Port Antonio: Jamaica’s Hidden Gem
Looking for an island getaway, and considering a retreat to Jamaica? Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios are great, but why not try something different? Jamaica’s resort town of Port Antonio is described as picture perfect— a panorama of nature’s finest work.
On any visit, travelers to this secluded gem can explore the majestic Blue Mountains, swim in the Blue Lagoon, raft the Rio Grande, relax at Somerset Falls or discover Nonsuch Caves. A visit to Port Antonio would be incomplete without a sampling of its world famous jerk chicken or pork in its original home.
“Visitors to Port Antonio are always in for a special treat with its diverse and laidback offerings of adventure and natural beauty,” said Paul Pennicook, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism. “With more travelers seeking authentic local lifestyles, Port Antonio, the birthplace of jerk cooking, is a great option for those wanting to experience the best of Jamaica’s cuisine, history and adventure.”
Blue Mountain Bicycle Tour: A remarkable way to see the island, this riding tour takes sightseers down the mountainside and along rolling hills. Ideal for singles, couples or families who wish to experience and photograph the world-famous Jamaican Blue Mountains and lush, tropical countryside – all while riding in the fresh Jamaican air.
Rio Grande Rafting: One of the more coveted outings in Port Antonio is a bamboo rafting tour down the gently winding Rio Grande. Originally used as a means of transporting banana crops from the local plantations to the bustling harbor, the rafting tours are now a popular leisure activity once championed by the likes of Hollywood icon Errol Flynn. Legend has it that Flynn enjoyed gathering his well-heeled guests for midnight rafting excursions under a canopy of stars. Experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the river and its ecosystem, including a bird sanctuary (parts natural wonder and serene escape), man the bamboo rafts. Swimming in the river is perhaps the best part of the journey.
Somerset Falls: Somerset Falls is a world class setting for guests to chill out, take a swim and refresh. Spanish settlers, who occupied the island over 400 years ago, built aqueducts and dams that are still visible today. The breathtaking waterfall is hidden in the rainforest, where the Daniels River cascades down a narrow gorge of lush ferns. Here, sun worshipers can settle in for a lovely day of sunning, relaxing and bathing in picture-perfect deep rock pools.
Port Antonio thrives on its seclusion, intimacy and luxury, offering visitors an array of inns, beachfront cottages and villas, such as:
Great Huts, starting at US$89 per night including breakfast: www.greathuts.com.
Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, starting at US$236 per night including taxes: www.hotelmockingbirdhill.com.
Goblin Hill Villas, which ranges from US381 to $450 per night, for a 2 bedroom villa, including a housekeeper: www.goblinhill.com.
Trident Hotel, which ranges from US$540 to $990 per night including breakfast, depending on the season: www.geejamcollection.com.
Jamaica’s diverse history has impacted its culinary offering. The cuisine features a mix of cultural influences – Chinese, European, Indian and African – creating an eclectic and tasty combination that is uniquely Jamaican. Port Antonio is well known for its jerk pork and chicken, particularly in Boston Bay, but a number of the area’s inns and villas are known for their gourmet dining. There are a variety of restaurants which provide excellent Jamaican staples including fresh seafood. Some of the popular spots include Dickie’s Best-Kept Secret and Bryan’s Bay for local fare, Restaurant Mille Fleurs, at Hotel Mocking Bird Hill for eclectic Euro-Caribbean cuisine, Woody’s Low Bridge Place and Anna Bananas for a fun family atmosphere or Bushbar at Geejam Hotel for sophisticated Asian-influenced Jamaican cuisine.