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 2 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.
6. The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon, also called Blue Hole, is one of the most beautiful natural attractions on the island. The lagoon is rumored to be bottomless but is about 200 feet (61 metres) deep and features clear, turquoise waters surrounded by lush greenery. The blue-and-green water is cool due to hundreds of tiny, underground mineral springs and guests enjoy diving into the lagoon or swinging off the tree vines.
The Blue Lagoon was one of the several locations chosen to shoot the 1980 acclaimed and controversial Brooke Shields movie. Due to the movie’s popularity, the Blue Hole has taken on the name, "Blue Lagoon." Also, it has been the site for other popular movies, such as “Club Paradise” with the late Robin Williams.
The Blue Lagoon is picture-worthy, especially if you’re a nature-lover. The water in the lagoon changes color depending on the time of day and the brightness of the sun.
The Blue Lagoon features a well-known restaurant where you can dine eating food served on banana leaves. You must try the unforgettable Blue Lagoon cocktail. In the day it is possible to take a dip, snorkel or get a boat ride. There is an entrance fee with live music on Sunday nights.
7. The Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains is the longest mountain range in Jamaica and features majestic scenery and cool temperatures. The range was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2015 due to its unique and diverse flora and fauna, much of it endemic to Jamaica. Magnificently undeveloped, this mountain paradise is best explored on foot. Hiking the Blue Mountains is one of the most rewarding experiences to be had in Jamaica.
There are even a few hostels and inns nestled in the hills that cater to hikers and campers who want to stay overnight or rest. The Blue Mountains is also home to the world-famous Blue Mountain Coffee Estate that guests are given the opportunity to tour.
The peak of the Blue Mountain sits at a majestic 2256 m (7402 ft), and is made all the more dramatic as it is possible to see the sea from the top (and from several points on the hike up there). This elevation has a dramatic effect on the climate which is usually several degrees cooler and much damper than at sea level. So, it is possible to leave Kingston or the coast wearing shorts, and require a coat, cap and umbrella long before the summit is reached. Regardless of fitness levels, there is something for everyone in the Blue Mountains and indeed everyone should make time to visit this area of outstanding natural beauty. It is possible to drive or take a pre-booked taxi to all of the hikes mentioned here.
8. Reach Falls
Reach Falls is one of Portland’s best-kept secrets. The attraction offers a unique blend of comfort, relaxation, and adventure. Reach Falls consists of a waterfall cascading down a rock face into an emerald river pool. It is an eco-attraction hidden in the Montane Forrest on the John Crow Mountain Range.
This magnificent waterfall has many natural holes carved out by the water, the most terrifying being the Rabbit Hole. If you’re brave enough to jump through this narrow passage, it will take you to a secret, underwater cave. The cave leads to the main pool, where a series of cascades tumble over limestone steps.
Reach Falls was discovered by runaway slaves from plantations in the neighboring parish of St Thomas, who sought refuge in the hills of the John Crow mountains.
Reach Falls offers the opportunity to enjoy the cascading waterfall, a picnic area, and a guided tour upstream the Driver’s River (which feeds the waterfall) featuring a visit inside our legendary underwater cave.
Reach Falls has over 23 species of ferns and it is nestled in the Montane Forrest of the John Crow Mountains which is home to a variety of birds, including the black, and yellow-billed parrots.
It has been featured in Hollywood films including Tom Cruise's "Cocktails" and the remake of "Lord of the Flies."
Please bring swim wear, water shoes, towel, camera, and credit card/cash.
9. Rafting on the Rio Grande
Rio Grande river rafting is one of the most popular attractions for both locals and tourists in Port Antonio. Rafting dates back to the 1950s, when Hollywood movie star and former resident of Jamaica, Errol Flynn saw farmers strapping fruits onto bamboo rafts going down the river and wanted to follow suit. Now, as one of the most popular tourist activities on the island, the rafts are operated by licensed and experienced raft captains.
The Rio Grande Rafting Tour is available 7 days a week. Each raft carries 2 adults and 1 small child. The tour begins at “Rafters Rest” and offers a 2 - 3 - hour excursion down one of Jamaica’s longest rivers. For this tour, visitors should dress comfortably and be sure to pack swimwear, towel and sunscreen. Waterproof phone covers would also come in handy.
Bamboo rafts were originally used to transport produce, especially bananas from the interior of Portland to the coast for export. The actor, Errol Flynn popularized bamboo rafting for pleasure purposes. The rafts are made up of long bamboo logs bound together to make the raft about 4 feet wide and about 25 to 30 feet long. An elevated “loveseat” or “lounge chair”, also made from bamboo, provides seating for the passengers.
Today, the Rio Grande River Rafting is one of the most popular attractions for visitors to Port Antonio. A skilled, licensed Raft Captain will take you down the river while you relax and absorb the beauty of Portland. Your Captain may regale you with local lore and information about flora and fauna of the area.
10. Boston Bay Beach
Boston Bay is a rock-cradled bay that sits nine miles (14.5 kilometres) east of Port Antonio’s town centre. Boston Beach is known for its great waves for surfing, its shore’s soft, powder-white sands, and its original jerk stands. The beach is a popular hangout spot for locals and a great place to relax and enjoy delicious Jamaican eats. Boston beach is right next door to Boston jerk centre, so meal choices are only a short walk away.
It is the beach where surfing in Jamaica started. People have been surfing Boston Beach since the 1960's, which is the island's source for developing top surfers. Many surfers start in the pre-teens. There are surf instructors at the beach who for a reasonable fee will have you up in a wave within your first hour.
Surfing aside, the white sand, lush tropical trees and plants that line the cliffs, make it an extraordinary place to visit. The golden sunlight, aqua/turquoise blue water and brown cliffs are breathtaking. If you visit Jamaica, make the effort to go to Boston Beach
You don't have to spend an arm and a leg to stay out by Boston Beach either. You can spend the money for some of the hotels and villas in the area. Ask some of the locals about accommodation near the beach, which are closer to motel rates, and walk to the beach
All facilities at the Beach has been newly renovated, these include a jerk center, surfing shop, restaurant, bar, toilet, shower and changing rooms facilities. New gazebos and parking areas have been constructed. Lifeguard stands and lounge chairs facilitate a safe and comfortable recreational experience.
If you are coming to Jamaica, please do visit Portland. Even Jamaicans acknowledge Portland as the most beautiful parish on the island. Not only is it home to some of the most beautiful, if small beaches on the island, it has the most diverse attractions in Jamaica.
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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.