Unlike other Caribbean islands and overpopulated, all-inclusive attractions, Portland’s beaches are generally secluded, unspoiled getaways defined by their unique character and pristine beauty. Whether it’s enjoying the untouched glamour of Frenchman’s Cove, the local energy at Winnifred Beach or the rejuvenating waters of Long Bay, Portland is a self-made mecca of natural attractions that resonate with the history and cloistered elegance of the area. There is also the stunning Scatter and Reach waterfalls and bamboo rafting down the Rio Grande River, an excursion made famous by swashbuckling screen star Errol Flynn during his Hollywood prime.
- Long Bay
- Boston Bay
- Frenchman’s Cove
- San San
One of the more coveted outings in Port Antonio is a rafting tour down the gently winding Rio Grande. The river is the birthplace and bedrock of Jamaican rafting that was originally used as a means of transporting banana crops from the local plantations to Port Antonio’s bustling harbor. Once the banana boom dwindled, the rafting tours became a popular leisure activity championed by the likes of Hollywood scion Errol Flynn. Legend has it that Flynn enjoyed gathering his well-heeled guests for midnight excursions under a canopy of stars. Experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the river and its ecosystem, including a bird sanctuary that is equal parts natural wonder and serene escape, now man the bamboo-crafted vessels. Guests may also stop off at Belinda’s Riverside Canteen for an authentic, freshly prepared Jamaican meal that can be enjoyed right on the river’s edge. Swimming in the river is perhaps the best part of the journey.
The natural world at its modern-day best, Reach Falls is ranked as one of Jamaica’s more exceptionally situated waterfalls. Located on Driver’s River, the falls are sheltered by virgin rain forest and accentuated by crystal clear rock pools, lovely bamboo stands and draping vines. Flowing from the John Crow Mountains, the falls form their own self-contained ecological sanctuary. Reach Falls has been the location for more than one Hollywood film, not the least of which was Roger Donaldson’s 1988 popular film Cocktail starring Tom Cruise.
is forest-shrouded oasis is as steeped in history as it is in unique and unsurpassed beauty. Situated on a former indigo and spice plantation, the site was home to Spanish settlers and still has relics of many of the original aqueducts, some dating back nearly 400 years. Cloistered by the rainforest, the falls are offset by luxurious deep rock pools, dramatic natural caves and stunning rock formations. Once at the top, there is also a cave with ‘hidden falls’ that may be visited by boat. The highlight, of course, is the beautifully cascading Daniels River. An array of exotic birds and wildlife form the backdrop to the Rhythm & Booze bar and Fusion on the Falls restaurant. There is also a Jerk Pit offering some of Portland’s best chicken and pork recipes as well as a swim-up bar where guests can order a poolside cocktail. Riverside cottages are available for extended excursions. Somerset Falls is ideal for hosting special occasions including weddings, group outings and live entertainment. Its recently opened Likkle Portie, located just across the road, is a great place where guests may enjoy seaside dining, horseback riding, river rafting and a unique black sand beach.