Port Antonio first came to the attention of the travel world thanks to resident Errol Flynn. The rambunctious actor had a home on Navy Island, just off the coast of Port Antonio, and entertained many celebrities in his verdant hideaway.
In those days, the hot spot in town was the Titchfield Hotel. The guest list was star-studded: Rudyard Kipling, Randolph Hearst, J.P. Morgan Jr., and others.
In the 1950s Errol Flynn started what has become one of Jamaica’s top tourist activities – rafting. The notorious lover began floating women down the expansive river, naming one section that winds between two boulders Lovers Lane. Before long, tourists were floating down the river two by two on rafts poled by expert raftsmen. The activity has spread to several other rivers in Jamaica, but the Rio Grande remains the largest operation of its kind.
Errol Flynn wasn’t the only celebrity to grace Port Antonio. Poet Ella Willa Wilcox called this “the most exquisite spot on earth.” Robin Moore came to the area to pen The French Connection.
An historic house here stands as a tribute to lost love. The ruins of Folly, built by a wealthy American for a sweetheart who would not come to Port Antonio, can still be seen near the main road. Why is this home now in ruins? Seawater instead of freshwater was used in making the cement and the castle crumbled.
In more recent years, many other celebrities have frequented this site and Port Antonio has found its way into the movies.
One star-studded site is the Blue Lagoon (remember the Brooke Shields movie?). The beautiful swimming hole that’s been termed bottomless because of its uncanny blue hue is actually about 180 feet deep. Take a walk through the restaurant to see the many celebrities who have visited, their photos framed on the walls. Nearby, Boston Beach is the place to go on the island for jerk, slow-cooked in pits.