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Port Antonio  has retained its charm, as a quiet rural township, and is home to one of the most beautiful harbors in the world.
Capital of the parish of Portland - the town was described by the American poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who vacationed here, as “the most exquisite port on earth”.
Port Antonio’s twin harbors are among the finest in the Caribbean. This is a place where you can truly escape from the stress of daily life.  Commercial tourism has not discovered this tiny piece of paradise on earth ... yet.

A SHORT, LONG HISTORY - Port Antonio was a sleepy coastal town up until the 1880s, when Lorenzo Dow Baker started the banana trade in Jamaica, simultaneously promoting Port Antonio as one of the most amazing destinations for wealthy American travelers.

“Porty” became a “boom town” as a result of the growth of the banana trade, with more and more tourists arriving and departing in the banana boats. There were so many at one point, it's claimed that weekly sailing from Port Antonio was greater than weekly sailing from the great English port of Liverpool.

 

Port Antonio Aerial View

In the 1940's & 50's, the island was glamorized by Hollywood, as it became the epitome of paradise for the silver screen. This was endorsed by the arrival of world-famous movie star, Errol Flynn, who arrived in Port Antonio in 1946 when his yacht “Zacca” washed ashore in bad weather.  Members of Royal families, movie stars, great musicians and well known politicians who have visited Port Antonio over the years, are countless.

It's no wonder Hollywood selected the Port Antonio area to shoot films such as "Club Paradise" and "Cocktail". Over the years, Port Antonio has become an elegant vacation spot for stars such as Randolph Hearst, Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, Brooke Shields, Raquel Welch, Tom Cruise, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, Linda Evans, Sharon Stone, Grace Jones and the list goes on and on.
 

Errol Flynn

There are quite a few sites to see in this area. One of them is the magnificent Blue Lagoon.  This turquoise lagoon owes its color to its 200 ft depth. You might also take a slow raft ride down the Rio Grande River or climb the Reich Falls.  Port Antonio is worth the trip. Not only are the accommodations pleasant for the most part, the area itself is gorgeous.

Although many tourists come to Port Antonio looking for the nice beaches and the sun, rainy days occur.  The exuberant rainfall is the mainstay of the lush, beautiful green landscape that surrounds the entire area.  Port Antonio’s weather often changes quickly, if you see clouds when you wake up, do not worry. Take a shower, have breakfast, relax a while  and... get ready for the beach!

Although some travel guides warn about harassment in Jamaica, this is not a problem in Port Antonio, considered one of the safest place in all the Caribbean. If anyone approaches you selling wares you’re not interested in purchasing, just say "no, thank you", and smile and that should be enough.

Port-Antonio-Panoramic

A walk through the town is a walk through history, with its narrow streets lined with buildings from another era including the neo-Romanesque Anglican stone church (1840) and the charming gingerbread DeMontevin Lodge (1881), now a popular guest house on Titchfield Peninsula. 
Fort George (1729) overlooks the harbors, with its cannons pointing out to sea.  Just outside of town lies the ruins of Mitchell's Folly built in 1905 of cement and sea water.   Don’t forget a visit to the new beautiful
Errol Flynn Marina.
 

History-Photos2

 

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

    Citizens of the US and Canada do not require a visa to come to Jamaica as tourists, and are permitted to visit the island for a period not exceeding six months.

    Citizens 16 years and older of these countries may use the following documents for entry: valid passport (or passport which has expired for a period not exceeding one year), or an original Birth Certificate (with raised seal) along with a photo ID (documents must bear the same name).

    Residents may use an alien registration card, however, some residents may require a visa. Press personnel on assignment will require a work permit. Additionally, all visitors are required to travel with a round-trip or onward airline ticket for entry into Jamaica.

    UK: Commonwealth citizens need passport (no visa required). All other countries, please contact the Jamaica Tourist Board office near you for requirements.

    Japan: passport required. (Visa required for stay of over 30 days). Commonwealth citizens need a passport, no visa is required (except for citizens of Pakistan and Sri Lanka).

    Indian citizens will not require a visa for a maximum stay of ten (10) days in the island, but will require visa in excess of ten days.

 

GATEWAYS/FLYING TIMES To:

  • Baltimore-3 hours
  • Boston-3 hours 40 min.
  • Chicago-3 hours 45 min.
  • Dallas-3 hours 20 min..
  • Los Angeles-5 hours 30 min..
  • Miami-1 hour 25 min..
  • Montego Bay from Atlanta-2 hours 40 min..
  • New Orleans-3 hours
  • New York-3 hours 20 min..
  • Toronto-4 hours

 

LOCAL PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

  • New Year's Day
  • February 28: Ash Wednesday
  • April 10: Good Friday
  • April 13: Easter Monday
  • May 23: Labour Day
  • August 1: Emancipation Day
  • August 6: Independence Day
  • October 19: National Heroes Day
  • December 25: Christmas Day
  • December 26: Boxing Day

LEGAL CURRENCY

50

100

500

1000

5000

MONEY

The official rate of exchange fluctuates daily, depending on foreign exchange markets. 
Bank of Jamaica

Currently US$1 = JA$100.
There are several licensed authorized foreign exchange dealers located island wide. These are called cambios.

 

MAJOR BANKS

  • Bank of Jamaica. Bank of Nova Scotia Ja. Ltd.  First Caribbean Bank Ja. Ltd. Citibank. Citizens Bank (Jamaica) Ltd., National Commercial Bank Ja. Ltd., RBTT Bank Ja. Ltd., and Jamaica National Building Society.

 

BANKING HOURS

  • Monday to Thursday 9 AM-2 PM.
    Friday: CIBC JA. Ltd. & Bank 9 AM-12 PM & 2:30-5:00 PM.
    Most other commercial banks 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
    Exchange Bureaus are open in Montego Bay and Kingston airports for all international flight arrivals and departures.

 

BUSINESS HOURS

  • Monday to Friday 0900-1700.
    Shopping Monday to Friday 0900-1700. Saturday 1000-1800.

 

TAXES & SERVICE CHARGES

    Departure tax JA$2,000 or US$ equivalent (this rate is subject to change without prior notice due to the fluctuation of the Jamaican dollar) or its equivalent in foreign currency is payable at the airport upon departure.
    General Consumption Tax: a 17.5%.
    Tax Free Status: Due to a tax treaty passed in 1981 with the US, all expenses incurred for holding meetings or conventions in Jamaica are tax deductible.

AIRPORTS

    (KGN)-Norman Manley International Airport, 13 miles from Kingston.

    (MBJ)-Donald Sangster International Airport, 2 miles from downtown Montego Bay.

    Sangster to: Ocho Rios 30 minutes Negril 30 minutes Manley to Port Antonio - only charter service is currently available - time 40 minutes.

     

AIRLINES

Air Canada Air Jamaica ALM. American Airlines American Trans Air Avianca British Airways BWIA Cayman Airways Condor Continental COPA Cubana Delta LTU Northwest Trans World Airlines US Air

 

COUNTRY PROFILE

Latitude 17.43 degrees/18.43 degrees north. Longitude 76.11 degrees/78.21 degrees west. The highest point above sea level is the Blue Mountain Peak at 7,402 ft. Mountainous, with some 120 rivers throughout the island. Jamaica is also known for its flora and fauna with over 200 species of orchids, 550 varieties of ferns and 250 species of birds of which 24 are endemic. The country is the third largest in the Caribbean, 146 miles long and varying between 22 miles and 51 miles in width. Beaches are found along all the island's coasts.

 

CLIMATE

Temperatures high/low-Summer 80 degrees F/70-80 degrees F. Winter 80 degrees F/70 degrees F.
Annual average temperature is 82 degrees F.
In the hills it's cooler with an average temperature around 70 degrees F.
In Kingston, humidity ranges from 63% in February to 75% in October.
In Montego Bay, humidity ranges from 71 to 77
Average rainfall is 77" annually.
Approx. sunrise/sunset 0600/1900.

 

HISTORY

Settled by the Taino Indians, Jamaica comes from the word Xaymaca meaning Land of Wood and Water. Ruled by the Spanish and subsequently the British, Jamaica gained her independence on August 6, 1962. The country's motto, "Out of Many, One People" refers to the many heritage of people that make up the island.

 

LANGUAGE

The official language spoken is English. Patois, a mix of English and African, is also spoken.

 

POPULATION

2.5 million.

 

DINING

Restaurants available - Local and International Fast food to Gourmet. International Tipping: 10-15% (Some hotels have a built in service charge). Dress code is casual or casually elegant. Some hotel restaurants do require jacket and ties, particularly in the winter season.

 

SHOPPING

Locally produced items:  Blue Mountain Coffee, Tia Maria, Rum, Pimento (all spice), Straw items, Wood carvings, Craft items, Resort wear, Jewelry, Handmade linens, tablecloths. Duty free items are available at approximately 20-50% off stateside prices.

 

ATTRACTIONS / SIGHTSEEING PORT ANTONIO

The Blue Lagoon * Frenchman’s Cove * San San Beach * Long Bay * Port Antonio Marina * Trident Castle * Port Antonio Market, Reach Falls, Boston Beach * Nonsuch Caves* Crystal Spring Resort * Navy Island * Rio Grande Rafting * Somerset Falls * Blue Mountain Bicycle Tour * Horseback Riding * Winnifred Beach * Scuba Dive * Deep Sea Fishing

 

TRANSPORTATION

Driving is on the left hand side of the road. Rentals available include-Cars, mopeds and bicycles. Temporary licence/permit requirements:  A US driver's licence is valid for up to three months per visit. A UK driver's license is valid for up to 12 months per visit. Japanese driver's license is valid for up to one month from time of entry. Local Services -Taxi, tour buses, intra island flights. Sightseeing and visitor transfer bus service available in all resort areas.

 

ELECTRICITY

110 Volts/50 AC is standard. 220 volts is available in some hotels. Some hotels supply adaptors.

 

 
MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS

Visitors can be married just 24 hours after arriving in Jamaica providing prior application has been made for a marriage license.
1) Proof of citizenship, certified Birth Certificate, which includes father's name.
2) Parents' written consent if under 21.
3) Proof of divorce (if applicable) - original Certificate of Divorce.
4) Certified Death Certificate for widow or widower. Blood test: none.  Persons need to have a heterosexual relationship for marriage as a prerequisite.

 

MEDICAL FACILITIES

There are facilities in all major resort areas as well as drug stores that provide pharmaceuticals. There are private doctors and dentists throughout the island.

 

PET REGULATIONS:Pets are not allowed into the country.

 

 
RELIGION

There are many religious groups in Jamaica, including Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Jewish, Pentecostals, Presbyterians and Rastafarians are found island wide. Jamaica has been noted for having the most churches per square mile.

 

Things to know about Jamaica

  • Had electricity before the United States.
  • Had running water before the United States.
  • Had phone cards before the United States.
  • Their phone system was so sophisticated it was copied by AT&T.
  • Jamaica has the most "churches" per square mile of any country in the world. Source-Guinness Book of World Records.
    Over 1,600 "churches" all over Jamaica . That number is growing.
  • Jamaica was the first country in the Western world to construct a railway, even before the United States ! This was only 18 years after Britain !
  • Jamaica is the first Caribbean Country to gain Independence.
  • Jamaica is the first team from the English-speaking  Caribbean  to qualify for the Football (Soccer) World Cup. This was the 1998 championship.
  • Jamaica stands strong in 3rd place on the list of countries to win the Miss World titles the most. The only countries to have won it more than Jamaica is India ,  Venezuela  and the UK , but considering the size of Jamaica this achievement is monumental!
  • On his second voyage to the New World in 1494, the tip of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica was the first land sighted by Christopher Columbus.
  • Jamaica was the first commercial producer of bananas in the  Western Hemisphere.
  • Jamaica also was the first island in the Caribbean to produce rum on a commercial basis.
  • The Manchester Golf Club in Jamaica , established in 1868, is the oldest in the western hemisphere!.
  • Apart from the United States , Jamaica has won the most world and Olympic medals.
  • 2006-2007: World Fastest man and woman- you bet, are Jamaicans [Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson].
  • 2008/2009 - Olympic/World fastest man and woman - Usain Bolt and Shelley-Ann Fraser.
  • Jamaica has more multiple (two or more) live births than anywhere else in the world.
  • Jamaica was the first country to impose economic sanctions against the apartheid regime of  South Africa.
  • Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean.
  • Jamaica was the first Caribbean island to enact legislation, "The Motion Picture Industry (Encouragement) Act" to promote the making of films.
    Jamaica is the first country to sign a Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria grant agreement.
  • Jamaica was the first tropical country to enter the IOC Winter Olympics. The bob sleigh team's efforts inspired the film ‘Cool Runnings’.
  • Jamaica was the first colony  England  acquired by conquest. This was in the year 1655 when the Spanish were driven from the island.
  • We have the second largest butterfly in the world? (The Giant Swallowtail).
  • Jamaica was the first British colonial territory to establish a postal service (in 1688).
  • Jamaica was the first Caricom country to liberalize the telecommunications sector.
  • Jamaica is that Jamaica was the first country in the Caribbean region to launch a web site, jamaicatravel.com. This was in 1994!
  • Jamaican Flag is the ONLY flag in the world, that doesn't share any of the colors of the American flag.
  • And if you know none of the above, (which is fine) I expect you at least know that Jamaica is the birth place of Robert ("Bob") Marley!

by Wellesley Gayle www.my-island-jamaica.com