront - hence the name Cutlass Bay.
The menu consisted of several local dishes at reasonable prices – my lunch was fried chicken and chips and a bottle of water which set me back J$600 – approx US$5.00.
Lovers leap is located at Yardley Chase near Southfield, St Elizabeth, Jamaica – approx. 2.5hrs drive from Montego Bay and approx. 2 hours from Negril. Distance: approx 103km from Montego Bay and 108 from Negril.
The Legend of Lovers’ Leap surrounds the tragic love story of two enslaved Africans who refused to be separated in life. According to folklore, Richard Chardley one of the early owners of the Yardley Chase Plantation was in love with his house keeper.
The young woman however was in love with someone from a neighboring plantation. In order to have her to himself Chardley plotted to sell her lover.
The enslaved couple fled the plantations only to be chased and rounded up at this site. In a final embrace the lovers jumped from the cliff to their death. It is believed that this incident gave rise to the name of the area as Yardley a corruption of Chardley and “Chase” is the planter’s pursuit of the couple.
There are however many versions of the story of Lovers’ Leap and Yolande's version which incorporated all the above was also quite captivating.
In prehistoric times the area was once inhabited by the indigenous Taino people of Jamaica (AD650-1600). Under the Spanish (1494-1655) it is believed that the site was used as cattle range.
From the 18th century onwards Yardley Chase was a coffee and cotton plantation which up to 1500 acres (part of which was the current Southfield and Top Hill Districts) with a population of 80 enslaved Africans.
Lovers Leap is protected area for both its natural and cultural resources. The site is a part of the Lovers Leap Forest Reserve which is managed by the Forestry Department. Established in 1950 the reserve is both terrestrial and marine and covers 176 hectares (435 acres)
Lovers Leap was designated a Protected National Heritage Site on May 9 2002.