The Kingston to Port Maria road (the Junction Road) passes through Castleton Botanical Gardens (in a very tranquil setting, well worth a visit, ask Roy Bennett to be your guide if available). The journey takes about two hours and there are plenty of minibuses. Port Maria itself is a sleepy and decaying old banana port but not without charm and lots of goats.
East of Port Maria in Robin’s Bay there is a camping and cottage resort on the beach, AL-C Sonrise Beach Retreat (formerly Strawberry Fields), standard or ‘deluxe’ cabins (sleep 5-6) with or without bath and tent sites, F, bath house, T/F9997169, two miles from village, transport essential or arrange pick-up with resort, meal plans and ecotour packages available, restaurant, nature trails, trampoline, volley ball, ping pong. A few miles to the west of Port Maria lies the attractive looking D Casa Maria hotel which has seen better days, PO Box 10, T9942323, F9942324, 20 rooms, beach, restaurants, bars.
Close by the hotel is Firefly, Noel Coward’s Jamaican home, now owned by the Jamaican National Trust. It is evocative of a stylish era and a highlight if you are interested in the theatre or film stars of that period and worth a visit if only for the magnificent view. 0830-1700 daily except Fri, US$10, T9940920. Noel Coward’s other property, Blue Harbour, is half a mile from the hotel, and is where he used to entertain film stars, royalty etc. It is now a guest house with accommodation for up to 15 in the two-bedroomed Villa Grande, the one-bedroomed Villa Chica and the four-roomed Villa Rose, all much as Coward left it although there has been some hurricane damage and it is dilapidated. Prices range from B-C depending on season and number of guests, fans, saltwater pool, coral beach, good snorkelling and scuba, gardens, lovely views, PO Box 50, Port Maria, St Mary, T9942262.
Oracabessa is another old banana port with a half completed marina and Golden Eye, the house where Ian Fleming wrote all the James Bond books. The house has been recently restored and is now a retreat owned by Chris Blackwell’s Island Outpost. The James Bond beach lies in front of the house, small but highly recommended as safe and child friendly. Bars and fish meals available. LL Goldeneye, three bedroom villa with full time staff. Goldeneye Village, has a further six bedrooms, cottage-style, for rent as a whole or individually, all-inclusive. To the west of Oracabessa is Boscobel, where the air strip for Ocho Rios is located. Opposite the air strip are numerous houses for rent.