If you're looking to have a peaceful day without leaving Kingston, Hope Botanical Gardens and Zoo is the place for you.
The Hope Botanical Gardens, also known as the Royal Botanical Gardens, hail back to Jamaica’s colonial past. In 1873, it was established by Major Richard Hope, who was a commander in the British Army. He was given an estate for his part in taking control of Jamaica from the Spanish.
The Hope Gardens is spread across 200 acres of land, which was just a small fraction of Major Richard Hope's estate. It is currently the largest botanical gardens in the Caribbean.
The Gardens and Zoo are located on Old Hope Rd., which is about 30 minutes from the Norman Manley International Airport, and a few minutes drive from the University of the West Indies. The area is known for having some of the most productive soil in the country, but unfortunately, this area has been used for mostly residential and commercial development.
At the north end of the gardens, there is a large beautiful lake with a restored ancient bridge over it. This lake is filled with water lilies and other stunning water plants.
Just above that, there's a small amphitheater stage that hosts local cultural events. This stage has hosted Jamaican cultural greats such as Louise Bennett-Coverley and Damian ‘Jr. Gong' Marley, who performed there as a child.
Towards the center of the gardens, there is an interesting natural maze. The walls of this maze are made by shrubs that were planted and groomed into this puzzle design. As a child, I had endless fun trying to find my way out.
The northern end of the Gardens houses the Hope Zoo, which showcases a wide variety of local and foreign animals. The last I checked, there was easily 40 different types of animals, and the grounds were extremely well kept.
What should you carry?
- Comfortable walking shoes (a must)
- Bottled Water
- Picnic basket (optional)
A day trip to the Hope Botanical Gardens & Zoo is the perfect place to take the little ones in your family. Clear your schedule and dedicate the day if you'd like to experience it in its entirety.
Newly renovated bathroom facilities are available at the zoo, and water fountains are also available in various areas throughout the gardens.
For lunch, the Teahouse restaurant is on the property. They offer an eclectic menu that offers various delicious local seafood and vegetarian meals. The classic décor and tropical ambiance will make any meal a memory for a lifetime.
The Hope Botanical Gardens and Zoo will awe you with its natural beauty, relax you with its ambiance and inspire you with its history. No trip to Kingston is quite complete without visiting these lovely gardens.