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 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 declined in the early 20th century, when disease devastated the banana industry. Port Antonio 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 with Port Antonio, purchased Navy Island, a small island yards away from town and made it his local residence.
Flynn’s dreams of reestablishing Port Antonio as a major tourism destination were cut short by his untimely death in 1959 but his influence helped the re-birth of the town in the 1960s. Luxurious Port Antonio hotels like Frenchman’s Cove attracted the Hollywood and Business jet set, many of whom built beautiful homes in the hills overlooking the San San and Frenchman’s beaches.
The most popular sight near Port Antonio is the beautiful Blue Lagoon, which gets its startlingly blue color from its 200-foot depth. Other sights include Folly, the ruins of a 60-room mansion; the impressive Trident’s Castle; and other gorgeous beaches like Winnifred and Long Bay .
A Port Antonio vacation is great for adventure travel. Many tour operators offer guided trips up the beautiful Rio Grande River valley and the Blue Mountains National Park. Port Antonio is famed for its Marlin fishing tournament, snorkeling and surfing. Different from the crowded resorts town of Negril, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, Port Antonio offers to “get away from it all”.