Moon Author's Review
Managed by the Negril Area Environmental Protection Trust (NEPT) and located 1.5 kilometers into the middle of the Great Morass from Sheffield, the 121-hectare Royal Palm Reserve (9 a.m.-6 p.m daily, US$15) is home to 114 plant species, including the endemic morass royal palms found only in western Jamaica. It's also home to over 300 animal species, including insects, reptiles (including two species of American crocodile), and birds. The 26 resident bird species, which include the Jamaican woodpecker, Jamaican oriole, Jamaican euphonia, Jamaican parakeet, and the endemic endangered West Indian whistling duck, are joined by 16 migratory species that arrive at different times of the year. Admission includes a guided tour around 0.75 kilometers of boardwalk, and the ponds are open for sportfishing (US$5 with your own gear); you are almost guaranteed to catch African perch, tilapia, or tarpon. Shuttle service can be arranged (US$20 per person) from Negril. Royal Palm Reserve was leased by NEPT from the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) as an alternative to a peat-mining project that had been planned. In the environmental impact study, it was found the project would have destroyed the beach and reef ecosystems. The present facilities were completed in 1989. Bird-watchers should make reservations with the NEPT office (tel. 876/957-3736) to get in earlier than normal opening hours. There is a nice bar area overlooking the water where drinks are served.