This weekend I decided that I just had to get out of the house. In truth, I’m what you’d call a “house rat” because I’m always at home. I’m not much of nightlife hard “partier” but what I do love is taking trips. Especially when that trip involves me being out in nature. The ocean, mountains or sometimes, a public green space in the city such as Hope Botanical Gardens is all need.
Hope Botanical Gardens is 200 acres of land located in the Ligunaea Plains of urban St Andrew. Now if you read my previous post about the “best places in Kingston Jamaica for outdoor fun”, you’d know a little about it. Hope Gardens as it’s called is a quiet green space in the Kingston Metropolitan area. It’s a favourite for many locals including families and anyone who wants to spend the day outdoors.
So my day started with me getting up 7:30a.m and immediately started doing some household work (couldn’t help myself). I wanted to leave at 11a.m but I ended up leaving at 12 noon. I left my house, walk right up the road and took a taxi that was going to Papine. I hit a snag when I got off the taxi too early (embarrassing to say the least) and ended up walking up to the main gate (see my tip below about the gates at Hope Gardens).
I walked in passed a line of cars paying for parking. I could hear birds chirping, it was a peaceful sound on a bright sunny day. Walking in, you’ll notice the different spots, there are benches, picnic seats and places to park your cars. There’s an inner gate that leads to the other section of the grounds where I decided to spend the day. The large trees, little ponds, families, couples, people reading, meditating and relaxing was a beautiful sight.
I have so many fond memories of school field trips there. Having picnics, roaming around the grounds with my friends pretending we were exploring an undiscovered place (channeling my inner Lara Croft). Even in our teen years, Hope Gardens was still a favourite place where we could meet as a group. This place is serene as it is beautiful.
How to get there
Getting to Hope Gardens is really easy. From Downtown Kingston, you can take a JUTC bus 77 or if you’re coming from Halfway Tree, you can take bus 900 both of which will take you to Papine. You could also charter a taxi through a taxi service that will take you directly there. Hope Gardens is right along the bus route so if you’re a tourist ask the drive to let you off at the main gate. There’s a bus stop right outside the main gate at Hope Gardens. This is the part I need to address (see above when I got off too early), there are two gates and you’ll pass the first one which is usually closed. The top gate is the one you enter through. There is parking available with a small fee for those who are driving.
What to do at Hope Gardens
Hope Gardens is natural oasis in Kingston and it’s a perfect place for anyone who loves nature or just wants some peace and quiet. Here’s a list things you can do there:
- Have a nice picnic– the most obvious thing on the list has to come first. Whether you’re bringing your own food or bought it at a restaurant close by (as many of us “Kingstonians” do), it’s a great place for a planned or impromptu picnic. The grounds are equipped with park benches and picnic tables for you to sit on. So if you didn’t bring anything to spread on the ground, it’s not a problem. Couples and groups enjoy Hope Gardens the most. It can be a really romantic serene place to take your significant others (guys pay attention now…) or a place to hang out with your friends.
- Outside sports– While I was there this weekend, I saw all different kind of games being played. There were children playing soccer and adults playing tennis. The grounds was so expansive that you could play games without disturbing other people there. So my advice is bring a ball, gather your friends, get up and go outside. Just be careful and be kind to the surroundings. We wouldn’t want to damage this gorgeous place now do we?
- Spiritual– Believe or not, when you come to Hope Gardens particularly during the weekends, you’ll find different religious groups. Some come to relax and meditate, others come for prayer meetings, bible studies and ministering. Because of the sheer size of the grounds, you can find all sort of activities happening all at once, none disturbing the other.
- Plan an event– I was lucky to witness a wedding photo-shoot happening there. And honestly, the bride and groom couldn’t have picked a better place. If you saw my youtube video of the tour around the grounds, who wouldn’t want such a beautiful background in their wedding pictures? I know I would! But the space has also been used for events such as music concerts, fashion shows and even cocktail parties. As long as the events won’t cause any discomfort to the surrounding community, it should be all good.
So as you can see, Hope Gardens is not only great for escaping into nature but can work for certain events you might have planned. So whether you live on the other side of the Island or another country, the next time you visit Kingston make Hope Gardens a must see on your list.