Port Antonio Jamaica was the island's first vacation destination. Over the years, glamorous visitors like Errol Flynn have found respite in the coastal town. Today, a Port Antonio vacation is a chance to escape the resort towns of Montego Bay or Ocho Rios or the urban buzz of Kingston. Port Antonio hotels are praised for their "green" tourism practices and the whole region has embraced environmental sustainability as a guiding principle.
Port Antonio Jamaica grew to prominence in the late
19th century as the major port of the Jamaican banana
trade. To help pay for their return trips to Jamaica,
banana companies began offering tourists from New
York City and elsewhere transportation to Port Antonio. Soon "Portie" was a favored
hideaway for such luminaries as William Randolph Hearst
and Rudyard Kipling. Rich Americans built fancy Port Antonio
villas in the hills around town and flocked to town for
a Port Antonio vacation.
The town's fortuned reversed in the early 20th century, when disease devastated the banana industry. Port Antonio Jamaica was in a state of decline when movie star Errol Flynn washed ashore in his yacht during a storm in 1946. Flynn fell in love Port Antonio, going as far as to buy a large island, Navy Island, off the shore of the town.
Flynn's dreams to reestablish Port Antonio Jamaica as a major tourism destination were cut short by his death in 1959, but his influence help lead to a second heyday for the town in the 1960s. Luxurious Port Antonio hotels like the now-shuttered resort overlooking Frenchman's Cove attracted the Hollywood jet set, many of whom stayed to build Port Antonio villas.
Port Antonio has never captured the mass tourist trade in the same way as Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, or, more recently, Negril. Despite this, Port Antonio hotels are as good as most on the island. The Goblin Hill Port Antonio Villas on the San San estate are unique condominium apartments with access to a private golf course and white-sand beach. Trident Port Antonio Villas are relaxing hideaways to the east of town. Nights at these Port Antonio hotels begin at about $120.
There are also some good Port Antonio hotels for the budget traveler. Ocean Crest Guest House, Ivanhoe's, and Cache's Villa all have rooms for under $40 a night.
The most popular sight near Port Antonio Jamaica is the beautiful Blue Lagoon, which gets its startlingly blue color from its 200-foot depth. Other sights include Folly, a ruined 60-room mansion; the impressive Trident's Castle; and many, many gorgeous beaches: San San, Frenchman's Cove, and Long Bay, among others.
A Port Antonio vacation is great for adventure travel. Many tour groups offer guided trips up the beautiful Rio Grande River valley to the Blue Mountains National Park. The waters around Port Antonio Jamaica are good for snorkeling and surfing, and famed for their deep-sea fishing.
A Port Antonio vacation is a little different to a trip to Montego Bay or Ocho Rios (for one thing, there are less hawkers pushing souvenirs), but for independent travelers looking for a Jamaican getaway should consider this town.