The Top 10 Remarkable Attractions of Portland, Jamaica (Pt 1)
Have you ever been to Portland, Jamaica, one of the most beautiful parishes in Jamaica with a variety of experiences which not many parishes have to offer? Here is Pt 1 of the top 10 attractions in Portland and any one of the attractions on the list could have been number 1. Please do come and visit Portland, Jamaica when the tourism industry reopens.
The parish of Portland, located on the eastern side of Jamaica, is one of the most beautiful parishes on the island. Portland is Jamaica’s seventh largest parish with a population of approximately 82,000, 15,000 of whom live in the capital Port Antonio.
Few parishes offer the variety of experiences that Portland does. The parish extends from the highest peaks of the Blue Mountains, 7,402 ft above sea-level, down to the north coast, and is known for its rich history and varied scenery, including little islands, caves, bays, rivers, waterfalls, hills, beaches and villas.
Portland has the highest level of rainfall in the island, which helps explain how it maintains its lush greenness throughout the year.
Port Antonio, the parishes’ capital, has two harbors, with the western one being home to Navy Island, once owned by Errol Flynn.
There are so many things to see and do in Portland, but here is a list to guide you when visiting the parish of Portland:
1. Frenchman's Cove Beach
Frenchman’s Cove, located five miles (eight kilometres) from Port Antonio is one of the most beautiful beaches in Jamaica. The Frenchman’s Cove beach is part of the Frenchman’s Cove Resort, a private estate that is a popular destination for weddings, honeymoons and other special events.
The beach boasts miles of beautiful, white sand and turquoise waters that have attracted visitors to Jamaica for decades. Once a popular hangout spot for the Hollywood “rich and famous” in the 1960’s, its guests included Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Today Frenchman’s Cove is home to European tourists and locals who value the quiet scenic beauty of Portland.
2. Errol Flynn Marina
The Errol Flynn Marina is named after Hollywood actor and former Portland resident Errol Flynn. It is the only marina in the Caribbean that can handle the largest yachts in the world. The Port Authority of Jamaica built the Errol Flynn Marina in 2002 in honor of Flynn’s valuable contribution to the town.
According to local folklore, Flynn’s yacht, Zaca, was washed ashore by a storm while he was travelling in 1942. It was then that he discovered Port Antonio. He described Port Antonio as, ‘the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes upon’.
In the early 1950s, Flynn decided to retire from Hollywood and relocated to Port Antonio with his third wife, Patrice Wymore-Flynn, an American actress and singer. Over the years, the impact of their celebrity status helped put the Eastern Parish in Jamaica on the international map.
Errol Flynn popularized trips down rivers on bamboo rafts and contributed to the Hollywood/tourism appeal of the parish.
Because of its beautiful sunset and scenery, locals and tourists have made it a popular spot for weddings and other occasions.
Check out this short interesting video about the Errol Flynn Marina:
3. Winnifred Beach
Winnifred Beach, a public beach, is located between the Blue Lagoon and Boston Bay in Portland. It is nestled in a small sheltered bay between San San Bay and Dragon Bay in the parish of Portland. The surrounding mangroves and forest makes this beach a fairly secluded spot.This beautiful beach is the perfect place to go swimming, sunbathing or to relax and enjoy a tropical Jamaican atmosphere. Located at the bottom of a steep hill, the beach is usually a quiet spot frequented by locals, although on public holidays it can be crazy.
Winnifred Beach is also home to a delightful offshore reef that water-adventurers find perfect for snorkelling and exploring the clear, Jamaican waters.
Food services are available, such as snack shops and small restaurants; picnic tables provide the convenience of eating at this location. Craft shops that sell clothing and jewellery are present which adds to the cultural experience. Bathroom and changing room facilities are available which are ideal if you intend on spending all day at the beach.
4. Boston Jerk Center
If you want to get a taste of authentic jerk chicken or jerk pork, then the Boston Jerk Center in Portland is the place to go. Boston Jerk Center is focused around 7 jerk pits, but jerk, and associated foods, are not the only items for sale there. Fresh fruit juices, or even just fruit, and jewelry are part of the mix, and there's even a resident DJ, DJ Sheppy with his musical shack.
Here is the place to find the jerk closest to how jerk originally tasted, and taste jerk chicken made by the men whose parents/grandparents were the ones responsible for making it a global favorite. Jerk started as being about pork, and breadfruit, and has grown to include not only chicken, but fish, lobster, and conch soup. On some parts of the island, people are now even jerking goat, which is traditionally made into a curry.
5. Folly Mansion
The Folly Ruins is one of the most historical places in Jamaica. Like most historical sites on the island, the two-storey mansion – built on the 90-acre (36-hectare) estate – has an interesting tale associated with it.
Alfred Mitchell, a businessman from Salem, Connecticut, visited Port Antonio with his wife Annie Tiffany, heiress to the Tiffany fortune, in the early 1900's and fell in love with the town. In 1905 they purchased land at Folly Point and constructed an elaborate home. Built as a replica of a Roman villa and boasting 60 rooms, marble floors, glass windows and wooden doors. In addition, the house featured impressive modern conveniences of the day such as a steam-powered generator, electric lights and running water.
After Alfred Mitchell’s death in 1911, Annie Tiffany Mitchell relocated to the United States, selling the property to a new owner. The property changed hands over time and was eventually acquired by the Government of Jamaica.
In 1936, after falling into disrepair, the roof of the mansion collapsed. The ruins of the Folly Mansion, known as Folly Ruins, still stands today and show a glimmer of the original elegance and grandeur.
Beautiful even as ruins, the Folly Mansion has been used as the site for many a photoshoot and music video.
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Jacqueline Cameron is an editor/writer with years of writing experience running the gamut from blogging to reporting. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica and is the chief writer for the Jamaica So Nice Blog. She is a trained engineer and musician and loves to see people transformed through her work.