Friday, 11 May 2012

Jamaica is beautiful, friendly, and unpopular among cruisers. We arrived around 3 pm on Wednesday, the entrance was well marked and we pulled right up to the dock at Errol Flynn Marina, in Port Antonio. There we were greeted by the "harbour master", who also runs the marina. They called up the health department, customs, and immigration and over the next couple hours they all came to out boat to pass us through quarantine, and clear us into the country. All done while chatting with locals and drinking beers. Well deserved beers after 4 frustrating days at sea, we really had to work the boat (no wind, to much wind, changing wind directions). Then we had people come up to offer to work on the boat, no begging, which was awesome. Someone even went and got us a Jamaican courtesy flag for $10 which is half what we would have paid in the US. First impressions have been excellent.

We felt really safe walking around town, Portland parish has the lowest crime in all of Jamaica. Plus Port Antonio, despite efforts, has never flourished as a tourism hotspot. There was a resort on the little island protecting the harbour, but it has long gone under. The mountains with waterfalls and hotsprings are right at your door step and there is surfing 15 min drive away. Prices are cheap, relative to the Bahamas, which is a great relief. The air is humid and tropical, and everywhere is green. Port Antonio is definitely old Jamaica, not your tourist hub.

In the harbour there are a few cruising boats anchored, and the marina charges $15 a day to anchor, use their dinghy dock, wifi, showers, laundry, and it's all very safe and protected. The managers run off anyone trying to solicit cruisers, and tell them to get outside the gates. There is a cute little pool and bar, that looks over the water and towards the mountains. This place is a throwback to old caribbean ways, before cruiseships, all inclusive hotels, and duty free malls. I would recommend any cruiser heading south to stop here, the best part is it is free to clear in and clear out.

Harbour sunset view
Poolside pub
 View of the East Harbour
Jerk Chicken meals.... mmmmmm so good

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