Port Antonio / Boston Bay
After an enjoyable stay in Ocho Rios, we continued our journey east into Portland Parish en route to Boston Bay. This region of the country is more remote, and you won’t find throngs of tourists swarming the beaches here. The coastal highway transforms into a pothole-ridden two-lane road that winds alongside an unspoiled coastline and through a lush rainforest. This region of the country is truly paradise; nature lovers will love it here.
We were drawn to this remote part of the island because 1) the best surfing on the island is on the east coast (my friend’s husband surfs) 2) the Boston Bay Jerk Centre is heralded as the birthplace of jerk cuisine and 3) we really wanted to stay at Great Huts.
Great Huts was incredible. I’ve travelled a lot, and have never seen anything like it. As described on their website, Great Huts is:
“Distinctive for its beach-jungle-meadow-cliff habitat and African hut and tree-house rooms, it provides a unique ecological and cultural vacation experience. Great Huts: Paradise on the Edge – Aboriginal yet modern, minimalist yet complex, off the beaten path but near the night life and happenings of Boston Bay and Port Antonio.”
There really aren’t the words to adequately describe the awesomeness that is Great Huts, so I shot some video for you.
The oceanfront resort was truly paradise. Breathtaking views from every inch of the property. Eclectic art at every turn. An assortment of benches and hammocks on which to pass the time. Being lulled to sleep by the sound of waves. Easy access to one of the most beautiful beaches in Port Antonio. We spent three nights there and enjoyed every minute of it.
Thanks to a tip from our bartender (always make friends with your bartender!), we passed on an organized tour of the Blue Lagoon and planned our own excursion. We rented kayaks from the beach at the Tropical Lagoon Resort, and spent the afternoon kayaking around the Blue Lagoon, along the coast, around Monkey Island, all the way to San San Beach. We took a break at San San Beach to swim and relax, then kayaked back. A perfect day, capped off by lunch at Gurley Aston’s, a fantastic jerk restaurant right next door to Great Huts.
Some notes about traveling to Port Antonio:
- Port Antonio is rural, and you won’t find easy access to things like stores, gas stations, ATMs, etc. Many establishments only take cash, and ATMs are pretty much nonexistent outside of the main city.
- The roads are not in the best condition, so if you rent a car, be prepared to drive slow and look out for potholes!
- The coastal route from Kingston to Port Antonio, while scenic, is a rough road, and will likely take you about four hours (2 hours longer than google maps estimates). The faster route is to come and go through Ocho Rios.
- For a lot of the local merchants, YOU are their primary source of income. You will be approached by Jamaicans trying to sell you things and take you on excursions. Always negotiate costs up front, support the local economy to the extent you can, and try to be polite in your refusals. I can attest that being constantly accosted by vendors can interfere with your plans to spend a quiet afternoon lazing in the sun, but try to remember that they’re just trying to feed their families. Context is key. As I mentioned before, the “I don’t have any cash on me” worked quite well in these instances.
If you’re looking to experience the REAL Jamaica, Port Antonio should definitely be part of your itinerary. Blissfully off the grid, with life slowed waaaay down, you will engage a quality of relaxation that is hard to come by in the modern world. I cannot wait to go back.