Runaway Bay, Jamaica is located on the north central coast of the island... and is only 10 miles (16 km) west of Ocho Rios and 5 miles (8 km) of Discovery Bay. This idyllic area owes its name to its historical importance as an escape route used by slaves fleeing to freedom.
The earliest modern day inhabitants of Runaway Bay were the Arawak Indians. Under the Spanish rule lasting for two centuries following the visit of Christopher Columbus on his 4th voyage to the New World, the Spaniards were gradually guilty of eliminating the peaceful Arawaks through overpowering them.
Since Jamaica never showed signs of having any gold to interest the Spaniards (although they had one settlement which served as the administrative center of the island) there is very little remaining demonstration of the Spanish rule of Jamaica. When the British decided they wanted to control the Caribbean, possession of Jamaica was not difficult to gain.
By the time the British forces wrested control of Jamaica from the Spanish, they had been in possession of the island for almost 150 years.
The entire area around Runaway Bay, Jamaica was inhabited by the African slaves which the Spanish brought in. The British expanded the slave trade even further in order to work the enormous plantations devoted to sugar production.
The white sand beach along Runaway Bay is probably the most beautiful in Jamaica... and the nearby Runaway Caves and Green Grotto Caves (with a lake over 120 ft. underground!) are areas of historical interest. It is believed that not only runaway slaves hid within the miles of caves, but retreating Spanish colonists fearful of the British forces taking over the island after 1655 hid there as well. More than likely pirates also used the area in and around Runaway Bay, Jamaica as a hiding place... and as a place to regroup before moving on to Cuba.
Britain gradually moved to make abolition of slavery a fact... particularly with the activities of Deacon Samuel Sharpe and his group of followers. Final abolition of slavery was completed in 1839... so the work on the plantations continued with the use of Indian indentured labourers.
The freed slaves left the area and relocated to free communities in the central part of Jamaica. However, with the elimination of the slave labour on the great sugar plantations, there was less dependence upon a single crop economy. Many of the ex-slaves acquired land (sometimes with the assistance of organizations in the United States, primarily the Baptists) and worked the small free-holdings, raising bananas as well as other subsistence crops.
Although Runaway Bay is a beautiful and exclusive resort area, there isn't an overcrowded feel... because the crowds aren't here... yet.
So, if your ideal vacation is to appreciate the beauty of seaside vistas over open water... deep green pools... and lush vegetation, this region of Jamaica's north coast is the obvious place to take advantage of a quiet and restful vacation experience.
(Pssst, here's a tip: Be sure to treat yourself to some of the best scuba diving and golf in the island when you visit Runaway Bay, Jamaica!)