Jamaica, Jamaica

Errol Flynn once declared, ‘Jamaica’s more beautiful than any woman I’ve ever known.’ Flynn fell in love with Jamaica in the 1940s and Ian Fleming and Noel Coward swiftly followed. Montego Bay and Negril still lure in the tourists, but the parish of Portland is a quieter spot, despite being home to some of the island’s most seductive beaches. Expect warmth in more ways than one – spicy jerk chicken, dancehall queens with pulse-quickening moves, sea and sand stroked by sunrays, sizzling soca bars and belly-burning rum. Luckily, Jamaica also excels at cooling down and chilling out. If the heat gets too much, dip into the turquoise waters, sip an ice-cold Red Stripe, and turn your lights down low…

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When to go

Port Antonio is a year-round affair. The rainy season (June and October) is actually a popular time to visit, with travellers revelling in the torrential tropical downpours (the rain’s warm at least) that keep Portland so green and lush. Storms are generally short-lived, and there are plenty of dry and sunny days in between. High season is mid December–mid April, and hurricane season is from the beginning of June until the end of November. It’s wise to avoid going during the American spring break (March–April), though Portland is less affected by this than Montego Bay and Negril.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Fly from London to Kingston airport with BA (www.britishairways.com) or Virgin (www.virgin-atlantic.com). The main American carriers also run flights from the usual hubs, along with Air Jamaica (www.airjamaica.com). Air Canada connects Toronto and Kingston (www.aircanada.com). A private transfer flight from Kingston to your hotel costs from US$675 for a single trip in a four-seater plane. You’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the Blue Mountains on the way. If you want to make a grand entrance, hire a chopper from Kingston to your hotel for around US$995 each way (for four passengers).
  • Automobiles

    Port Antonio is a two-hour drive from Kingston – drive along the coast or through the mountains (then swap on your way back). If you’re planning on exploring, it makes sense to hire a 4x4 and a driver.
  • Taxis

    A route taxi in Jamaica is essentially a high-speed minibus, offering an on-demand (stops anywhere) service for a random selection of people, travelling in vaguely the same direction. Ask your hotel to book your journeys with a trusted local cab driver (they will also give you an idea of journey costs). Keep your cabbie’s number and be his best customer throughout your stay.

Oracabessa Bay

Oracabessa Bay

Swing down from your tree-top perch and explore Jamaican beach life at the tranquil Goldeneye Hotel & Resort. This idyllic cluster of whitewashed cottages and suites is indeed named after the Brosnan Bond vehicle, but this is no gimmick: Ian Fleming penned all 14 of his James Bond novels in his villa, now the hotel’s centrepiece. The particularly private Lagoon Suite 8 – with a sumptuous king-size bed, balcony that juts out over the lagoon and secluded garden with private outdoor shower – seems made for honeymooners, and we'll warn you now that you may never want to leave. But, your Mr & Mrs Smith planner could help to arrange a day spent on horseback galloping through the waves at nearby Chukka Cove, or a trip with local fishermen to haul in the day’s catch (which hotel chefs will cook for you). Or simply stay put and stage your own action-adventure in the resort’s watersports area. Later, reward your physical stunts at the swim-up hillside spa (where you can book a full day of treatments) and cue the romantic scenes in the treetop restaurant. To quote the resort’s namesake film…Enjoy it while it lasts.

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Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

Start at the top, literally: the sky-skimming Kanopi House. Set deep in the rainforest and curtained in tropical greenery, this group of eco-chic tree houses boasts hand-carved four-poster beds, outdoor showers and wraparound verandahs,. And the hotel’s philosophy is equally green – all the wood is sustainable, and local craftsmen and artists contributed to the design. You may never leave your jungle lovenest but, if you do, your Mr & Mrs Smith concierge has loads of suggestions for exploring the natural surroundings. Set off on a dragon-hunting excursion to the bottomless Blue Lagoon, which local legend says is home to a mythical winged critter. Perhaps a lazy float down the Rio Grande, with a boatman steering your passage as you relax back in your two-person settee, is more your speed. Whatever you decide, you’ll be sure to create memorable experiences that will last a lifetime.