Jamaica may be famous for it beaches, but the island actually boasts a diverse landscape of mountains, valleys, and forests that’s equally as striking. A great way to grab some of these vistas is by visiting Port Antonio, the capital of the idyllic parish of Portland. Graced with mountain views and lush vegetation, along with beaches, to boot, Port Antonio is considered one of the prettiest areas on the island. Located on Jamaica’s northeastern coast and popular with locals for weekend getaways, this small town is filled with beauty at every turn. Here are six Port Antonio landmarks that you don’t want to miss:
1. The Blue Lagoon
A deep lagoon that sparkles with sapphire and turquoise hues, the Blue Lagoon (pictured above) boasts underground streams that gently massage your limbs as you swim. Besides the lagoon’s beauty, it also provides an unusual mix of fresh and saltwater because of the underground mineral streams. Originally called the Blue Hole, it was renamed after the ‘Blue Lagoon” movie starring Brooke Shields, filmed on location in the ‘80s.
2. The Blue Mountains
Explore the majestic mountains and wild forests of the Blue Mountains and John Crow National Park. This is where the legendary Blue Mountain coffee is cultivated on lower slopes, but also where you can spot tree frogs, parrots, swallowtail butterflies, as well as an expansive rainforest canopy.
3. Somerset Falls
Located deep in the rainforest and surrounded by caves and the Daniels River, Somerset Falls are often overlooked for the bigger Dunn’s River Falls, which is just as pretty, but a more tranquil spot for travelers. The falls run through a former spice plantation and past the forest and caves for a striking scene. The best way to view the falls is to take a boat trip up the Daniels River. There's also a small bar and restaurant right by the mouth serving local catches and authentic Jamaican specialties.
4. Trident Castle
With white turrets rising against the Caribbean Sea and the Blue Mountains, Trident Castle is one of Port Antonio’s most unexpected landmarks. The only traditional castle located in the Caribbean, Trident Castle sits on seven acres and offers eight bedrooms, a helicopter pad, and a private chapel for interested luxury renters. Originally built for a German baroness in the ‘80s, it's now owned by Jamaican billionaire Michael Lee Chin and is a popular wedding venue.
5. Frenchman’s Cove
A pearly sand beach located in the middle of a wide valley, Frenchman’s Cove is one of the the island’s most celebrated spots. Edged by lush gardens and a aquamarine river stream, the semi-secluded beach serves as a small slip of paradise. A famous romantic getaway for Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the ‘60s, it's now part of the Frenchman’s Cove Resort but open to the public for a small entrance fee.
6. Rio Grande River
Yes, Texas has a Rio Grande but Port Antonio’s Rio Grande River is nestled between lush banana and bamboo groves. The river was originally used to transport produce from the island’s interior, but golden-age Hollywood actor Errol Flynn popularized bamboo rafting down the river for fun in the 1950s and it's been an essential Port Antonio excursion ever since. Floating down the Rio Grande, accompanied by a raft captain who guides the vessel with a pole -- through emerald valleys and tropical rainforest -- is the ultimate Port Antonio experience.