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Jamaican Islands
Is Jamaica More Than One Island?

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monkey_island_jamaicaJamaican Islands | Monkey Islands Jamaica

by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer

You might have had the impression that Jamaica is only one island. Don’t worry about it too much, many people, including Jamaicans, are not even aware of this either. But the truth is, at least 28 islands (including mainland Jamaica), are in the Jamaican archipelago.


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Although most of them are inhabited by animals, they are islands nonetheless. Even these smaller islands that could hold none but 5 people are of great importance to the biodiversity of the Caribbean.

Many migrant birds, fish and sea mammals head to these islands during winter and make it their temporary home. but don't let the size trick you, they all hold.

Just how did these islands become territories of Jamaica?

Through the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Maritime Areas Act, our local laws established in 1991 and 1996 respectively, there is an imaginary boundary that extends 200 miles outward from mainland Jamaica which belongs to our country.

This archipelagic baseline is outlined from Morant Point, South Negril Point Southwest Rocky Point, the Pedro Cays, Blower Rock, Morant Cays, St Thomas, and finally back to Morant Point.

Navy Island, Booby Cays, Port Royal Cays, Pedro Cays, Cabarita Island, Morant Cays, the Goat Islands and Needles are just a few names of the many offshore lands that lie within our boundaries.

Here are 10 of the most well-known Jamaican Islands and what they are used for.

1. Pedro Bank

Pedro Bank was originally called La Vibora (the Viper) by the Spanish because the reefs, rocks and shoals loosely resemble a gigantic sea serpent. It is the first of two offshore island groups in the Jamaican Archapeligo, the second being the Morant Cays.

Being from St. Elizabeth, it isn’t uncommon for people to head out to Pedro Bank to fish a practice which started in the 1920s. Fishermen often head out to the banks for days or weeks before returning to Jamaica to sell their catch.

Before it was a fisherman's island, the Europeans used it as a shipping passage in the 17th century. The large bank of sand and coral is located 80km away from Jamaica.

The Pedro Bank is the largest harvesting ground for Queen Conch in the Caribbean.

2. Great Goat Island

Although well known now, it wasn’t until 2013 that most Jamaicans became aware of the Goat Islands. At that time, there were talks of making Goat Islands a logistics hub but there was pushback from Environmental societies to leave the island untouched to preserve its biodiversity.

However, all plans to create the logistics hub have been abandoned today. The Urban Development Corporation decided to establish the Goat Islands and the entire Portland Bight Protected Area as a wildlife sanctuary for endemic and endangered species.

3. Little Goat Island

Yes, it is a part of the Goat island chain of islands but, it is currently owned by the United States who entered a 99-year lease with the United Kingdom in 1940. It was once used as a seaplane base which we have now abandoned.

4. Sandals Cay

The Kokomo Island, or as it is known today as Sandals Cay, was uninhabited until it was purchased by Sandals Resorts International to build the Sandals Royal Caribbean’s private island. The private island now has the renowned Sandals Royal Caribbean Overwater bungalows, a restaurant, a bar, a swimming pool and a jacuzzi.

5. The Morant Cays

Off the coast of St. Thomas, about 51 kilometres from Morant Point you will find the Morant Cays. Morant Bank is the most notable island in the chain at 7 km long. Similarly to the Pedro Cays, it is mainly visited by fishermen, seabirds and nesting turtles.

Morant Cays have not always been a part of Jamaica, it was annexed from the United Kingdom in 1862 but did not become a part of Jamaica until 1882.
Guano and seabird eggs are often collected.

6. Pigeon Island

If you love snorkelling, then the powdery white sands of Pigeon Island have your name written on them. It has a very active ecosystem, with turtles, fish of all kinds and even sightings of the Blacktip Reef Shark.

The Royal Jamaica Yacht Club often heads over to Pigeon Island for beach lyme quite often.

Pigeon Island has two access points, Mitchell Town, Clarendon and Moores Pen, St Catherine.

7. Navy Island

Originally called Lynch’s Island, this island off the coast of Portland was once the playground of the rich and famous. Errol Flynn, who owned the Navy Island, and his friends, often made the star-studded guest list during the golden age of Hollywood.

The name “Navy Island” came from the Royal Navy using it as a gun battery at the eastern end to complement the fort built on Mainland Jamaica.

8. Emerald Island

The reefs of Emerald Island have been the home to many fish, turtles and crustaceans, a fisherman’s paradise. Anglers from all over the world head to Emerald Island for this same reason and it is known as one of the best fishing experiences in the Western Hemisphere.

Names of All The Islands Surrounding Jamaica

  1. Bajo Nuevo Bank
  2. Bare Bush Cay
  3. Big Half-Moon Cay
  4. Big Pelican Island
  5. Big Portland Cay
  6. Blake Cay
  7. Blower Rock
  8. Bogue Islands (Bog Islands)
  9. Bolt Cay
  10. Booby Cay
  11. Booby Cay - Negril
  12. Booby Cay - Pedro Cays
  13. Booby Cay - Morant Cays
  14. Bush Cay
  15. Bushy Cay
  16. Cabarita Island
  17. Careening Cay
  18. Christmas Island
  19. Dolphin Island
  20. Drunken Man's Cay
  21. East Crall
  22. Emerald Island
  23. Fort Island
  24. Gordon Cay
  25. Great Goat Island
  26. Green Cay
  27. Green Island
  28. Gun Cay
  29. Hogsty Cay
  30. Jamaica
  31. Lilyroot Cay
  32. Lime Cay
  33. Little Goat Island
  34. Little Half-Moon Cay
  35. Little Pelican Island
  36. Little Portland Cay
  37. Long Island
  38. Maiden Cay
  39. Man O' War Cays
  40. Mango Cay
  41. Mid Crall
  42. Middle Cay
  43. Morant Cays
  44. Morant Bank
  45. Navy Island
  46. Needles
  47. Northeast Cay - Morant Cays
  48. Northeast Cay - Pedro Cays
  49. One Tree Island
  50. Pedro Bank
  51. Pelican Cay
  52. Pellen Island (Pellew Island or Monkey Island)
  53. Pigeon Island
  54. Portland Rock
  55. Rackhams Cay
  56. Refuge Cay
  57. Rocky Cay
  58. Salt Island
  59. Sandbank Cay
  60. Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Offshore Island (Sandals Cay)
  61. Santamaria Island
  62. Sapphire Island
  63. Short Island
  64. South Cay
  65. Southeast Cay - Port Royal Cays (uninhabited)
  66. Southeast Cay - Morant Cays
  67. Southwest Cay - Pedro Cays
  68. Southwest Rock
  69. Tern Cay
  70. West Crall
  71. Woods Island

Now, there is, even more, to see and do on the islands of Jamaica!

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References & Sources For Jamaican Islands

  1. 9 reasons to discover Durban, South Africa (no date) Travel Channel. Available at: https://www.travelchannel.com/roam-blog/great-stays/durban (Accessed: October 5, 2022).
  2. Goat Islands to be declared a Wildlife Sanctuary (2017) News | Jamaica Gleaner. Available at: https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20171215/goat-islands-be-declared-wildlife-sanctuary (Accessed: October 5, 2022).
  3. List of islands of Jamaica (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_islands_of_Jamaica (Accessed: October 5, 2022).

Jamaican Islands | Written: October 4, 2022

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