The parish of Portland on Jamaica’s east coast is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places on the island. With its stunning blue waters, romantic coves, remote white sand beaches, breathtaking panoramic views and some of the best food on the island Portland has long been a favourite getaway spot for everyone from celebrities to couples on their honeymoon and families on vacation. With it’s rustic charm, waterfalls, and river rafting it is perfect for any nature lover and this is part of it’s allure.
There’s no shortage of activities you can do while vacationing in Portland. In addition to sailing, water-skiing, wind-surfing, sunbathing and swimming visitors may choose to take a bamboo raft tour, stopping off at a secluded beach along the way and all this can be done in just one day or over a number of days, the choice is yours. To help broaden the scope a bit more, here are our recommendations for 5 Things to Do in Portland, Jamaica:
Well renowned as “The Jerk Capital of Jamaica” Boston Bay in Portland Jamaica is not only a tantalizing treat for the taste buds it also appeals to sun worshipers and vacationers seeking to venture into the realm of water sports. The golden sands and rough waters will tempt you to grab a surfboard and ride the waves, take a lesson in wind surfing, or venture further out to some good snorkeling sites.
( via Varun Baker )
Boston Bay is close to Priestman’s River, so exploring the town is a convenient option and in fact most people come out for the food as well as the local interaction. Vacationers who are hoping for a taste of seclusion blended in with elements of local charm in Jamaica may find that Boston Bay is just the right spot. As the birthplace of Jerk food, Boston Bay is arguably the best place to sample all things Jerk in Jamaica and once a year hosts the Portland Jerk Festival, featuring live music, sideshows and hundreds of jerk food stalls. Roasted over Pimento leaves in large pits, jerk chicken or pork is cooked by each vendor with their own special jerk sauce recipe.
As well as offering a wide variety of Jerk options, Boston Bay is also well known as one of the best surfing spots in Jamaica. Boasting the longest history of surfing in Jamaica people have been riding the waves here since the 1960′s. On really big days one can surf pass the rock outcropping on the left, which has a stair case. The horseshoe-shaped bay works both ways depending on the swell direction and when it’s on you can ride the current back out to the line-up to conserve energy. The area is also great for body boarding and swimming too, not to mention simply getting a tan or just relaxing.
Portland’s capital Port Antonio, is snugly located between the Blue Mountains and the Caribbean Sea. The area is still, thankfully considered relatively virgin territory and Frenchman’s Cove is a perfectly secluded spot that will make you fall in love with the water instantly. One of the most beautiful beaches in The Caribbean, let alone Jamaica this white-sanded shore, set against a magnificent backdrop of exotic tropical gardens and crystal-clear mountain streams, is so idyllic; it’s no wonder it was featured in the major motion pictures Club Paradise and Treasure Island.
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Frenchman’s Cove is tucked between two rocky bluffs and consists of a lagoon which meanders around a bar of sand from one direction while the sea barrels in from the other, pinched between two tiny headlands that are overhung with greenery – giving the beach a luminous green light. Visitors pay a small fee for entry but it is well worth it. You enter through some lush gardens, which then open up into a gorgeous little secluded beach cove. It also has a fresh water river flowing into the beach. Lots of fish in the river, as well as a rope and swing for the kids to play with. There’s also a jerk hut on the beach with drinks and food made to order, as well very clean bathrooms.
There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as the water where the river meets the sea and Frenchman’s Cove is where you’ll find this feeling. It’s combination beauty, tranquility and seclusion makes it a popular destination for weddings, honeymoons, vacations, and retreats.
Somerset Falls in Hope Bay, about 10 miles west of Port Antonio is an ideal getaway for a memorable picnic in paradise. This beautiful secluded waterfall is hidden in the rainforest, where the Daniels River plunges down a narrow gorge. Running through a former indigo and spice plantation and set amongst a scenic backdrop of woodland and rocks. Here you’re invited to close your eyes and relax as refreshing water cascades from above to form nature’s perfect Jacuzzi and provide the ultimate hydrotherapy massage. Choose a spot on the upper level of the river for the best view of the falls.
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Once an old sugar plantation that extended from the mountains to the sea, today Somerset is a 97-acre property with a breathtaking garden, complete with ponds and waterfalls. Overflowing with crotons, bamboos, ferns, cocoa plants, indigo and moss-covered trees (to name only a few), the garden grows on the banks of the Daniel River. A concrete walk to the falls takes you pass the ruins of a Spanish aqueduct and Genesis Falls before reaching Hidden Falls. Along the way, small waterfalls trickle down the bushy hillsides and shady benches, where visitors enjoy a moment of tranquility.
At Hidden Falls, you board a boat and travel beneath the tumbling water; more daring travelers can swim in a whirlpool or jump off the falls into a pool of water while visiting the caves. Spend the day sunning, relaxing and bathing and diving in picture-perfect 20-foot deep rock pools, or chill out at the seaside/riverside restaurant and bar. With a fantastic collection of exotic birds and many tropical plants Somerset Falls is also a perfect location for weddings, and family or group events. Enjoy a meal of fine seafood or spicy jerk pork at the Garden Restaurant or a cocktail at the Rhythm and Booze bar, which on Sundays livens up with classic Reggae, dominoes and dancing.
The Blue Mountains
The world famous Blue Mountains in Jamaica get their distinctive, almost hypnotic shade of blue from being so far above sea level that they are almost perpetually cushioned in mist sometimes so heavy one feels as though stepping out into a dream.
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The Blue Mountain range sprawls across the eastern portion of the island for a length of 28 miles and an average width of about 12 miles. They rise steeply in an area so compact that it is possible to drive from the coastal plains to its elevation of over 7,000 feet in less than an hour. A majestic and beautiful environment, home to many indigenous flora and fauna, The Blue Mountains are one of the most popular regions for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Did we mention it’s also the home of the World’s Finest Coffee?
Camping in Jamaica allows visitors to observe nature closely. The camping and hiking tours offer a scope of being in close proximity to the beauties of the surroundings. These diverse mountain forests have more than 800 species of endemic plants, the world’s second largest butterfly, Papilo homerus, 200 species of resident and migrant birds and is one of the largest migratory bird habitats in the Caribbean. There are also more than 500 species of flowering plants of which almost one half are native to Jamaica. Of these, the most interesting is perhaps the Jamaican bamboo, Chusquea abietifolia, that flowers only once every 33 years. The next flowering will take place in 2017.
Campgrounds are found in areas supervised by the Jamaican Forestry Department. Cabins and dormitories account for most of the accommodations in the Blue Mountains, but few supplies are available at forest camps. A day trip to the Blue Mountains is easily arranged through the travel desk of any hotel. However, some planning is required for those wanting to spend more than a day as arrangements must be made in advance. Be sure to use a guide, it is not safe to hike on your own.
San San Beach
Located just outside of Port Antonio, San San Beach is one of the most famous stretches of pure white sand in all of Jamaica. With approximately 1½ miles of sand this is a private beach with offshore reefs and warm, shallow waters (which are ideal for snorkelling and windsurfing in winter) a small daily entrance fee allows you to swim, relax and chill out on the shore while enjoying the beauty of the turquoise water before you. Vacationers who are hoping for a taste of seclusion in Jamaica will definitely love this spot since it is rarely ever crowded.
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You can choose to spend your day picnicking on the beach or buy cold drinks at the mini bar and simply soaking up the sun on the sand. But if you’re in the mood for a little more activity it is easy to book a fishing, scuba diving, or windsurfing adventure with the people who work there. One of the biggest scuba diving reefs is near San San Beach for experienced and adventurous scuba divers, while smaller reefs perfect for snorkeling are just off the coast. This is the beach to go to if you want to explore the local marine life. Rent equipment or book fishing expeditions here and check out the lunch bar for a snack or island cocktail.
The beach also has lifeguards and showers and in the winter, waves washing ashore make this one of the best places along the northeast coast for windsurfing. From San San Beach one also has a perfect view of Peelu/Monkey Island. This tiny islet is perfect for snorkeling and there’s almost a guarantee that on your visit you’ll be the only ones there. A great place to go to if you want to feel like you are on your own private island. Many visitors swim to the islet from San San Beach, others rent a kayak from the beach and sail across; if you try it, watch for spiny sea urchins as you step ashore.
San San Beach is the perfect, laid back spot for a family vacation, romantic getaway, or just to relax. The waters are shallow so it’s great for kids and there are people available to facilitate just about any other beach activity you may feel inclined to try.
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