Portland is easily the most beautiful corner of Jamaica. The parish is home to unspoilt beaches, cliffs, mountains, rainforests, rivers and waterfalls. For an island which thrives on tourism, Portland has been spared from mass tourism by some miracle. The all-inclusive hotel model was introduced to Jamaica by local hotelier John Issa in 1978, but to date, there are still no all-inclusive hotels in Portland. Instead, the welcome alternatives are luxurious waterfront villas, rustic wellness retreats, intimate bed-and-breakfasts and secluded boutique hotels. Before now, my only trips to this parish had been via daytrips which limit the number of places and activities one can accomplish each trip. Thus, when a special occasion came around last December, I traded my usual daytrips for a weekend stay in the parish. Here’s how the Sea Cliff Resort exceeded my expectations.
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Now for the article:
The Sea Cliff Resort is located in Long Bay, a small community near Manchioneal in eastern Portland. I drove to Portland via Junction (A3) in St. Mary. This route can prove stressful because the winding road was cut through the mountains. Driving through the mountains of Jamaica carries with it the constant fear of irresponsible motorists and careening off the precipices into a certain doom. Anyway, after taking the second exit at the roundabout near Annotto Bay (A4), it’s smooth sailing until Port Antonio, the capital of Portland. From there, the road gets rough which adds at least 20 minutes to the usual travel time of two and a half hours. Sea Cliff is located on the main road and very easy to find. A security guard will let you through the gates and onto the property, show you where to park then direct you to the lobby. The check-in process took about five minutes, and our receptionist was very warm and friendly.
Sea Cliff Resort & Spa is a boutique hotel comprised of a main three storey building with fifteen rooms, three detached suites and two luxurious inns complete with private balcony Jacuzzis. Room rates are priced for two and vary according to the amenities available. Rates start at US$165 for the standard first (ground) floor rooms while the White Cap Suites cost US$450 per night. Rates also vary according to the island’s tourism seasons with summer attracting the cheapest rates, and holidays (December 21st to January 4th) attracting the most expensive rates. Their rooms, rates and amenities are clearly outlined on the hotel website. Local rates are available and can be redeemed with a valid local ID. Follow Sea Cliff on Instagram or call to get those prices.
Check-In At The Grand Suite
Before reaching my room (#8), I was impressed with the quaint rustic feel of the hotel. The structure of the main building has been standing for at least two decades, and the constant salty spray from the Caribbean Sea can age a building ahead of its time. However, the hotel is well maintained and the occasional creak or rusted nail only added to the hotel’s charm. I admired the cozy tropical style of the flooring, wooden ceiling, windows and bamboo frame four poster bed. In fact, they even decorated the bed with “Happy Birthday”. That thoughtful gesture really set the tone of my (our) vacation, and I was surprised they even knew we were celebrating a birthday. I guess I had mentioned it on the phone while making the reservation.
The showers are made from natural rock and consist of natural fixtures. Hot water from solar heaters is available, and fresh linen is provided at regular intervals. The balcony was my favourite part of the suite. The hotel was smartly built to afford each room an unbroken 180° view of the Long Bay cliffs. The sunrises and sunsets from the balcony were glorious. I could sit and watch that view of waves breaking at the reef then crashing by the cliffs forever. The Long Bay cliffs were equally as stunning as the view of Cousins Cove from the Poet Reef Villa.
Exploring Sea Cliff & Its Environs
The property has a salt water mineral pool and swim-up bar which is almost complete. There are deck chairs scattered around the pool as well as some game tables for groups. I enjoyed the tasteful bits and pieces of art around the property, and the Inn Seaclusion Edge sign and staircase make for a delightful photo op. Breakfast is included in room rates, and we were treated to a traditional Jamaican breakfast of steamed cabbage or callaloo, ackee and saltfish and fried dumplings every morning. A continental breakfast of eggs and pancakes was also available, along with tea, coffee, fresh fruit and juice.
Staying at the peaceful Sea Cliff hotel was enough to make my weekend memorable, but my adventurous partner and I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore eastern Portland. Reach Falls is the perfect spot to visit from Sea Cliff but we had both already visited several times. Instead, we opted to check out Turtle Bay Cove and Beach in Manchioneal, and had a blast. Read about that adventure here.
I must shout out Cover’s Restaurant, a recently opened jerk restaurant and bar in Long Bay. We met the jovial owner Mr. Cover and enjoyed a quiet off-the-grid evening at his roadside joint. Check out his restaurant when driving through this corner of Jamaica. His jerk chicken and pepper sauce were quite delicious, and the prices were very affordable and quoted in Jamaican dollars.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Sea Cliff review. If there’s any detail I left out, ask away in the comments and I’ll respond. I truly enjoyed my stay here and would recommend the hotel for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle for a few days. The main caveat is that the Wi-Fi is slow in this side of Jamaica, but use that as an excuse to unplug and soak up as much nature as you can. Also, there were no irons in the room so you’ll have to request one from the front desk. Let me know if you’ve stayed here, or would love to someday.
Lastly, remember to check out SIGHTSEE JAMAICA on Amazon. I’ve loved sharing my local finds with you on here for five years and thought that it’s about time I took that love of sightseeing Jamaica to the next level. If you’ve already purchased a copy, remember to leave a book review on Amazon! All support and feedback is appreciated. 🙂
‘Til next time!
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