By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
Most visitors flock to the well known Jamaica tourist hubs of Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios. But there’s even more magic to be found further east, in the coastal parish of Portland. Lush and peaceful, Portland is more than just its capital, the once-thriving banana town of Port Antonio. Today, despite being far off the beaten tourist track, it offers stunning natural beauty, singular experiences, and exceptional cuisine, all of which combine to make it well worth the trip. Here are seven reasons to visit Portland.
River Rafting Thank actor Errol Flynn for the magical experience of drifting down the Rio Grande on a slender bamboo raft – an activity formerly used to transport bananas from plantation to port, which he popularized back in the 1950s. Today, floating down the glassy waterway from Berrydale to Rafters’ Rest is an opportunity to see the island at its most beautiful.
Boston Jerk You can’t come to Portland without going to the town of Boston and sampling the uniquely Jamaican fiery fare. And while can’t go wrong with a quarter-pound of jerk pork or chicken at any of the smoke-filled roadside stalls, we’re partial to Little David’s.
Blue Lagoon Rumor has it that it’s bottomless, and we’ve even heard that there’s a dragon who lives in its depths. We can’t say whether either of those things is true but we can say that this swimming hole, fed by underground freshwater springs, is one of Jamaica’s most cinematically beautiful.
Trident Castle You have to see this quirky eight-bedroom castle, which sits on seven waterfront acres with its own helipad, pool and charming private chapel, to believe it. Better still, have your wedding at the distinctive venue in the village of Anchovy, and you can gawk at the photos
Monkey Island Kayak from San San beach to this sandy spot (also called Princess Island and Pellew Island) and enjoy tranquil sunning on its sandy shores and great snorkeling in the reef right off them.
Frenchman’s Cove When it comes to Jamaican beaches, few are more photogenic than this Porty shore, which is bordered on one side by lush gardens, on the other by warm clear water, and bisected by a refreshing river that runs between them.
Dickie’s Best Kept Secret You never know what will be on the menu at this quirky in-home restaurant precariously perched on a hillside as you enter Port Antonio. But you can be sure that the spread, prepped by the restaurant’s eccentric owner Dickie, will be both memorable and mouthwatering.