Port Antonio and the East Coast

Food

The parishes of Portland and St. Thomas form Jamaica’s easternmost region and contain the island’s least exploited natural treasures. A quiet town in the center of Portland’s coast affectionately known as "Portie," Port Antonio boasts some of Jamaica’s most secluded beaches among a handful of other stunning natural wonders.

The world-famous Blue Hole, or Blue Lagoon, where ice-cold spring water mixes with the warm waves lapping in from the sea, is surreal beyond measure and reason in itself to visit the region.

Navy Island, an abandoned little paradise in the middle of Port Antonio's twin harbors, is surrounded by coral reefs and sand bars. Steep, lush hills rise from a coastline dotted with beaches, inlets, and mangroves. Reach Falls is a nature lover's paradise, where local guides take visitors by the hand along trails that only they can see through the middle of the river. In Bath, natural hot springs have a mineral composition that is said to cure almost any ailment. When one of these destinations occupies top priority on your daily agenda, life just seems to flow at the right speed. Perhaps the languid pace of this side of the island is just meant to be, and as a visitor you won't be sorry for the lack of crowds.

Located about 65 kilometers from Morant Bay around the eastern flank of the John Crow Mountains and about 95 kilometers east of Port Maria, Port Antonio is the largest town in Portland, and the parish capital. The fact that the area attracts only a minute fraction of the three million or so visitors Jamaica gets each year is either the way it should be, or a crying shame, depending on whom you ask. Those who depend on the tourist trade complain the area is not marketed to its potential, while it is said those who own the area's most extravagant private homes prefer it just the way it is.

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Longboarder Bar & Grill

Longboarder Bar & Grill (Tues-Thur 12-8, Fri-Sun 12-9, USD 8-25) serves fresh snapper, lobster and burgers beachfront on a quiet surfing beach in Roselle, St. Thomas between White Horses and Morant Bay. The restaurant was opened in early November, 2015 by Peter Silvera, a longtime surfer who'd been thrashing the waves at this spot for years and created the venue to share his little piece of paradise with likeminded souls over fresh seafood and beer.

In: Seafood

Juice'Is'

Dr. Aris La Tham is the owner of Sunfired Ra Foods and www.sunfired.com. He, along with his partner, Verona Rowe, own Juice'Is'. Juice'Is' is Moon Jamaica's top pick for delicious, raw vegetarian food and fresh natural juices in Portland. Enjoy splendid eatery, a beautiful view of the hills and free wifi!

In: Vegetarian

Yosch Cafe

Yosch Cafe (9:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., Mon-Sat, 1:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., Sun).

In: Cafés & Pastry Shops

Croissants Unlimited

Belgian proprietor vera makes the best croissants in the northeast, if not Jamaica, and that's from French Canadians. Chocolate, almond, original (plain) and ham and cheese (US$1.25-1.50 each).

In: Cafés & Pastry Shops

Chill Out Beach Bar & Restaurant

Chill Out Beach Bar & Restaurant (10 a.m.10 p.m daily, US$530) is a popular spot on Long Bay Beach for a bite or a drink. Chill Out hosts dances on special occasions. Local dishes and excellent seafood are served.

In: Bars, Food

Mille Fleurs

Mille Fleurs (entrèes run US$25-40 ) is open daily for breakfast (8-10:30 a.m.), lunch (noon-2:30 p.m), and dinner (7-9:00 p.m). Mille Fleur changes its menu on a daily basis, serving creative dishes that emphasize the use of local, fresh ingredients, like jerk meat with papaya salsa or a pimento-roasted steak with rum-honey glaze served alongside grilled banana or pineapple. Reservations strongly recommended. Local jack fruit is also infused into salads and pesto dishes served with cassava flour pasta.

In: Seafood, Jamaican, Meat

Wi Yard Anna Banana

Anna Banana Restaurant (11 a.m.11 p.m daily) serves seafood and meat items prepared with Jamaican, Caribbean and soul food flair. Fish dishes cost about US$12/pound, with the pepper shrimp (highly recommended) at US$16/pound. There’s a happy hour 6-7 p.m on Fridays, offering a 25 percent discount on all drinks and a selector playing music to keep patrons entertained till closing.

In: Food, Jamaican

Soldier's Camp

Soldier’s Camp (6 p.m.-you say when), better known as Soldji’s, draws a healthy cross-section of locals on Wednesday and especially Friday nights for deliciously seasoned janga, or crayfish, as well as jerk chicken, pork, and curry goat. Special order can be arranged on any other night. The bar is open daily 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Everold "Soldji" Daley, a former soldier with the U.S. Army, opened the joint in 2003 after returning to Jamaica in 1998 from the US. Entrees run US$6-15.

In: Jamaican

Woody's Low Bridge Place

Woody’s Low Bridge Place (10 a.m.10 p.m daily), run by Charles "Woody" Cousins and his charismatic wife Cherry, is definitively the coolest snack bar and restaurant in Port Antonio; it serves what is quite possibly the best burger (US$2.50) in Jamaica. Woody’s Low Bridge Place opened in 1986 but Woody has been in the tourism business since 1963.

In: Food, Jamaican, Meat