Portland Paradise: Errol Flynn, the Blue Lagoon, Boston Jerk Centre and Frenchman’s Cove

Frenchman's Cove logo, Portland, JamaicaIn 2011, Beenie Man released Sex on the Beach (above), a risqué track with a first verse styled as telephone conversation which concludes with the rapper telling a lonely lady to meet him for fun and drinks at the exclusive Frenchman’s Cove resort in Jamaica, Orantes Moore.

Although the cove is a legendary tourist destination with an elaborate and colourful history, up until recently, I knew little about the property, and even less about the parish where it is located.

That changed a few weeks back, when I decided to celebrate my first year living in Jamaica by booking a two-night stay at the resort and driving to the picturesque parish of Portland for a weekend of sightseeing and exploration.

Frenchman's Cove, PortlandThe property opened in 1962 and was originally billed as the world’s first all-inclusive and most expensive holiday resort, receiving patronage from celebrity clientele including the Queen of England, the Beatles, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Winston Churchill.

What I discovered was another, very impressive, aspect of Jamaica. Frenchman’s Cove is a tranquil 48-acre property comprising nine secluded cottages, each with either their own private seafront beach or ocean view.

Frenchman's Cove, Bedroom, PortlandPrices start at around £70/€80/US$110 per-night and although the cottages are not equipped with internet access or a TV (if I’m honest; this took me a while to appreciate), the décor, atmosphere and lush vegetation forces even the most urbanised, overanxious, iPad/smartphone-addicted technophile to relax, forget about work and reflect upon the exotic surroundings.

A 20-minute drive west of the cove brings you straight into the centre of the parish’s capital, Port Antonio, which 19th century American poet Ella Wilcox described as ‘…the most exquisite port on earth’.

Errol Flynn Marina, Port Antonio, Portland1930s Hollywood legend Errol Flynn loved the town so much he purchased hundreds of acres of land in and around Port Antonio, including the charming marina, which bears his name today.

It’s easy to understand how Flynn fell in love with the place; Portland is a cool, polite, welcoming and tourist-friendly parish, which boasts a wide variety of shops and places of interest, and the lowest crime rate on the island.

A short drive east of the cove is the world-famous Blue Lagoon, where Tom Cruise shot scenes for his films Cocktail (above) and Knight and Day.

Blue Lagoon, Portland, Port AntonioAccording to our guide, Phil the fisherman (above), the bottomless lagoon is a natural phenomenon comprising a unique blend of sea and river water with an injection of fresh spring water directly from the centre of the Earth.

Apartments in this exceptionally beautiful area range from £60/€72/US$99 per-night for a ‘basic’ room to £3,600/€4,400/US$6,000 per-night for more high-end accommodation (private chef and butler included).

Supermodel Naomi Campbell and Jamaican billionaire Butch Stewart own villas by the lagoon and apparently, Mariah Carey, the Marley Clan, Puff Daddy, 50 Cent, Sean Paul and Shaggy are regular visitors.

House for sale, Blue Lagoon, PortlandFor those with deep pockets and a penchant for luxury, a property like the one above, which is currently for sale, will set you back a cool £2.5m/€3m/US$4m.

20-minutes further east is Boston Jerk Centre where dinners are treated to arguably the best spicy chicken, pork and conch the Caribbean has to offer.

Trident CastleThe jerk centre and Anna Banana’s exceptional restaurant in Port Antonio are two of the best places to eat, although there are several decent food spots dotted around the parish.

Sadly, I was unable to visit the increasingly popular Trident Castle (pictured above) and five-star hotel, or the music-inspired Geejam resort, but that provides an excellent excuse to return, back to the parish where I experienced a weekend of sublime paradise.

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