Monkey Island in Portland, Jamaica

Monkey Island, also called Pellew Island, is a small uninhabited island off of Jamaica’s north coast that is open to visitors. Located in my absolute favourite parish (*parish is the name given to a major territory in the country, our equivalent to a state or province in other countries) on the island of Jamaica, Portland; Monkey Island is one of the many gems that locals and tourists alike revel in for a nice day out.

A little unknown fact about my home country of Jamaica is that it is not merely an island, but is in fact an archipelago. An archipelago for those who don’t know is the term given to a group, chain, cluster or collection of islands. The island known as Jamaica is actually the main landmass of a 28-island archipelago.

Many of the islands are really tiny and are no larger than a small football (soccer) field and are mostly a combination of sand, grass and coral from the Caribbean sea. The islands are uninhabited; with a few being used for fishing, recreational purposes and social gatherings. Some of the names of the other islands include Goat Island, Pigeon Island, Emerald Island, Santamaria Island, Morant Cays, Port Royal Cays and Sandals Cay (formerly called Kokomo Island). (NB Little Goat Island is currently being leased by the United States until 2040).

Monkey Island is rumored to have gotten its name from the small colony of monkeys that had lived on the island back in the day. The monkeys had belonged to Hiram Bingham III, an American explorer and politician. Hiram Bingham III is the former son-in-law of Alfred Mitchell and Anne Tiffany (heiress to Tiffany & Co. Jewelry) who had settled on the island until Mitchell’s death in 1911 at Folly Point. Monkey island is situated just offshore of Folly Point and is said to have been the playground for the animals as Mitchell did not keep them inside the home. Currently, there are no longer any monkeys on the island.

Portland is an approximately 2 1/2 hours drive away from Kingston via the junction roadway. Although a direct route, the road itself is rather winding so it’s best if an experienced driver drives the route.

Once in Portland, it’s fairly easy to find the Blue Lagoon using google maps to guide you. It’s approximately 15 minutes from Port Antonio. Just continue straight along the main road until you see the sign indicating the entrance to Blue Hole. Then, it’s a simple turnoff onto Blue Hole Road from the main road. You can’t miss it. The parking area is just past the villas seen on the left and parking is free.