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Port Antonio/Jamaica

Introducing Port Antonio

If you took an ice-cream scoop out of the rainy northeast coast and surrounded it with a mess of markets, higglers and Georgian architecture slipping into various states of disrepair, you’d get Port Antonio, the laid-back yet endearingly real capital of laid-back, endearingly real Portland. There’s definitely no Margaritavilles here; just a capillary-like tangle of backstreets, browsing goats and friendly locals. Wandering away from the bustle, past the dilapidated houses lining the potholed streets of Titchfield Peninsula, it’s very easy to think you’ve roamed onto the set of some quaint colonial ghost town.

Ironic, then, that the tentacles of Jamaican tourism first found purchase in Port Antonio. The town came to prominence as the island’s major banana port, and its prosperity began luring visitors at the turn of the 20th century. Celebrity visitors, led by cinematic and real-life swashbuckler Errol Flynn, descended on the town in the 1930s. And when the tourist attentions moved on to the west of the island, Port Antonio went back to bananas. That’s been bad news for big resorts seeking a presence here, but perfect for travelers seeking a laid-back urban alternative to Jamaica’s big cities.