There is no doubt about it that Negril was our least favorite place in Jamaica, and if we knew then what we know now, we would have skipped it and headed straight to Port Antonio. Porty, as the locals call it, is such a magical place and we are seriously considering settling down there one day. If you want to experience the real Jamaica, outside the walls of an all-inclusive resort and away from mass tourism, you will love Port Antonio and here is why.
1. The Beaches Are More Beautiful
Don’t get me wrong, I am sure Negril’s Seven Mile Beach used to be very beautiful at some point. But now, all that is left is hundreds of annoying hustlers trying to sell you everything from massages to expensive tours, and sunburned tourists laying on plastic beach chairs under colorful umbrellas. Not to mention all the development on the beach. It’s so bad that there is barley a spot you can just sit down and relax for free. Luckily, we went during low season and there were a few properties that were closed so we just sat on their part of the beach, but I can’t even imagine how it is during high season. Needless to say, we felt very uncomfortable there.
Port Antonio on the other hand has a handful of undeveloped beaches where anyone, not just the ones with a big fat wallet, can enjoy the beautiful turquoise blue water without being harassed every few minutes.
2. Hustlers Are Pretty Much Nonexistent
Sure, even in Porty there is a few people here and there who try to sell you stuff but as soon as you say “No, thank you”, they drop their hustler act and you can have a genuine conversation with them. People gotta eat but overall the locals of Port Antonio do not depend on tourism as their bread and butter.
3. The Locals Are Friendlier
Since people here don’t depend on tourism, they are naturally friendlier and more genuine towards strangers. We had more than a handful of positive interactions with locals in Port Antonio. We played dominoes with them, were invited to dinner and got sightseeing recommendations to amazing places very few travelers will ever lay their eyes upon. Port Antonio is a place stuck in time and the locals here move at a very slow, relaxed and nonchalant pace. So do as the locals do and take it easy mon!
See also: Photo Essay: The People of Jamaica
4. There Are More Things To Do
Nobody likes relaxing on the beach more than we do, but even we get tired of the beach at some point. Luckily, there is plenty of things to do. You can hike the surrounding Blue Mountains, float down Rio Grande on one of the infamous bamboo rafts, explore the nearby waterfalls, swim in the mineral water at the Blue Lagoon, surf at Long Bay, get lost in one of the remote villages nearby or wander the lively streets of the town center. Trust me, there is something to do for everyone.
All that Negril has to offer besides a seven mile long beach is … umm nothing really. Unless you are into all-inclusive resorts, overpriced bars and restaurants, and souvenir stores.
5. Everything Is Cheaper
Everything from accommodations to food costs at least 30 – 50% more in Negril than it does in Port Antonio. Vendors in Negril know that those all-inclusive travelers don’t care and will pay whatever, as long as it is cheaper than what they would pay back home.
However in Port Antonio, you pay what the locals pay. People are usually honest about their prices here and do not charge you more just because you are a tourist. Of course there are exceptions to the rule but overall you don’t have to worry about being ripped off.
See also: How Much Do Things Cost in Jamaica
6. It’s The Birthplace Of Jerk Chicken!
Need I say more?!? Okay, maybe a little bit more. There is no way you can come to Jamaica and settle for jerk meat that is grilled in a half-cut oil drum. Though it is still tasty that way, there is nothing like the jerk meat you’ll find in Boston Bay, Port Antonio where the jerk meat is grilled on pimento wood, i.e. the authentic way. Trust me, it makes a huge difference and that alone makes it already worth visiting Porty.
See also: 15+ Must Eat Dishes in Jamaica
7. Less Tourists And No All-Inclusive Resorts
Port Antonio’s remote location on Jamaica’s northeast shore makes it a bit more difficult to reach for the average tourist, which is why Port Antonio is still mostly undeveloped. You won’t find any all-inclusive resorts here, nor will you have to share your spot on the beach with thousands of others. Matter of fact, during the week you will most likely be one of the only people on the beach.
8. Grass Is Greener On Porty’s Side
Port Antonio is the perfect panorama picture of natures finest work, with tropical jungles, lush green mountains and a crystal clear blue ocean. Porty is a haven for nature lovers and people who can appreciate Porty’s green beauty. So yes, I will say it again, the grass is greener on Porty’s side.
Sorry to everyone that loves Negril but Port Antonio offers the more authentic Jamaican experience of the two. If you are looking for all inclusive resorts, overcrowded attractions, hustlers and you love doing exactly what guidebooks tell you to do, by all means go to Negril but if you want to experience the real Jamaica, skip Negril and go to Port Antonio!
See also: 10 Travel Tips for Jamaica