Jamaica’s moniker is ‘land of wood of water.’ There are several naturally occurring mineral springs and a few of them are heated with the just the right mix of mineral deposits that offer therapeutic properties. While soaking in a hot spring is relaxing; locals also flock to their favorite watering hole to soak away aches and ailments. For thousands of years, the Japanese and Europeans have used hot springs as a medical treatment option. Jamaicans do the same and extol the many healing properties of these healing waters. The health benefits of hot springs are relief from arthritis, fibromyalgia, insomnia, high blood pressure and skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis.
Windsor Mineral Spring – Firewater
Located in St. Ann, the Windsor Mineral Spring (commonly known as “Fire Water”) is a small pool of water with a surprising quality; the water can catch fire. The high concentration of sulfur is believed to be the cause.
Slaves from surrounding plantations used the pond to bathe and to address their medical issues. Legend has it that Windsor’s flammable properties were discovered some 80 years ago when Mehala Smith attempted to bathe in the water. There was a wasp nest nearby and she was troubled by the buzzing insects. Smith tried to burn the wasp nest and the torch fell out of her hands and ignited the water. She ran home screaming and convinced that duppies(ghosts) were in the water. Now called Granny May, Mehala is over 100 years old and continues to bathe in the pond regularly.
The community of Windsor is hard to get to and way off the beaten path. There are no signs, but residents on the St. Ann Bay main road can provide directions to an innocuous dirt road that leads to Windsor. Once you arrive, you’ll be ushered to a bamboo and blue tarpaulin enclosure, which is shielded for privacy.
Be sure to negotiate a price before entering. Once inside, your guide will set the water on fire, let you walk through the flaming water and soak. The pool is about the size of a small jacuzzi. Fire massages are available, where you lie down and cover yourself with a towel that has been soaked in the sulphuric water.
Finally, the guides show how they cook food in a pot on a stand over the flames.
Rockfort Mineral Bath
Rockfort Mineral Baths have been providing respite from Kingston’s urban environment since 1907. The fort was constructed in 1694 by the British to defend against a rumoured attack from the French. These baths are fed by a spring that appeared following an earthquake.
Located on the outskirts of Kingston at the foot of Long Mountain, the mineral springs contain sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and copper that give it therapeutic value and alter the water to have a salty and bitter taste. The temperature is lukewarm.
Patrons are allowed 45 minutes at a time in the large swimming pool and the eleven private baths to avoid overexposure to the minerals. The waters are slightly radioactive.
Since the renovation, there are adequate changing rooms, bathrooms and a cafeteria on the premises.