9 unique Portland tips
Portland with its capital Port Antonio is a unique base for a trip to Caribbean Jamaica. It has several beautiful bays, authentic villages and the Blue Mountains within reach. If you want to get away from the more touristy places like Ocho Rios and Negril, Portland is a must visit during your stay in Jamaica.
Surf, snorkel and chill on the beach, eat delicious Jerk chicken, cool off in rivers and enjoy waterfalls, explore farmland and visit Maroon town. Portland has it all.
Explore Jamaica in an authentic, natural way with tour guide Rappa Rasta and read all about it here.
Nederlandse versie hier
1. Admire historic Port Antonio
Port Antonio is Portland’s ‘laid back’ capital; the first place in Jamaica where tourists settled. Around 1880 banana exports were at their peak and departing boats full of bananas returned with tourists. They stayed on the Titchfield peninsula where you can still admire hotels in Georgian and Victorian style.
Eat yammie ice cream at the famous Devon House ‘I-scream’ at the marina, west of the Titchfield Peninsula and enjoy the view over Navy Island. Walk past the ruins of Folly Estate after admiring the Folly Point Lighthouse, built in 1888.
Visit the nearby arts and crafts market before ending the day with delicious local food. Ask Rappa about the possibilities for a farm tour or chill in the hills of Port Antonio at the farm bar.
DeMontevin Lodge Port Antonio – Portland
In 1923 ‘Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother’ stayed at DeMontevin. Queen Elizabeth II visited in 1953 and 1966. A lot of the famous and rich spent time at this Victorian stijle hotel.
2. Unwind on one of Portland’s 5 gorgeous beaches
Dream away at Frenchman’s Cove
Romance at its best in Frenchman’s Cove, a circular bay surrounded by jungle. White, fine sand with palm trees and clear, cool, turquoise water make the Caribbean dream of Jamaica. This quiet and secluded beach is part of the resort, so for about 15 usd you get access to this photogenic paradise.
Snorkel the reef at San San Beach
Snorkel the reef, rent a kayak or swim to Pellew Island (Monkey Island) at San San Beach. This beach is mainly visited by the wealthy residents of the area and tourists from the nearby expensive hotels. However, it’s a quiet beach, fully equipped and for which an entrance fee is charged. You will therefore not easily encounter locals, but it’s a wonderful spot for snorkeling.
Swimming in the Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon, famous for the 1980 movie of the same name starring actress Brooke Shields, reopened not too long ago (Summer 2023). It certainly is a beautiful lagoon to swim in or take a trip on a bamboo raft. Life jackets are now mandatory.
In the 55 meter deep lagoon, the warm water of the Caribbean Sea meets the cool water of underground freshwater springs. This gives the Blue Lagoon its special color that changes from turquoise to deep blue.
The local look & feel of Winnifred Beach – Portland
Walking from the main road you descend via a narrow path to the beach. Easier is the detour over the asphalt road that takes you directly to the beach. Make a small contribution towards parking at one of Jamaica’s last public beaches, where everyone is welcome. Acordingly it’s the charm of the beach.
There are eateries and bars and the atmosphere is really chill. The locals keep the beach clean; therefor a tip is appreciated.
Surf the waves of Boston Beach
One of the most beautiful bays along the coast in Portland is the turquoise, bowl-shaped bay of Boston Beach. White soft sand where rocks embellish the bay. The waves are usually high enough for surfing. Here you will meet locals who enjoy the game just like you. Rent a board or take surfing lessons. If the waves are not high enough, the ultimate alternative is to eat Jerk chicken which is just around the corner.
3. Visit Maroon village & Nanni Falls
Following the river through mountainous terrain, you will arrive at Maroon Village ‘Moore Town’; the village with a prettily museum. You may come across the village’s ‘Colonel’, who is happy to talk about the village’s history and future.
We will put you in touch with a Rasta farmer who can show you, feel and smell everything that grows and blooms in the hills.
After some scrambling and climbing there is the unique reward of Nanni Falls. Hidden in the hills, this waterfall splashes from a great height into a pool where you can cool off and enjoy nature at its best.
4. Sail to Somerset Falls – Hope Bay
Hidden in the rainforest are the non-touristy Somerset Falls. Here the Daniel River plunges down from a height of 10 m. You reach this waterfall by boat through jade-colored caves.
Be sure to bring your swimsuit and cameras for breathtaking photos and videos. At the entrance is a bar and restaurant, but the waterfall itself is secluded in nature: unspoiled.
5. Chillen on the Rio Grande bamboo raft
Go with the flow on the Rio Grande bamboo raft in Portland and enjoy the views during the 2 – 2.5 hour raft. Jump in the river for a swim and stop for a delicious local dish from Belinda’s restaurant. Rappa drops you off at the starting point and picks you up at the finish.
6. Endless time at Long Bay
Long Bay is a mile-long beach in a laid-back environment that attracts backpackers and bohemians. You will not find resorts but guesthouses booked by nature lovers. There are several restaurants, bars and a library. The current is strong so be careful when you take a dip.
7. Eat fish in Manchioneal
The fishing village of Manchioneal on the far east side of Jamaica is worth a visit for at least 3 reasons:
- Enjoy the waves crashing against the cliffs at Turtle Bay Cove. The amazing rock plateau overlooks the Blue Mountains and is home to a magnificent bay. Descend a bit and swim in this crystal clear, light green – turquoise water.
Cousin Popson lives around the corner and is happy to show you this special environment. However, this ‘off the beaten track’ paradise has also been privatized and access will have to be requested.
Don’t confuse Turtle Bay Cove with Turtle Beach, which is just a bit more in the direction of Saint Thomas. A still undiscovered, free-to-go, paradise beach.
Eating fish in the fishing port on the edge of the village at a local restaurant or who knows, ‘yard cooking’ can take place at Cousin Popson. In any case, it is nice to taste the atmosphere of the fishing village.
- Cool off at Reach River and spend time as locals do: chilling, talking, listening to music and drinking rum. Visiting Reach River Falls is of course also an option. The river splashes over a large rock in a pool. Hike upstream through the Driver’s River with a guide and visit the underwater cave.
8. Hiking to Blue Mountain peak
Climb the top, or rather; walk in about three hours (from Whitfield Hall) to the highest peak of the Blue Mountains (2256m). In this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you pass through all kinds of vegetation and of the ferns alone there are hundreds of species.
Sometimes you’ll have a beautiful view and another time you will end up in the fog, which then gives off a blue glow, hence the name Blue Mountains.
Sleep in cozy rooms or in bunckbeds at the still working, old coffee plantation, where they serve delicouse food for dinner and breakfast. Depart early morning for the sun rise at the peak. You realy don’t want to miss this!
Whitfiled Hall is only accessible by 4WD. This special location is the closest to the top, in addition the food is super good, which is why Rappa Rasta Tours choose for this favorite stop-over.
9. Explore Holywell National Park in the Blue Mountains
Stay overnight in a cabin at Holywell NP in the Blue and John Crown Mountains. Enjoy the fantastic view over Kingston. Hike on narrow marked paths through the jungle and past coffee bushes. Then cook your own meal or eat at the unique Eits Café (Seven Mile Post), open on requests also for lunch.
Holywell is located on the highest part between the north and south coasts of Jamaica. Are you from Kingston? Then head through the mountains, past coffee plantations, villages and waterfalls towards Buff Bay – Port Antonio. On our 10 day tour we pass Holywell NP.
Contact us for bookings.
Are you traveling to Jamaica? Use natural sunscreen that does damage the reef nor yourself. Anti-mosquito spray (mosquito repellent) is in Jamaica for sale on a natural basis. Have you been stung? Make sure you have Tea Tree Oil with you, add a drop on the bite as soon as possible. This way you prevent intense itching while bumps disappear quickly. Sun burnt? Aloe vera (single bible) cools and restores the skin.