Bath Mineral Spring and Botanical Garden are in Saint Thomas, Jamaica. The mineral spring is said to have healing properties, and people worldwide have been going there for over three hundred years, seeking a cure for their ailments. Tests by scientists support such claims; chemical analysis of the water shows a concentration of the elements in the table below.
|Elements in the water||Hot||Cold|
Bath Mineral Spring has healed people suffering from gout, rheumatism, fever, and skin diseases. However, scientists recommend that you soak for about 20 minutes and ingest some water to receive maximum benefit.
Bath Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden came about after wealthy settlers moved into the community about a half-mile from the spring. The garden started as a place for them to relax after a trip to the mineral bath.
It is the second oldest botanical garden in the western hemisphere and was a nursery for most plants introduced to Jamaica.
Who discovered Bath Mineral Spring?
According to folktales, a runaway slave named Jacob discovered Bath Mineral Spring. He suffered from bed ulcers on his legs. While hiding, he saw water gushing from a rock, forming a pool below. He liked it and returned for frequent soaks. His soars healed after some time; he was astonished.
Excited about his discovery, Jacob braved the wrath of his master, Colonel Stanton, returned, and reported the magical healing properties of the water.
What makes the Bath Mineral Spring hot?
Bath Mineral Spring gets hot because of geothermal heat—heat from the earth’s interior. In volcanic areas, water may come into contact with scorching rock heated by magma. Hot springs in active volcanic zones may produce superheated water so hot that immersion can result in injury or death.
In non-volcanic areas like Saint Thomas, Jamaica, the temperature of rocks within the earth also increases with depth. This temperature increase is known as the Geothermal Gradient.
Water percolates deeply into the crust, comes into contact with hot rocks, and circulates to the surface to form hot springs.
What to do at Bath
The most popular thing to do at Bath Mineral Spring is to soak or get a massage in the hot spring. However, some might feel uncomfortable having strangers touch their bodies. If you are one of those people, you can get a bath under one of the bamboo showers or go for a splash.
Explore the river and look for swimming holes. The water is crystal clear and inviting; finding suitable swimming spots might be challenging. Also, there is a contrast between the temperature of the spring and the river. While the mineral spring is almost scoring, the river is cold like ice.
When we last visited, groups of people were cooking and hanging out by the river. A guide told me that they party at the river even at night during moonshine.
Cost to visit
Bath Mineral Spring and Botanical Garden are free and open to the public. However, massage in the spring is not free. Cost depends on your negotiation skills. Local rates range from upwards of $3,000 JM and can cost foreigners up to $150 US.
Negotiate the cost for service before accepting. Locals will insist on you getting a massage while avoiding discussing the price. As a result, you might be surprised with a hefty bill at the end.
Bath Fountain Hotel and Spa
The Bath Fountain Hotel and Spa is the most convenient place to enjoy the healing waters of Bath Mineral Spring. This sixteen-room property is close to the spring. Huge pipes running from the spring deliver water to the baths at the hotel, which you can access once you book a room—price ranges from upwards of $5,500JM. This property has thirteen mineral baths consisting of eight Roman and five Jacuzzis, a gymnasium, a massage beauty parlor, and a restaurant.
How to get there?
Getting to Bath in Saint Thomas will take about two hours from Kingston if you use private transport. Not because it is far, but because of the road condition. It is only about 65km from Kingston.
Getting there by public transport will take a lot longer. Once you get to Marant Bay, Saint Thomas’s capital, you can go anywhere in the parish. However, getting to the mineral spring from Bath Village by public transport might be difficult even though it is about 2 kilometers away.
Bath Mineral Spring is easy to find. Google Maps will point you in the right direction, although it might show you the longer route, which might take you an extra five minutes to reach.
You might also lose your cellphone signal on the way to the mineral spring from Bath Village. However, nothing to worry about; staying on a straight path will get you to Bath Fountain Hotel and Spa.
My first visit to Bath Mineral Spring and Botanical Garden
Bath Mineral Spring and Botanical Garden have been on my bucket list for years, but I never got the chance to visit them. Until recently, I had no plans; it was just the spur of the moment.
Cooped up in the house for months because of the pandemic, I decided to explore Kingston as soon as the restrictions eased. Over the years, I have visited many attractions in Kingston, but not many since I started blogging. Then they were just places I went to with friends or family never saw them as tourist attractions or locations people would find interesting.
Hope Gardens, Emancipation Park, and Devon House are my favorite chill spots in Kingston; I have fond memories of these places. I have recently started to appreciate Port Royal, just outside Kingston, and the Waterfront Down Kingston. I want to check out Rockfort Mineral Bath because I haven’t been there in ages. Dip in the pool, and take a few photos to check out the property to include in my blog on tourist attractions in Kingston. But it was closed.
Not wanting to waste an opportunity to explore, I started thinking of options. So Bath Mineral Spring was a great choice.
The Journey from Kingston to Bath Saint Thomas
I have been to Saint Thomas several times and am familiar with the roller coaster-like road. The narrow streets, deep corners, potholes, and colossal sand trucks. Getting there felt like going to another country where the government neglected its responsibility. It was night and day compared to the north coast, south coast, Saint Catherine, and Kingston.
The main road looked like a farm road in the middle of nowhere. Drivers had to be constantly bobbing and weaving, trying to avoid creators. I was puzzled to see vehicles ahead of us moving in a snake-like manner instead of driving straight on what appeared to be a flat and paved surface.
When we got closer, we realized that it was all an illusion. Although the road surface appears paved and smooth up close, it is wave-like. Section raised and fell, which could have you airborne if driving fast.
If you are not used to the road and know how to pick the good sections, it is best to drive slowly.
From Harbour View to Bath Mineral Spring is about 65km; according to Google Maps, this journey takes over two hours.
Good news for future travelers to bath Mineral Spring
From Bull Bay in Saint Andrew to Albion in Saint Thomas, improvement is being made to the road network. So, the journey from Kingston Saint Thomas will be much better in a few months.
What I experienced and bath mineral spring
The five minutes walk from the road on the dirt track which runs along the riverbank can be difficult if you are unfit. I was surprised to see that the place was so underdeveloped. No official guide or sign was directing you—only one makeshift changing room, which only females use. No doors or privacy anyone above on the hillside could watch you change.
Many locals offered massages, using persuasive tactics to get you to accept and, simultaneously, refusing to discuss the cost of their service. I knew what they were trying to do, and it was a big turn-off. But, having trained in massage therapy, I realized some people did not know what they were doing.
The hot water from the spring was almost scorching; I enjoyed standing under the makeshift shower, which gives a good water massage. However, there was a contrast in the water temperature; while the hot spring was almost unbearable, sections of the river felt very cold.
Seeing people cooking food and just chilling by the river was a surprise. I thought people only went there for baths.
My experience at Bath Botanical Garden
Bath Botanical Garden, the oldest in the Western hemisphere, came about in 1779 to offer a place of relaxation for visitors to the Bath Mineral Spring. So naturally, I expected to see more at a site of such historical importance. The property is clean, but more is needed to improve the aesthetics of the property. For example, the perimeter fence is in desperate need of repair. Chickens from homes nearby homes roamed freely.
No one knows the name of the large trees with unusual fruits because they have no labels.
The pavilion on the property is an excellent place to chill, drink, and chat with friends. The enormous trees shade the entire property, almost blocking out the sun. Some trees seem to be a few hundred years old. Some I have never seen anywhere else on the island. I was surprised that the property was so small. I expected a vast site similar to Hope or Castleton Garden.
The ruins of an old stone building used to be a courthouse that fire destroyed.
Although Bath Botanical Garden is excellent, you dont get the same serenity as other gardens because of its size, proximity to the main road the homes close nearby.
This is what I learned from locals.
Talking with a few residents, I learned that Bath is a peaceful community, and crime is very low. However, there have been incidents at the mineral bath where valuables have gone missing. So visitors needed to be mindful.
Locals like the informal setting of the attraction; all attempts made the formalized things failed because they did not participate. There have even been offers of free training in therapeutic massage, but only a few persons turned up for instruction. So only a few persons are formally trained in massage therapy.
To get to prospective customers before the competition, they trail visitors from the town. Unfortunately, this practice scared many people away from the attraction. Some have even made reports at the Bath police station.
Tips for traveling to Bath Mineral Spring
If you plan to visit Bath Mineral Spring and get a massage in the hot spring, negotiate your price before starting.
At the turn of Bath Mineral Spring, you will encounter a person at the intersection asking for a ride to the spring. Depending on the time of day, there might be a large group. Dont be too alarmed if they seem overly aggressive. They are just locals trying to make a few bucks by offering their massage service. Do not stop to give anybody a ride; continue on your way.
Dont be alarmed if it seems like people are following you on bikes. Sometimes locals will ride behind vehicles going to the mineral spring to beat the competition.
The road to Bath Mineral Spring is narrow in most sections. It is difficult for two vehicles to pass each other. Therefore, drive carefully and blow your horns when going around corners.
Not everyone offering massage is trained or knows what they are doing. So be careful about whose service you accept.
There are no proper bathroom facilities or places to keep you valuable. Dress in simple clothing that is easy to change, and leave your valuables home.
Bath Mineral Spring and Botanical Garden is a favorite among locals. However, it is underdeveloped and not organized like attractions in other island sections. If you are looking for an authentic Island experience and benefit from the healing properties of the water is a great place to go. The Journey from Kingston is long and tiring, but you can also travel through Portland.
Locals can be overbearing, especially if you are not assertive and know what you want. Prices for massage are ridiculous and can cost the same for a night at the Bath Fountain Hotel and Spa, which offers privacy and convenience. If you dont want to feel hustled but want the authentic experience, bath under the makeshift shower and go for a swim. You can then book a few nights at the hotel, soak in the pool or jacuzzi, and get a massage.
This attraction is not for people looking for pampering but those who like to go off the beaten path. It is safe for solo travel, but it would be more fun if you travel in a group.