The first Port Antonio tourists arrived in the early 20th century seeking a respite from New York winters. In time, the area became fashionable among a fast-moving crowd that included Rudyard Kipling, William Randolph Hearst, and Bette Davis; today celebs such as Tom Cruise, Eddie Murphy, and Denzel Washington dodge the limelight with a getaway in this quiet haven. Although the action has moved elsewhere, the area can still weave a spell. Robin Moore wrote The French Connection here, and Broadway’s tall and talented Tommy Tune found inspiration for the musical Nine while being pampered at Trident.
Port Antonio is one of Jamaica’s quietest getaways, primarily preferred by long-staying Europeans. Even with the improvement of the North Coast Highway from Ocho Rios, tourism remains slow here. However, in 2013, Trident Castle reopened as part of the Geejam chain, which is expected to boost area tourism.
Port Antonio has also long been a center for some of the Caribbean’s finest deep-sea fishing. Dolphin (the delectable fish, not the lovable mammal) is the likely catch here, along with tuna, kingfish, and wahoo. In October the weeklong International Marlin Tournament attracts anglers from around the world. By the time they’ve all had their fill of beer, it’s the fish stories—rather than the fish—that carry the day.
POINTS OF INTEREST
On the Daniels River, these falls are in a veritable botanical garden. A concrete walk to the falls takes you past the ruins of a Spanish aqueduct and Genesis Falls before reaching Hidden Falls. 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. The bar and restaurant specializing in local seafood here is a great place to catch your breath.
This beautiful, petite, somewhat secluded beach is protected by two outcroppings, creating calm waters good for families. A small stream trickles into the cove. You’ll find a bar and restaurant serving fried chicken right on the beach. If this stretch of sand looks familiar, it might be because you’ve seen it in the movies: Club Paradise, Treasure Island (the 1990 TV-movie version), and The Mighty Quinn. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: partiers; sunrise; swimming.
This small beach has beautiful blue water. Monkey Island, just offshore, is a good place to snorkel (and, sometimes, surf). Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (no fee); toilets. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.
Considered the birthplace of jerk-style cooking, Boston Bay is the beach that some locals visit just to buy dinner. You can get peppery jerk pork at any of the shacks spewing scented smoke along the small beach, perfect for an after-lunch dip, though these waters are occasionally rough and much more popular for surfing. Amenities: food and drink; parking (no fee); toilets; showers. Best for: snorkeling; sunrise; surfing; windsurfing.
Jamaica’s river-rafting operations began here, on an 8-mile-long, swift, green waterway from Berrydale to Rafter’s Rest. (Beyond that, the Rio Grande flows into the Caribbean Sea at St. Margaret’s Bay.) The trip of about three hours is made on bamboo rafts pushed along by a guide who is likely to be quite a character. You can pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the raft or on the riverbank; wherever you lunch, a Red Stripe vendor is likely to appear. A restaurant, a bar, and several souvenir shops can be found at Rafter’s Rest.