[This post uses some affiliate links to clothing that I’ve worn in the trip and includes accommodation recommendations for nights or experiences that I have been gifted.]
Things to do in Port Antonio
So you’re planning a trip to Jamaica and you want an authentic experience. You want to travel around a bit, live the life of a local as well as kicking back and sampling some of the Island’s little luxuries.
If Port Antonio has tickled your fancy then let me tell you this one thing first – it’s wet.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, you’re ready to explore! Pack your brolly and some reliable trainers and note these places on your map.
1 – The eco-hotel – Hotel Mockingbird Hill
Caveat: I could write about the Mockingbird Hill Hotel for days. The story of its conception and its impressive eco-credentials deserve a catalogue-esque write-up but I’ll try and keep it concise for you! My travel buddy Kristabel found the hotel listed on i-escape, a site that aggregates great, affordable indie hotels and they very kindly gifted us a couple of nights to experience it. With a strong eco credential, I couldn’t wait to put my bags down.
The hotel was founded 20 years ago by two girl friends who had bonded over a shared hatrid of pershing and a shared love of causing a bit of a riot when it came to sustainability issues (their acts of supermarket de-packaging even resulted in some ecologically-conscious legislation changes!). The hotel Mockingbird Hill was one the first four hotels in the world to gain Green Globe environmentally friendly status and was the first hotel in Jamaica to start a carbon off-setting program, so you can rest assured that the Hotel Mockingbird Hill have got your backs – your flight to Jamaica has already been off-set. Thanks guys!
So what else makes them deserve their 17+ eco-awards? There are next to no disposable plastics in the rooms, toiletries are made locally (and smell delicious, hello coconut shampoo!), rainwater is treated to become drinking water and the water that you pour on your body is solar heated and monitored with stop-taps. I was impressed.
As for the rest of the experience, we were in proverbial heaven (the proximity to the clouds might have something to do with that) with the grounds feeling like an oasis of calm. The gardens are beautifully tendered yet still feel wild so they’re both peaceful and great fun to explore alone (say hi to all the frogs for me). Whether you’re a keen bird-watcher or only just about manage to make-out your monstera plant in the wild, you’ll love this addition to the hotel.
As for food, the hotel boasts a pretty renowned kitchen in the area (so if you’re not staying here you can still come for the grub) and once you taste its fare you’ll see why. Locally sourced and changing daily, we opted for the coconut curry lobster – which was absolutely delicious – and chefs’ selection of desserts.
If you’re not staying the night, you’ll sure want to for the breakfast is quite a treat. A plate of fresh fruit awaits alongside a bread and cake basket which comes warm, accompanied by home-made jams. By far the best thing we ate was the coconut bread with guava jam. Luckily the coconut bread recipe is now on their website but sadly I had to make do with shop-bought jam.
Practical travel tip: You’ll need to plan your itinerary with times at least a day before and inform the hotel so that they can help you with bookings and transport (i.e taxis).
Find the Mockingbird Hill on i-escape. Nights start from £150
What I wore at the Mockingbird Hill hotel:
Dress – ASOS / Shoes – Converse / Sunglasses – Boden
2 – Boston Bay
A little outside of the main town of Port Antonio lies the tiny village of Boston Bay and this is where you want to head if you’ve got jerk in mind (i.e ALWAYS). The street of jerk centres is essentially a side road with around 5 jerk seller stands and one juice stand at the end. All the owners will heckle you for your custom but if you tell your taxi driver that you’re a little overwhelmed, they can drive you right in and tell them all to leave you alone, like we did. *Flicks hair*.
We opted for the first jerk shack where we ordered pork, snapper, chicken and festival (a dough stick) and sweet potato (though you can give this a miss). Ask the guys to show you the smokers and they’ll gladly explain how they go about slow cooking the jerk meats on wooden batons over coals for hours.
After your fill, head up to the commercial looking bar at the top of the hill, order a double Wray & Nephew rum (it’s the island’s poison) and mix it in the rest of your Ting (grapefruit soda) that you bought with your meal. Watch the sunset and chill, man.
If you’re visiting in the day and think that £5 for a meal sounds a bit steep, walk down the hill further until you hit Claudia’s. A proper local’s restaurant, it only sits two people but at £1.40 for a whole plate of brown stew pork, rice n peas and cabbage, you’d be foolish not to really.
Carry on further down the road and on the right hand side opposite the road down to the beach you’ll finally spot a black shack. Owned by a vegan Rasta called Derek, it’s an absolute bounty of colourful fruit, veg, herbs (all kinds…) and hand crafted gifts. Derek offers excellent chat too.
What I wore in Boston Bay:
3 – Frenchman’s Cove
If you’re staying at the Mockingbird Hill hotel, you can get a free taxi ride 20 minutes down the road to Frenchman’s Cove, the best beach in the Port Antonio area. It’s owned by the villa resort that surrounds it but access is free for MBH guests. If you’ve done your Instagram research, you’ll recognise *that* wooden swing that hangs over the tributary which you’ll almost certainly want to nab a snap on yourself.
What I wore in Frenchman’s Cove:
4 – Discover Port Antonio town
Spend an afternoon or a day in Port Antonio itself to get a real feel for the town and to enrich your Jamaica experience (you’re sure to end up chatting to a friendly local or spotting something you wouldn’t see by car).
Visit the craft market, browse the local shacks or grab an authentic place to eat. We were recommended to eat at Wilkes, a seaside shack specialising in fresh catch of the day. It’s a no-frills but none the less charming place to watch the sunset over the bay in, not to mention great for seafood (prawn curry, yeah mon). Be sure to keep your wits about you as you walk through the more crowded streets just as you would in any busy town.
5 – The Trident Hotel
If you’re looking for a little luxury anywhere in the world, head to Small Luxury Hotels where you can browse by location for somewhere indie and unique. My Social Media friend Abi who works for the website kindly gifted us lunch and a look around Trident, their Jamaican listing.
Our jaws dropped as we saw beautiful self-enclosed villas each with their own pools overlooking the sea (from £1,400 per night) and smacked our lips at the very tasty lunch. After dropping a LOT of hints, our guide very kindly walked us to Trident castle, an arrestingly white mansion erected in 1979 which can be hired out for weddings and special occasions via the hotel.
Browse the Small Luxury Hotels of the world to find your perfect hotel.
What I wore at the Trident hotel:
Dress – ASOS / Swimsuit – Boden
Will it be your first time in Jamaica? Read my first timer’s guide to visiting Jamaica