Portland, Jamaica is the most underrated parish on the island. Like the rest of Jamaica it often gets overlooked by Ocho Rios, Negril and Montego Bay, but it shouldn’t. There are so many amazing attractions in Portland and it’s more than worth a visit. If you’re ready to explore the side of the island most people don’t here is the ultimate guide to visiting Portland, Jamaica.
How to Get to Portland, Jamaica
Portland, Jamaica is on the east side of the island and two and a half hours from Kingston. The airlines that fly into Norman Manley International Airport are American, Jetblue, and Spirit, Delta, Caribbean Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways, Cayman Airways, Copa, and WestJet. You can rent a car at the airport from Alamo or hire a private shuttle. If you do plan to drive yourself I highly recommend landing with plenty of sunlight left in the day as the roads are pitch black after the sun sets and there are a lot of potholes on the roads in Jamaica. There are two paths from Kingston to Portland, one is along the coastline going through St. Thomas. The other is going through St. Mary’s Parish. Either way if you have service on your cell phone you’ll be able to use GPS to get to your final destination.
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Attractions in Portland, Jamaica
You cannot visit Portland, Jamaica without going to Reach Falls. It’s one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island. You can hang out at the bottom of the fall or get a guide to help you climb and go to the rabbit hole. I highly recommend doing this as the pathway is gorgeous. You can swim in the natural pools of crystal clear water to get there or walk along the path. Once you get to the rabbit hole you can jump into a hole and come out on the other side. It’s quite thrilling but not scary at all.
Please note it’s closed on Monday’s so plan accordingly. As of June 2019 it cost $10 for adults, $5 for kids, and children 4 and under are free. If you have a Jamaican ID or passport you’ll pay half price.
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If you’re looking to relax Winnifred Beach is the place to go. It’s a beach frequented by locals and is a free public beach. There are a few restaurants on the beach in case you get hungry.
Rafting on the Rio Grande
Rafting down the Rio Grande is a must do attractions in Portland, Jamaica. There are two options, you can do a 90 minute round trip raft which only covers part of the rio grande or you can take the two hour one way route. Unless you have a tour guide who can pick you up at the end you’d have to get back to your car on your own with this option. Up to 3 people can ride on each raft so if you have two kids or more you will have to get two rafts.
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While there is a Blue Hole in Ocho Rios, this one is different. There are no waterfalls to jump off but the water is as blue as the sky and stunning. You can go rafting here as well although it’s not an official rafting site, rent a kayak or swim in the water.
Who doesn’t want to spend the day at a private beach? As the name states Frenchman’s Cove is a cove so it’s not the widest beach. Still it’s beautiful and has a river adjacent to it that runs into the ocean. The river is much colder than the ocean but it’s refreshing on a hot day. It also has a few swings in the river which obviously make for a great photo.
Where to Eat in Portland, Jamaica
Each time I’ve visited Portland my hotel or Airbnb have provided breakfast so I’ve never purchased breakfast here. However, for lunch and dinner here are some of the best places to eat in Portland, Jamaica.
Boston Jerk Center
If you’re looking for the best jerk anything in Jamaica the Boston Jerk Center is the place to eat. It has all the best jerk shops in Portland and you won’t be disappointed! If jerk isn’t your thing you can still find many other options like conch, lobster and fish.
GeeJam sits on a big hill so I suggest eating here for lunch or an early dinner. This way you can enjoy the gorgeous ocean views while you eat. Besides the great ambiance, the food is phenomenal!
It’s best to eat at Frenchman’s Cove the day you spend some time there as there is an entry fee. Still the restaurant right on the beach is very tasty. When you order they will bring a table and chair right to you so you can stay on the beach and enjoy the breeze.
The Trident Hotel has two restaurants on site and even if you aren’t staying there you can dine. If you want a nice sit down meal in Portland this is definitely the place to eat.
Where to Stay in Portland, Jamaica
Since Portland, Jamaica doesn’t get as many tourists as other parts of the island you won’t find any all-inclusive resorts here. To be quite honest you won’t find any household name hotels at all and your options for luxury hotels are limited.
If you do want a luxury hotel you’ll want to stay at Trident hotel. The property has 13 villas, each with a private backyard, huge bathroom and shower along with an outdoor tub. There is an infinity pool that overlooks the ocean, spa, movie theater, gym, and playground. There are also two restaurants on site that serve delicious food. We ate here for Father’s Day brunch which also granted us a day pass to stay and enjoy the property for the rest of the day.
If the Trident isn’t in your budget, as it wasn’t in our’s there are plenty of boutique hotels to choose from. I’ve previously stayed at the Sea Cliff Resort (pictured below) but I can’t say that I found it worth the $300/night we paid. Still it has air condition and WiFi, which you won’t in all hotels in Portland, Jamaica. Our rate did include breakfast and all the rooms overlooks the ocean. While I haven’t personally stayed at either I have heard good things about GeeJam.
The other option for places to stay in Portland, Jamaica is Airbnb. You’ll find quite a few to choose from. We stayed in this Airbnb and while it had amazing views I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. If you’re driving yourself it’s important to note it’s up a very steep hill and parts of the way up it’s a narrow road on the side of the mountain so if you’re not used to driving on these types of roads you may feel uncomfortable. If you’d be relying on taxis while you could get one to come back to the house getting one to go into town could be difficult. There is also no WiFi or air condition although fans are provided. Nervous about Airbnb? Here are 8 tips to guarantee a great Airbnb experience. If you’re new to Airbnb you can sign up here and save $40 on your first booking.
I hope the attractions in Portland, Jamaica listed has convinced you there is more to Jamaica than Ocho Rios, Negril, and Montego Bay. Portland remains one of my favorite parishes on the island. Another overlooked parish is St. Elizabeth but it’s gorgeous, check out what to do there here. Did you find this article helpful? Please share it!