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Port Antonio

Port Antonio lures visitors with the promise of lazy, languorous days and a side of Jamaica that is true and authentic to the core.

“More beautiful than any woman I had ever known”— that was what Port Antonio was to Errol Flynn, a Hollywood legend and one of the city’s most famous residents. The sleepy town located just 60 miles from Kingston offers respite for many Kingstonians in search of peace. As the capital city of Portland Parish, Port Antonio is defined by a rich history of banana exports, river rafting and being known as the old stomping grounds for the glamorous Hollywood set of the 1940s. Today, it is embraced for its timeless and authentic Jamaican experience —one that still attracts the world’s jet-set crowd, but in a much more understated manner.

Back to Nature
There is something magical about waterfalls, and Port Antonio boasts two of the island’s most breathtaking. Reach Falls is located on Driver’s River and flows from the John Crow Mountains to form crystal-clear rock pools on its journey to the bottom. Its main pool was the location of that unforgettable waterfall scene in the movie Cocktail, with Tom Cruise.

Surrounded by legends and myths, Blue Lagoon is the island’s largest spring-fed lagoon, plunging to a depth of nearly 180 feet. And as ice-cold mountain spring water collides with the warm tidal currents, bathing in its depths is a mystical experience.

From Blue Lagoon, you can hire a knowledgeable river rafting captain for another Portie experience: rafting on the Rio Grande. Originally used as a method of transport for produce, especially bananas, Errol Flynn was the first to promote rafting for fun. Passengers aboard these bamboo rafts garner a unique view of the island, navigating through bamboo and banana groves. Tie up a couple bottles of wine or a case of beer to kick back and take in a river bath. You can even stop in at Belinda’s Riverside Canteen and enjoy great Jamaican fare right at the river’s edge.

Back on shore at the iconic Frenchman’s Cove, enjoy the unique merging of fresh river mineral spring water and the temperate ocean. For those looking for a “wilder” sea experience, head to Winnifred Beach and explore the reef just offshore, perfect for snorkelling. Shady trees, white sand and charismatic food vendors make this the perfect place to lounge all day. Heading east, Long Bay Beach offers one of the island’s longest uninterrupted stretches of breathtaking coastline, as well as rolling surf, perfect for surfers.

Top Attractions
From the shores to the mountains, the heights of Port Antonio open a window to the local Maroon history and culture. Maroons are descendants of escaped slaves who established free communities in the rugged mountains of the northern part of the island in the 17th century. Nanny, sometimes referred to as Queen Nanny, led the Maroons in the mountains of Portland for many years, managing the growing community and organising slave-freeing raids.

Her work eventually led to the 1739 peace treaty offered by the Jamaican governor that included 2,500 acres of land for her people. All Maroons fought hard to preserve their freedom and heritage, and self-governing Maroon settlements exist on the same land to this day. Travellers can get to know a little more about their vibrant story at the Charles Town Museum and Safu Yard. Maroon history, artefacts, traditional herbalism and musical performances are presented regularly.

Somerset Falls is also steeped in history. This 97-acre property encompasses lush gardens and “Hidden Falls” accessible by boat. Visitors traverse a windy path through a rich tropical landscape — which leads to deep rock pools and natural caves — before witnessing the Daniels River cascading into a 20-foot-deep pool.

 

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