Where to Eat in Port Antonio, Jamaica: the Boston Jerk Centre

Zan by the colorful fresh fruit shacks near the Boston Jerk Centre

It’s pretty much a given that any trip to Jamaica will involve some rum, reggae and jerk chicken. Jerk Cuisine, which involves a dry rub of allspice (known as pimento in Jamaica), scotch bonnet peppers, cloves, garlic, cinnamon, salt, and a few spices is the island’s riff on BBQ. The Boston Jerk Centre, located within easy walking distance to Boston Beach, is considered the birthplace of Jamaican Jerk style of cooking.

There was a whole system of expeditors and hype men outside Goldteeth Jerk Centre

The Boston Jerk Centre is a food court with hustle. The way this place works is several different vendors are attempting to sell you their jerk, and expediters are there to sort of coordinate the process. If you’ve ever eaten at the Satay Club in Singapore, it’s a a similarly confusing process.

Locals chilling at a bar in the Boston Jerk Centre

Fortunately, Nick (our driver from the Trident Villas) helped us get our Jerk on. Nick had suggested we try the jerked pork, which wouldn’t have been my pick but turned out to be the standout dish of the day. After a few minutes of negotiating, we had jerked chicken and pork– cooked on grills made from oil drums cut in half– and grilled sweet potatoes.

Pork and Potatoes on the grill at the Boston Jerk Centre

There were not a lot of tourists at the Boston Jerk Centre and I tried not wonder how long the meat had been sitting on those grills. I’m not usually a food stall kind of person, but Zan and I both wanted get the full on Jamaican Jerk experience.

Every culture seems to have a deep fried delicacy. In Jamaica, it’s Festival Bread

Festival bread being fried

We ate our lunch of Jerked pork & a Red Stripe back at GeeJam

We ate our jerk lunch– which cost under $10 per person- with a cold Red Stripe.  Sure enough, the jerk pork was the standout and the grilled sweet potato a yummy starch. It’s a great thing to do in Port Antonio.

Shaggy’s Jerk Centre

The Boston Jerk Centre is located in Fairy Hill, just a few minutes from Boston Beach. It’s just off the main highway about 9 miles east of Port Antonio, Jamaica.


Surf’s Up at Jamaica’s Boston Beach in Port Antonio

Boston Beach Panorama

I wasn’t even aware that Jamaica had a surf scene until I visited Port Antonio last month. But when my friend (and traveling companion), Zan, and I heard about about Boston Beach– and it’s chill surfing scene, we had to check it out for ourselves.

Surf shack at Port Antonio’s Boston Beach

We had a great driver, Nick, from the Trident, who drove us to this fantastic public beach 9 miles east of Port Antonio. Nick made sure we got settled on the beach and Zan found a local instructor named Formula who offered to give her an hour of surfing lessons (including board rental) for $25– a bargain compared to resort pricing we’ve seen elsewhere.

Palm trees and Caribbean surf at Boston Beach

I was more intent on the taking pictures than checking out the tasty waves, so I got comfy near one of the beach shacks with a Red Stripe lager. The locals were friendly and I very much enjoyed chilling out and having rasta vendors show me their beads for sale while Zan got reaquainted with a long board after a six year absence from surfing.

The amusing scene at Boston Beach

Formula had Zan standing up and riding the waves in less than 15 minutes. The surf was super gentle and Boston Beach is in a cove so it’s a really great place for those new to surfing to check it out without fear.

Scene from Boston Beach

I went body surfing once Zan and Formula were done with their surfing session and really enjoyed frolicking in the warm Caribbean seas. The surf is gentle here– it’s not going to impress Laird Hamilton or Kelly Slater. Boston Beach is a great place to get an entry level lesson or refresher course if you’re a surfing novice and a very pleasant place to body surf.

Zan and Formula hang loose after her surf lesson at Boston Beach

With it’s laid back scene and beautiful cove setting, you need not surf to spend an enjoyable afternoon at Boston Beach. Next time I visit I’m leaving my cameras and going to get Formula to give me a surf lesson.

A Peek Inside Jamaica’s Trident Castle

Flowers outside the Trident Castle

What do Arcade Fire and Snoop Lion have in common? The answer is  the Trident Castle, and atmospheric 1970s Caribbean vacation residence  built for a European baroness in Port Antonio, Jamaica. The Trident Castle is now in it’s prime pre-restoration glory and serves as a location for events as well as photo and video shoots.

Left: cantilevered windows are a trademark of the Jamaican Style Right: curved rails and peaked roofs

Arcade Fire rented out the entire castle and stayed here while they were in Jamaica recording Reflektor. Here Comes the Night was in heavy rotation on my mind’s soundtrack when I wandered over to explore the Trident Castle.

The Trident Castle is highly atmospheric

Located right next door to the glamorous Trident Hotel and Villas, the Trident Castle has an amazing rocky coastline views (think Jamaica’s answer to Big Sur) and pastel sunsets. The furnishings are glamorous and just long in the tooth enough to give the place a highly atmospheric vibe that is cool but a little bit creepy.

Left: Circular staircase with Chandelier Right: A piano at the Castle

The castle was pretty empty when I explored it and it’s location is just isolated enough that you can easily imagine a band making an album here. Props to the cool kids from Montreal for dealing with the 70s era bathrooms (slated to be refurbished) for music’s sake.

The glamorous yet creepy bedroom

The Trident Castle has exceptional bones and it’s easy to see why artists and photographers frequent book it as a location for photo and video shoots.

Left: The dramatic checkerboard floor in the Trident Castle entry Right: Foosball in the rec room

The grand yet empty and worn vibe of the rec room made the castle feel a bit like a glamorous sanatorium from the days that you could call a rehab center a “sanatorium.” There is also a small chapel on the property.

Moody pool at the Trident Castle

The Trident Castle sometimes offers brunch on Sundays (check with the staff at the Trident or GeeJam Hotel for details).

Pastel sunset in Port Antonio

Hipstamatic view of Trident Castle

Snoop Lion shot a videos for Here Comes The King at the Castle. Check out below.

Trident Castle
Anchovy, Port Antonio P.O. Box 7312
Portland, Jamaica, West Indies

Toll-free: 1-888 4 Geejam (433 526) – USA & Canada
Telephone: +1876 633 7000 | +1876 993 7000
Fax: +1876 620 0045
Email: reservations@geejam.com

Where to Eat in Port Antonio, Jamaica: Dickie’s Best Kept Secret

Shabby and Unchic: it doesn’t get cooler Dickie’s

Port Antonio doesn’t have a lot of sit-down restaurants, but Dickie’s Best Kept Secret is something of an institution. Anyone with a sense of adventure (and a sense of humor) should be in the know about Dickie’s. Located in a charming and funky ramshackle hut perched above the Caribbean Sea, Dickie’s is truly a unicorn. This is the sort of place you’re going to love or hate, I’m firmly in the #teamdickies category.

Dickie’s Best Kept Secret

Fire code violations and uneven floors are part of the wonderful Jamaican rabbit hole that is Dickie’s. A joint like this could never happen in a place like the U.S.. It’s not the right choice if you’re expecting a kids menu or even consistency.

Left: Dickie’s Best Kept Secret and Bougainvillea Right: Dickie’s Ramshackle Exterior

Seriously old school, you have to call ahead to book a table, since food is purchased daily, according to the expected number of patrons.  The concierge team at The Trident hooked us up.

Dickie’s clings to the rocky Caribbean Coast

It’s not clear if Dickie lives on site, but it definitely feels like he might. The decor is Jamaican shabby and decidedly un-chic. It’s lack of irony and pretension makes Dickie’s feel unintentionally cool. There is no menu at Dickie’s– you eat what they serve you. The cuisine feels a bit 70s fine dining inspired, but it works.  We started with a savory crepe-like omelette filled with vegetables that was both tasty and light.

The Jamaican Shabby Un-Chic interior at Dickie’s Best Kept Secret

Vegetable soup came next. It was uninspired, but there are worse views to have with your soup course. The main course was a delicious grilled spiny lobster, served with stuffed peppers. It was light and flavorful and tasted excellent washed down with a Red Stripe lager. Portions were generous.

Left: Dickie’s Best Kept Secret Interior Right: Eclectic Jamaican decor inside Dickie’s

Did I mention that some of my mismatched silverware had the American Airlines logo on it? If these walls could talk…

I would love to come to dinner party here

For dessert, we were served a garishly decorated marble cake that I feared based on appearance. It turned out to be really yummy. Not surprising considering the wacky sort of wonderful that is Dickie’s.

This light and fluffy omelette paired wonderfully with a cold Red Stripe Lager

Left: Stuffed peppers Right: Spiny Lobster was the stand out dish at Dickie’s

The vegetable soup seemed random– but was fine.

Left: the Garish marble cake was rather tasty Right: some American Airlines silverware added to the atmosphere

The eponymous Dickie

Dickie’s Best Kept Secret is the kind of place where you wouldn’t be surprised if Anthony Bourdain was sitting at the next table.

Dickie’s decor includes these fun windows

Dickie’s Best-Kept Secret

Location:  about 1 mile west of Downtown Port Antonio, on route A4
Hours: Daily 6:30-9:30pm (sometimes open for lunch– be sure to call ahead)
Phone: 876-809-6276

Port Antonio Portraits: A Mobile Photo Essay of Jamaica

Bartender serving fierceness in a Bar with No Name

It’s hard for me to distill my feeling for Port Antonio, Jamaica into words. All the ones that pop to mind– authentic, genuine, unspoiled– seem like travel cliches. And there was nothing about Port Antonio that is cliched. The people are genuine and unaffected. The ones I met were warm, friendly, and sweet. Here are some of my favorite mobile photography portraits of people I met in Port Antonio. I hope they can convey what I can’t express with words.

Friendly Portie Locals outside a barber salon

Port Antonio doesn’t have a Starbucks, but it does have lots of colorful shops that often have dancehall or reggae music blaring from them.

A photogenic rasta vendor at the Port Antonio market

I met this guy at the weekend market. He sold me a beaded bracelet for $2.

Sharp Dressed Albert Minot is the lead singer of the Jolly Boys

The Jolly Boys are Jamaica’s answer to Menudo… except if a member gets replaced, they get someone older. The average age of this boy band is probably 72. Check out this video for a killer cover of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab. The video was shot in Port Antonio.

Dickie, who owns Dickie’s Best Kept Secret.

Interesting Port Antonio trivia: Dickie who owns Dickie’s Best Kept Secret, an amazingly unique sit down restaurant in Port Antonio and Albert Minot, the lead singer of the Jolly Boys are cousins. You’ll often find Albert hanging out at Dickie’s when he’s not performing at the Bush Bar at GeeJam Hotel.

Local cook Belinda makes the best chicken I’ve ever tasted

I’ll tell you more about Belinda’s cuisine when I do a full post about rafting down the Rio Grande. Suffice it say say she cooks “Flintstones style.” She’s awesome.

Obligatory selfie with my BFF, Zan on Boston Beach in Jamaica

All images in this post were shot on my iPhone 5s using Hipstamatic Oggl or ProCamera apps.

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