While our first stop on our Jamaica trip satiated my design cravings, the next stop – Mockingbird Hill in Port Antonio – fulfilled so much more. It was here that we spent the majority of the trip, swimming in waterfalls (!!!), soaking up sunshine on the beaches and tasting some of the most delicious food the island has to offer at Mille Fleurs – the restaurant at Mockingbird Hill.Organized by our hosts at the hotel, these were some of our favorite Jamaican adventures around Portland!
Obviously, when in Jamaica, you must experience the beaches. Winnifred Beach is special to the Jamaican community because it’s one of the last remaining free beaches left. Most beaches charge for visitors or are owned by the resorts. Can you imagine? Living on an island and not having access to the beaches? If you make it to Winnifred you must save room for lunch at Cynthia’s where we devoured our fish right off the bone.
Reach FallsWe thought we were going for a ‘hike’ along the waterfalls, but it turned out we were swimming from pool to pool at the beautiful Reach Falls! This was probably my favorite for the simple reason that the water was so refreshing and it felt nice to get out and be a little active after so much flying and travel. Our guides were awesome too – we have him to thank for the great photos. At the end of the hike, a refreshing drink of fresh-from-the-tree coconut water, and a lesson in how to crack into to it to eat the jelly too! On the way home, our driver decided to treat us to a pit stop at his bar in Long Beach… Loved this simple spot right on the beach where you could dip your toes in the sand and come away with some cool souvenirs as well. It was very chill, just like you’d hope.
Rafting on the Rio GrandeThe perfect way to spend a more relaxing day is to hop on one of these bamboo rafts and float leisurely down the Rio Grande River, stopping for lunch at Miss Belinda’s where she cooks up some of the most delicious, authentic Jamaican food you’ll eat. Plus, what’s more fantastic than filling up on ackee and fresh fish with on the banks of the river? Not much. But let’s talk about the hotel… First off, the property was recently voted one of the Top Green Hotels in the World, which is a testament to how seriously owners Barbara and Shireen take this responsibility. Not only is it a way of life for them, but they are intent on teaching their guests and staff about how to be more eco conscious and friendly during their stay. The restaurant – Mille Fleurs – is incredibly delicious, and features seasonal ingredients that support local community projects for fair and organic produce as well as from their own garden! Barbara oversees the menu which is rooted in traditional Jamaican dishes with a twist, and I was so impressed with our meals – especially dinners! The view from The Perch is a fantastic spot to enjoy breakfast, while the gardens and pool below offer a quiet retreat for reading and relaxing. Apparently both Mockingbird Hill and Sussex House are a popular destination for birders, too! In fact, there are many options for activities to do with Mockingbird Hill as your home base. I wish we had had time for more, as I would have loved to do the coffee tour, but we opted for the music tour in Kingston, which you’ll see in the next post! Barbara, Shireen and their staff help organize it all, and leave you in good hands. They were such a lovely pair to dine with and learn from on our trip – it makes a huge difference staying at a hotel where the owners are there every day to be a part of your experience. I only hope our paths will cross again someday!