Last week was very full and exhausting, so when the weekend came around, I decided to leave the grit of Kingston behind and join my fellow Cuso volunteers at the beach.  This time we went to Port Antonio, a beach community in the quiet parish of Portland. Port Antonio is to Ocho Rios what Sayulita is to Porto Vallarta – a little off the beaten track, a little quieter, but possibly even more beautiful than its well-known counterpart. It’s about a 2 hour bus ride through the harrowing Blue Mountains from Kingston to the north east coast of the island.

37 passengers, 20 seats

We stayed at Great Huts, an afro-Jamaican themed resort located on a cliff above Boston Bay. While more developed than my beloved Camp Cabarita, it shared the same love and appreciation for the Jamaican outdoors, and felt a lot like glamping (aka glamourous camping); guests sleep in bamboo huts with canvas doors and thatched roofs, but there is running water and (shared) proper toilets and shower facilities, as well as wifi, cable television in the main hut, an infinity pool, and a well-stocked bar. The hotel has an incredible lookout over the sea and access to a private beach area with hammocks, diving rocks and tidal pools for wading.

Great Huts lobby and dining room
View from the Great Huts lookout
This rude bird woke me up every morning and dive bombed me every time I walked by

It has been said that the cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. In my case, I washed the cares of the week away by floating around in the world famous Blue Lagoon for most of Saturday. The Blue Lagoon is a naturally occurring lagoon once thought to be bottomless (divers have since determined that is is about 180 feet deep). The most striking feature of the lagoon is its colour, a mystical blue that changes throughout the day depending on the angle of the sun. The site was originally called The Blue Hole, but the name was changed following the success of the Brooke Shields film “The Blue Lagoon“, which was partially filmed there.

World Famous Blue Lagoon
Boats floating in the Blue Lagoon

In the evening, we enjoyed a drumming and dance performance by local artists, who interpreted the history of the Jamaican people from their roots in Africa, through their enslavement, their emancipation, and their modern dance and music. It was moving and inspiring.

Traditional dancing by the local cultural group

The next day was spent lounging around the hotel and having a leisurely meal at the Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio before catching the bus home in the late afternoon. I was home just before sunset, relaxed and happy, and ready for the week ahead. If only every weekend was spent in Portland!

Errol Flynn Marina