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Vistors participate in activities at the Charles Town Maroon community

Visitors to Reach Falls enjoy the emerald river at the base of the waterfall

Portland - the place you'd rather be

'There is no place in the world to me like Portland,' exclaimed Maggie Hemmings as she welcomed Jen Abbott, and her daughters to her hometown. 'The rugged coastlines, the verdant landscape, the jaw-dropping vistas are so good for the soul,' she gushed.

Portland overlooks the Caribbean Sea and is a place of beauty. Affectionately called 'Porti,' this parish is decorated with lush vegetation, the Blue Mountain ranges, undulating rivers, towering waterfalls and pristine beaches. Undoubtedly, Portland is the desired go-to place to be one with nature. The hospitable residents have played host to countless visitors, as Portland was the cradle of Jamaica's tourist industry from as early as the late 1,800s.

One of the first hotels to be built in Jamaica and signaled the beginning of the Government's commitment to the development of the island's tourism sector.

Also dubbed the birthplace of the world-renowned jerk cuisine, a visit to Portland is incomplete without a stop at the Boston jerk centre, or any of the other jerk spots that serve up delicious roadside meals. Portlanders are very proud of their beloved parish and this is willingly shared with all visitors to the parish. During their trip to Portland, Hemmings took Abbott and her girls on an excursion. As they meandered down the iconic Rio Grande river on rafts captained by skilled raftsmen, they soaked in the views of the foothills of the Blue Mountains.

As the rafts pulled up on the riverbanks for a lunch stop at Belinda's, Abbott commented on the rustic ambience and the fact that the meal was prepared on wood fire. She broke into a broad smile and declared, "This is luxury" There was no holding back on her joy as her smile got even broader. During the meal, one could hear sounds of satisfaction and delight as they consumed all that was set before them.

Their Portland excursion also took them to Reach Falls, the eco-attraction hidden in the Montane Forrest of the John Crow Mountain range. Abbott and her daughters were agog at its beauty, and took turns to dive into the emerald river pool at the base of the falls. The boat ride on the famous Blue Lagoon and to Pellew Island provided a never-before experience that elicited more 'oooohhs' and 'aaahhs'. They were amazed by the interesting things to do and see. This confirmed what Hemmings had always known, Portland is the place you would rather be. But hearing it from her guests stirred within her a greater appreciation for her beloved Porti.

But what's not to like about Portland - in fact, there are so many more things to love about Portland. Lounge in the Frenchman's Cove, where the river flows right into the ocean. Or walk on white sands of Boston Bay Beach, or get an adrenaline rush as you surf on the crest of breaker waves. You may prefer to dive into the inviting waters at Winnifred Beach. And there are plenty of menu items to satisfy your hunger as the food vendors offer delicious options.

There is still more. The Errol Flynn Marina has the distinction of being the only Caribbean marina capable of handling the largest yachts in the world, yet it offers a quiet and intimate space to relax and unwind. Learn about Jamaica's vibrant cultural heritage that is inextricable linked to the Maroons. Visit the Charles Town community and learn about the resilience and exploits of the Maroons at the museum, the library and the Asafu Ground.

So what is your favourite Portland spot or your idyllic Portland getaway? This Jamaican gem is truly a treasure to locals and visitors alike. It is no wonder Errol Flynn described it as 'more beautiful than any woman I have ever seen'. 

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