Days that are dark by four o’clock, unforgiving cold winds. In the UK, it’s not even winter yet and we’re already searching for excuses to have a getaway.

Well, if you want to be inspired by a tropical break like no other, look no further. Our contributor, Vanessa Thomas, recently enjoyed an idyllic holiday on the lush isle of Jamaica. She shares her highlights and holiday snaps.

I’ve just returned from two glorious weeks in Jamaica. Not content with seeing one part of the large island, I succumbed to my wanderlust and visited Kingston, Negril, Ocho Rios, and Port Antonio. It was all heavenly, but the jewel of the trip was Port Antonio, capital of the Portland parish, located in the north east of the island. Famous for its natural beauty, multiple caves and rivers and idyllic beaches, this is the place to thaw your winter bones.

History

Port Antonio: exploring the rich history of this Caribbean cityI was particularly drawn to Portland because of its history. The parish was an area that Maroons (Africans who escaped from slavery and the indigenous peoples of the Americas) settled in, and fought to protect and keep European-free, with the infamous Nanny of the Maroons leading her people in battle to protect Portland.

 

Where to stay?

 Port Antonio: exploring the rich history of this Caribbean cityIf you’re the type who is at one with nature you’ll be pleased to learn that there are many eco resorts that you can reside in, although don’t worry, this isn’t quite sleeping under the stars! Eco resorts like Great Huts offers basic and more luxurious glamping suites on the beautiful cliffs of Boston Bay, which allows you to see the most stunning sunrises/ sunsets, and has its own beach. Of course, if this isn’t for you, due to its surreal beauty, Port Antonio is  a popular spot for film makers and thus you can find plentiful resorts and hotels along the Blue Lagoon, fit for royalty (and royally priced too).

 

What to do?

There’s no shortage of activities. If you haven’t already beached out in other parts of the island, then check out Winnifred Beach. Simple, untouched beauty with not a hotel propped sun lounger in sight! The turquoise waters and powder white sand are breath taking.

Port Antonio: exploring the rich history of this Caribbean cityIf like me, you see yourself as a bit of a Dora Explorer, then head to Reach Falls, hidden in the Montane Forrest, once used as a refuge by Maroons. You can enjoy the icy water at the bottom of the falls, or climb up rocks, dive into underwater caves, and pray you stay alive as I did. If you opt for this, please get a guide, as they know where’s safe and where’s rock.

Port Antonio: exploring the rich history of this Caribbean cityRafting along either the Rio Grande or Blue Lagoon is a must. You can relax and enjoy the scenery as you take stunning pictures to drive people crazy on the ‘gram, and just have a wonderful time sipping in God’s beauty as you’re rafted about.

Port Antonio: exploring the rich history of this Caribbean cityI didn’t actually have time to visit Frenchman’s Cove (just another reason to go back), but I’ve heard it’s a must see. It’s a 45-acre private estate that boasts of its own private beach and is a particularly popular spot for weddings, honeymoons and retreats.

Although not actually in Port Antonio, culture buffs won’t want to miss a trip down to Charles Town, a Maroon community near Buff Bay, where visitors can learn about the rich history of the Maroon people, and get to visit the museum.

Finally, if you want to shake a leg, ‘Road Block’ on a Thursday is a street party that you won’t want to miss.

I was only in Port Antonio for a few days, but it was the recharge that I needed, connecting with history and nature. I hope I’ve tempted you to visit, because I for one will certainly be returning.

Find out more about Port Antonio

 

Image credits: Vanessa Thomas

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