5 minutes reading time Jamaica
Welcome to Portland, Jamaica’s most salubrious parish, the playground of the rich and famous, the Hollywood film capital of Jamaica and home of authentic jerk meat, beautiful beaches and cascading waterfalls.
Portland is the cradle of tourism in Jamaica and boasts many world renown attractions. Among them are the famous Blue Lagoon, Boston Bay, the Errol Flynn Marina and Rafting on the Rio Grande.
Portland has had a long relationship with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Errol Flynn arrived in swashbuckler style when his yacht docked in Kingston during a storm in the 1940s and he never left. At the time, he was Hollywood’s leading romantic star who seduced many women with ease in his various heated scenes and movie roles. With similar ease, Flynn seduced numerous Hollywood stars to make Portland their get-a-way home and enticed many movie producers to this picture perfect spot.
Among the many film projects made in the town are the 1990 thriller, “Lord of the Flies”, “Club Paradise” (1980), Whoopi Goldberg’s “Clara’s heart” in 1998, “The Mighty Quinn (1989), Tom Cruise’s “Knight and Day” (2010) and James Bond “No Time to Die” to be released in November, 2020.
The local marina is named in Flynn’s honor.
Portland is fringed with postcard perfect beaches and interspersed with breathtaking waterfalls inland.
While other beaches like Winnifred and San-San are high on the to-do list, Frenchman’s Cove is among the most popular and earns itself a compulsory visit on your vacation.
Arched by tall primeval trees, the Cove provides a nest for indigenous birds. Pristine river water empties into the Caribbean Sea. On a good day, you can take a swim in the calming turquoise waters of the ocean; if the sea is rough, indicated by markers in the water, a plunge into the river from swings tied high up in the trees is equally exhilarating.
If surfing is on your bucket list, consider it done because Boston Bay beach and Long Bay Beach are the perfect spots to ride some waves.
Waterfalls are a plenty inland. Most nestled amongst exotic rain forests dotted along the Blue Mountains. Crystal clear water gushes from mineral rich rocks and endemic species of flora and fauna scatter the landscape. Along your journey, ensure you take a moment and allow the therapeutic waters to flow over your body as legend has it that our waterfalls have numerous healing properties. You may need to engage a local guide as the falls are deep inland.
Take a swim in the Blue Lagoon. A mixture of fresh and salt water 55m deep, originally called the “Blue Hole” but the success of Brooke Shield’s movie “ Blue Lagoon” (1980) which was filmed on location, the “Blue Hole” was permanently renamed the “Blue Lagoon”. For a minimal fee, you can take a tour of the Blue Lagoon and its surroundings by boat or if you are brave enough, you can join the many who have dared to take a plunge in the variegated emerald waters.
Rafting on the Rio Grande has long been one of the most admirable attractions in Portland. A licensed rafts captain will skillfully maneuver one of Jamaica’s longest rivers on a bamboo raft. The raft is about 5ft wide and 30ft long with an elevated love seat for the relaxation of its passengers, all made of bamboo. On your sojourn, it is not uncommon for the rafts-man to relate local folklore, identify local flora and fauna and even have a chat about their favorite reggae artiste or most popular politician.
After a long day of frolic at Frenchman’s Cove, exploring the uniqueness of the flora and fauna inland or being pounded beneath the cool waters at one of our many waterfalls, food is definitely the coup de gráce.
You would be banished into culinary exile if you visited Portland and not sample jerk. Authentically Portland, jerk is a process practiced by our Maroons to preserve meat, particularly pork, using a masterful mix of peppers, herbs, spices and pimentos to produce a distinct spicy taste, cooked over an open flame. Jerk is available across the island, but for the authentic taste, the folks at Boston Bay do it best!
Venture east of Port Antonio, 8 miles to be exact, Boston is a pocket -sized bay stuffed with lots of excitement and good food. As you approach the Bay, thick smoke can be seen rising in the distance, as you get closer, the aroma perpetuates your nostrils and your taste buds come alive with anticipation. You are not to be disappointed!
Boston is the home of jerk in Jamaica. What you will find here is a ‘strip mall’ of jerk eateries and bars. Succulent slabs of pork seasoned to perfection, cooked on trellises of pimento wood over an open fire, right in front your eyes. If you are not a pork eater, chicken and seafood are also available on the menu. An ice-cold Red Stripe lager beer easily extinguishes the fire lit in your mouth.
As you meander around Portland, be sure to sample the plethora of local cuisines available. I guarantee you will be craving more long after your vacation is over.
Some of the best small independent hotels in Jamaica can be found in Portland. From the luxurious Trident Villas nestled along 80 kilometers of shoreline to the rustic eco-friendly Great Huts resorts precariously perched on the edge of Boston Bay. A quick search will provide local accommodations that are priced to suit your budget.
Portland is Jamaica’s undisputed immaculate beauty. Errol Flynn referred to it as the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. Thankfully, it has not attracted the level of mass tourism like other areas in Jamaica. For the sun lust adventurer, Portland is one of the most captivating places on the island, excellent food, enchanting attractions and warm friendly people.
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