When: February is a hot and happening time to visit Jamaica
Happenings: Bamboo rafting, deep sea fishing & colonial sites.
Famed for: Celeb hang out, beautiful women and exotic movie set
Remember to bring: Shades, to stay cool and create that allure of fame
Where it’s at
Three hours east of Montego Bay in the parish of Portland is Port Antonio. Nestled between twin harbours on the island’s northeast curve, where mist-shrouded mountains drop down to the sea, Port Antonio more than lives up to its reputation as the ‘most exquisite port on earth.’ The rugged coastline and mountains provide hidden coves and secluded beaches that also make it the most romantic setting in Jamaica.
History of Port Antonio
Founded in 1723, Port Antonio was Jamaica’s most important centre for banana growth and export in the late 1800s. Orchids, bananas and palm trees grow in profusion. Waterfalls drop into fern-edged pools, and some of the island’s most elegant villas and charming small hotels are tucked into hillsides overlooking secluded azure coves, which used to be a haven for pirates.
One of the island’s first hotels was built here in 1905, international celebrities, such as the likes of Errol Flynn, Ian Flemming and Noel Coward, described Port Antonio as ‘heaven on earth,’ a description echoed by subsequent visitors who have found this ‘Island Eden’ to be the ultimate vacation destination.
You may recognise much of the scenery of Port Antonio, as the area has been the site for dozens of movies over the years. Engulfed by greenery and frequented by birds and butterflies, is the aptly-named ‘Blue Lagoon,’ a shimmering blue hole with its vivid blue and emerald green waters is said to be nearly 200 feet deep, is where parts of the movie of the same name were filmed.
Visiting Port Antionio today
Even today, Port Antonio’s unrivalled beauty makes it popular for movies and fashion shoots, while its resorts & villas continue to provide inspiration for celebrities, writers & royalty. Port Antonio is a panorama of nature’s finest work and Errol Flynn is to have said that ‘this place was more beautiful than any woman he’d ever seen.’ Others say it is simply enchanting.
From the Romanesque ruins of the Folly, a mansion unwisely built of concrete and seawater, toFort George, an 18th-century British stronghold whose cannons still point out to sea, the past is only a heartbeat away in Port Antonio.
The town of Port Antonio is much the same today as it was at the turn of the century. You will find no high rises of any kind here, although you will find some truly spectacular resorts including the Jamaica Palace Hotel and Trident Villas. One of the sites worth visiting is ‘Navy Island, once the secret hideaway of Errol Flynn and renowned for wild Hollywood parties. The island is set between Port Antonio’s two harbours and reached by ferry. It is now slated for upscale development, and is also a favourite for picnics and daytrips.
Bamboo raft rides down the Rio Grande River or a dip in the refreshing pool at the base ofSummerset Falls is other popular activities. Basking on the smooth sand of Frenchman’s Cove where the brilliantly coloured waters range from jade, emerald & turquoise to deep blue or any of Port Antonio’s idyllic beaches could be the best choice of all, unless fishing is a passion.
Port Antonio has some of the best deep-sea fishing in Jamaica, with marlin, tuna, kingfishand dolphin in abundance, and hosts the annual international Marlin Tournament in October. Other activities include Camping, Sailing, Waterfall Climbing and Snorkelling; not to mention the ultimate nightlife experience, Club Tiffany, Lexus.
San San Golf Club
9 hole golf course cooled by sea breezes, 5 miles east of Port Antonio.
San San Beach
Approx 1½ miles of pure white sand. Calm shallow waters suitable for children. Check out ‘Beach Café.’
Located near ‘Hope Bay,’ west of Port Antonio. Daniels River cascades through a rocky gorge in to a pool surrounded by a tropical rainforest.
The ultimate rafting experience, with a scenic two hour trip.
main image: c/o Blue Lagoon – Chaoleonard – creative commons