Port Antonio is the capital of the parish of Portland on the northeastern coast of Jamaica, about 60 miles (100 km) from Kingston. It had a population of 12,285 in 1982 and 13,246 in 1991. It is the island's third largest port, famous as a shipping point for bananas and coconuts, as well as one of its most important tourist attractions, tourism being a major contributor to the town’s economy.
Port Antonio was a sleepy coastal town until the 1880s, when Lorenzo Dow Baker started the banana trade in Jamaica and successfully promoted Port Antonio as a destination for wealthy American
travellers. “Porty” became a “boom town”. The banana trade, and the tourists who came in the banana boats
, was once so large that at one time, weekly sailing from Port Antonio was greater than weekly sailing from the great English
port of Liverpool
The island was glamorized by Hollywood as a model of paradise for movies in the 1940’s and 50’s, such as "Club Paradise" and Cocktail. This image was added to by the arrival of the movie star Errol Flynn in 1946 when his yacht “Zaca” washed ashore in bad weather. He subsequently bought nearby Navy Island, the 18th century base of the British Navy in Port Antonio.
Many members of royal families, movie stars, great musicians, and well-known politicians have visited Port Antonio.
One popular sight in this area is the Blue Lagoon, Jamaica, which owes its colour to its depth of 200 feet, other sights include the secluded Frenchman's Cove Beach, the ruins of Folly Mansion and the historic DeMontevin Lodge. The Rio Grande River, Boston Bay and Reich Falls are also close by.
It is also known as the birthplace of billionaire Michael Lee-Chin
, reggae musicians Junior Murvin
and Mikey Dread
, abolitionist John Brown Russwurm
artist Watty Burnett
, and footballer Omar Brissett
Port Antonio is a hub for bus transport in the north east of the island.
Port Antonio was the terminus of the now abandoned railway from Kingston via Spanish Town and Bog Walk
, which was primarily built to serve the banana export trade.