Port Antonio and the East Coast


The parishes of Portland and St. Thomas form Jamaica’s easternmost region and contain the island’s least exploited natural treasures. A quiet town in the center of Portland’s coast affectionately known as "Portie," Port Antonio boasts some of Jamaica’s most secluded beaches among a handful of other stunning natural wonders.

The world-famous Blue Hole, or Blue Lagoon, where ice-cold spring water mixes with the warm waves lapping in from the sea, is surreal beyond measure and reason in itself to visit the region.

Navy Island, an abandoned little paradise in the middle of Port Antonio's twin harbors, is surrounded by coral reefs and sand bars. Steep, lush hills rise from a coastline dotted with beaches, inlets, and mangroves. Reach Falls is a nature lover's paradise, where local guides take visitors by the hand along trails that only they can see through the middle of the river. In Bath, natural hot springs have a mineral composition that is said to cure almost any ailment. When one of these destinations occupies top priority on your daily agenda, life just seems to flow at the right speed. Perhaps the languid pace of this side of the island is just meant to be, and as a visitor you won't be sorry for the lack of crowds.

Located about 65 kilometers from Morant Bay around the eastern flank of the John Crow Mountains and about 95 kilometers east of Port Maria, Port Antonio is the largest town in Portland, and the parish capital. The fact that the area attracts only a minute fraction of the three million or so visitors Jamaica gets each year is either the way it should be, or a crying shame, depending on whom you ask. Those who depend on the tourist trade complain the area is not marketed to its potential, while it is said those who own the area's most extravagant private homes prefer it just the way it is.


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Folly Mansion

Just east of Port Antonio along Alan Avenue, a left onto a dirt road before the cricket pitch follows the edge of East Harbour out to Folly Point Lighthouse. A right turn after the cricket pitch along a grassy vehicle track through low-lying scrub forest leads to Folly Mansion, which is an unmanaged attraction (free and always accessible) on government-owned land. Folly was for a few years after its construction the most ostentatious building in Jamaica, before it started to crumble.

In: Attractions

Blue Hole

Blue Hole is also commonly known as the Blue Lagoon thanks to a 1980 Randal Kleiser adventure film of the same name starring a teenage Brooke Shields. This Blue Lagoon has no relation to the film, though locals will make the connection erroneously. Portland’s Blue Hole is Jamaica’s largest underground spring-fed lagoon, of which there are many smaller ones scattered across the island.

In: Attractions

Winnifred Beach

Winnifred, known as the people’s beach, lies in a wide, shallow, white-sand cove. It is a beautiful, free public beach in the Fairy Hill district just east of San San and the Blue Lagoon. It’s also the best place for conch soup and fried fish. Food and beverages are sold by a slew of vendors, and there’s a nice restaurant.

In: Attractions

Errol Flynn Marina

Errol Flynn Marina (8 a.m.5 p.m daily) has slips for 32 boats. Vessels under 50 feet are charged US$0.75 per foot per day, over 50 feet US$1.25 per foot per day; electricity and water are also available at metered rates (US$0.24/kWhr for electricity and US$0.09/gallon of water). A well-laid-out and planted promenade along the waterfront has benches. Wireless Internet is included for marina guests, and there is an Internet cafè open to nonguests (US$4/hour).

In: Attractions