Portland – Special Attractions

Somerset Falls

Tumbling down the hillsides, Daniel’s River makes a beautiful painting of the landscape.  Miniature waterfalls along the narrow gorge add to this awesome scenery, with the mist and the steady rush of water blotting out the outside world.

The Nonsuch Caves

As the popular story goes, these caves were “ discovered” in 1957 by a goat that seemed to have lost its way.  Many Portlanders take this “discovery” to task, as having been home to Tainos in a bygone era, the caves were only rediscovered in 1957.  Mother Nature seems to have used her free hand to create similar structures to what man has created to adorn the chambers.

Blue Lagoon

A 55-meter (180 ft) deep extinct volcano, surrounded by lush tropical foliage, underground streams feed the Blue Lagoon.  In its heyday, this area was famous for water skiing.

Rio Grande

In recent times, rafting on this river has become a great tourist attraction.  Rafting starts at Berrydale and continues for about 4 kilometres ending at Rafter’s Rest.

Reach Falls

Situated in Manchioneal, these breathtaking falls are a scenic highlight of the area.

Crystal Springs

This is a recreational centre which boasts 156 acres.  Among the facilities offered are fishponds and river, picnic grounds and a garden.

Navy Island

Seven minutes by boat from Port Antonio.  Attractions include a guided tour by reservation.  There are also cottages and villas, a marina bar, restaurant and white sand beach with water sporting activities.

Titchfield School

The main building of Titchfield was at one time a military barracks, built in 1743 to protect planters against invasion and attacks from the Maroons.  Fort George, which overlooks the harbour, was built in 1729.  Titchfield was founded in 1786 as a “free” school for the education of the youth of the parish.

Fair Prospect Comprehensive High School

This is the location of the Fair Prospect Windmill Tower.  The Tower was used to lift water from an underground source, which is now a dry cave.  The tower was converted to a residence, however, the integrity of the exterior of the windmill is maintained.

Seaman’s Valley

This property has on it the ruins of the Seaman’s Valley Great House and the first European cemetery in this area of Portland.  Here George Fuller, famous English superintendent of the Moore Town Maroons was buried.  The Seaman’s Valley road leads to Moore Town, the oldest settlement of the entire valley, and also to the headquarters of the Eastern Maroons.

Cenotaph – Port Antonio

The Cenotaph, Port Antonio, is situated opposite the market.  It was erected in 1929 by voluntary subscription and is dedicated to those who died in the First World War.

On each side of it are four marble plates, one bearing the following inscription:

 

                             “In memory of the sons of Portland

                             who made the supreme sacrifice in

                             The great war.”

De Montevin Lodge

De Montevin Lodge situated on Fort George Street, Port Antonio, is a very good example of Victoria Vykes gingerbread architecture.  It is considered to be a mansion in New England, ships captain architecture, complete with marble tubs and basins and etched glass windows.

It was the home of Eugene De Montevin Gideon, M.D., born in Portland on the 21st of May 1885.  He was the eldest son of the Honourable D.S Gideon and Mrs. Gideon.

The De Montevin Lodge itself is over a hundred years old.  The house was run as a guesthouse before it was bought over 35 years ago.

Old Nanny Town

This Maroon citadel was not by any means the nearest site to reach.  Situated on Nanny Town Hill High above sea level, this was the most famous settlement of the Maroons.  It had over 140 houses, most of which were burnt by the militia and rebuilt by the Maroons during the four years of fighting which preceded the treaty.

It has been named after Nanny, the great Maroon leader who brought the Maroon many of their victories during the first Maroon War.  Built around 1723, it was not discovered by the English until 1728, when Sambo, an African led them to it.

Today there is little to see, but the ruins of the barracks built by the occupying troops between 1734 and 1740.  A plaque commemorates the occupancy of Nanny Town by Colonel Brooks and the British troops under him.

Moore Town (New Nanny Town)

In 1739, Cudjoe, Nanny’s brother, signed a peace treaty with the British.  The Maroons thereby became the first group of blacks to succeed in gaining their freedom from their colonial masters.  Nanny, however, refused to sign a treaty with the British but agreed to a truce.  Nanny’s Maroons, after the truce, divided themselves into two groups, one of which went with her brother Quaco to Crawford Town and the other group followed Nanny to a new settlement, New Nanny Town, now called Moore Town.

The success of settlements like Moore Town, depended to a large extent on the quality of the Superintendent and Moore Town was fortunate in obtaining good ones.  The most famous of these was Lt. George Fuller, an Englishman, who became the Acting Barracks master, and later Superintendent at Moore Town between 1809 and 1823.  He also started the Fuller family through marriage with a Maroon girl.

Moore Town is today governed by a Colonel, a Maroon given the honorary title earned by his ancestors. 

RAFTING ON THE RIO GRANDE

Rafting on the Rio Grande is a unique experience and one that has been enjoyed by royalty is one of the most popular attractions of Portland.

The Rio Grande is one of the major rivers of Jamaica. The river’s course passes through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery in the island. The rafts are made of the sturdy bamboo that grows wild in Portland. The art of making these rafts has been passed down from father to son for generations. Each raft is thirty feet long, with a seat mounted towards the rear on a raised platform to provide room for two persons.

The trip begins at one of the two beaches upriver. The first of these is at Grant’s Level, and is about a half-mile above Berrydale Landing, the second beach. At both, raftsmen await like Jamaican gondoliers to take visitors on this scenic trip.  

Once the raftsman shoves off from the landing, the beauty of Jamaica unfolds like a kaleidoscope of colour as the river twists and winds through the hills. The raftsman has a load of intriguing information about the river and about Jamaica. The rafting trip terminates downriver at Rafter’s Rest where the river meets the sea.