The Goat Islands seem remote because you have to drive through narrow dirt roads and sugar cane fields to get there. It’s a scenic country drive once you get off the main drag.
The site has become a battleground of sorts because China Harbour Engineering plans to build a megaport on the islands, which are part of the Portland Bight. The land is uninhabited, except for iguanas that are considered endangered. Jamaica is badly in need of something to jump start economic growth, so the government has been loathe to say no to a big port project. But some locals, including fishermen, and environmentalists are not keen on having the pristine area transformed into something unrecognizable.
For now, the Goat Islands remain in their natural state, bordered by mangroves. It’s a great place to explore by kayak. Depending on where you paddle, you can find clearings that open up into internal bodies of water, and eventually a river.
When my husband and I drove back from our first kayak trip there, we stopped by a chill spot, what the locals call roadside bars, on the road through the agro fields towards Spanish Town. We drank Red Stripes and gazed out at the horizon, absorbing the discoveries and efforts of the day.
Illustration by Aileen Torres-Bennett