Attractions, Activities & Sights
In and around Villa Juanita, Portland, Jamaica
The Rio Grande (Big River) is the birthplace of Jamaican rafting - originally used as a means of transporting banana crops by bamboo rafts from local plantations to Port Antonio's bustling harbour. Named by the Spanish who occupied Jamaica in the 15th and 16th centuries, the wide river is perfect for rafting - a popular activity - and complimented by an onsite river lunch of local fare.
Blue Lagoon is one of Portland Jamaica's most prized destinations and largest of the island's spring fed lagoons. The water in the lagoon is a mix of cool fresh spring water and warm Caribbean salt water, as the lagoon is both open to the sea and fed by freshwater springs. Locals used to believe that the lagoon was bottomless, but it has since been discovered that the depth is somewhere around 180 to 200 feet. The glistening, turquoise blue waters appear to change colors to deeper sapphire or even royal blue throughout the day. Surrounded by such lush greenery, the Blue Lagoon is a stunning retreat.
Reach Falls is ranked as one of Jamaica's most exceptionally situated waterfalls. Flowing from the John Crow Mountains it forms its own ecological sanctuary. The falls are sheltered by virgin rain-forest and accentuated by crystal clear rock pools, lovely bamboo strands, and draping vines.
Somerset Falls is steeped in history and unique in its unsurpassed beauty. Situated on a former indigo and spice plantation it was home to Spanish settlers and still has relics and many of the original aqueducts, some dating back nearly 400 years. Situated in the 97-acre Somerset property the falls are offset by luxurious deep rock pools, dramatic natural limestone caverns, and stunning rock formations.
Portland's beaches include Winnifred Beach, Frenchman's Cove, Boston Beach, San San Beach, and Navy Island. These luxurious retreats are as relaxing and tranquil as they are regenerative and invigorating and no Jamaican vacation would be complete without a visit. Unlike other Caribbean Islands with their over populated and all-inclusive attractions, the beaches of Portland Jamaica are generally secluded, unspoiled getaways defined both by their unique character and pristine beauty. Surfing, horseback riding, birding, kayaking, river rafting, private boat tours, snorkeling, and scuba diving are just a few of the leisure and recreational activities that can be enjoyed at these locations.
The Blue and John Crow Mountains
The Blue and John Crow Mountains, inscribed into the UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites in July 2015, spans sections of the parishes of St Andrew, St Thomas, and Portland. As the largest contiguous area of natural forest in Jamaica, the national park protects 193 acres of forest on mountain slopes. The area is also renowned for its rich cultural heritage, being home to the Maroons, whose traditions are recognised by UNESCO as masterpieces of world culture.
Restoration Village Farm
Restoration Village Farm is a must see for any visitor interested in a walk around tour of local flora and fauna. Nearly every kind of tropical product is grown on the island due to the different microclimates and soil types. Restoration Village Farm offers samples of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables including their main crops of; cocoa (chocolate), ginger, dasheen, bananas, plantains, pumpkin, sweet potato, breadfruit, and pineapple. In addition, they grow a variety of other vegetables, fruits, ground provisions, seasonings, spices, medicinal plants and flowers. The 36 acre farm, nestled in the foothills of the John Crow Mountains, offers a 60-minute educational guided walking tour, wading pool, and an authentic farm-to-table lunch.
BATH FOUNTAIN in ST. THOMAS
Bath Fountain in St. Thomas, another feature close to Villa Juanita, is home to natural springs of rich mineral waters bubbling forth forth deep within the earth. The hot springs are plentiful in sulphur, sodium, and calcium - a rarity to see all three together. For those seeking healing or rejuvenation, the public baths allow 20 minute soaks in the therapeutic water fed through the limestone rocks on bamboo pipes. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can negotiate with independent attendants and wade upstream to where the scalding water mixes with the cool river to enjoy their hot towel massages and other spa treatments.
The natural spring waters are believed to aid in the treatment and healing of a range of ailments, including gout, the stiffness and inflammation of rheumatic and muscular disorders, skin ailments, fungal infections, and respiratory problems. The dissolved mineral salts and sulfur compounds can also ease the body and soothe the mind. Many claim that bathing in mineral springs can restore balance to overworked adrenal glands – healing the endocrine system.
Folly Great House
Folly Great House encompasses the relics of a former mansion shrouded in mystery, with amazing stories cooked up by the locals. Formerly a house on the estate of Alfred Mitchell and Anne Olivia Tiffany Mitchell (heiress to the Tiffany & Co. fortune and daughter of Charles Lewis Tiffany) the two-story 60 room, Greek-Roman style villa was built in the winter of 1904-1905. It included horse stables, and a domed Greek-inspired cupola on the point set up to watch the breakers.
When Alfred passed away in 1911 his widow stayed in the house for a few more winters before ultimately selling it to another buyer. It was later abandoned and taken over by the Jamaican government and fell into disrepair. Once abandoned, it was raided by locals and many things were stolen, including the main load-bearing supports of the concrete ceiling – causing it to collapse in 1938. The ceiling collapse started a rumour that the concrete had been mixed with seawater, unlikely because the Mitchell’s had everything to build the house boated over from US, including the esteemed N.Y. construction firm, James Wilkerson & Co. when they built the house from scratch. Standing on the property one can imagine it in its former splendour, surrounded by a large tropical garden and with steam-powered electric lights glowing from the inside.
ERROL FLYNN MARINA
Located West of the Titchfield Peninsula, and just off the main square of Port Antonio, Errol Flynn Marina is a world-class yachting marina home to gift shops, a scuba diving school, restaurants and eateries, children's area, and beach. Named after Errol Flynn, one of Port Antonio's most famous residents, the marina offers 32 fixed births, state of the art amenities, and a helicopter landing pad that can accommodate up to four helicopters.