Port Antonio, Jamaica

Photo: Kanopi House

The Blue Lagoon is one of the most beautiful spots in Jamaica. The seemingly bottomless lagoon—it’s at least 200 feet deep—lies on the island’s northeast coast. It’s a mixture of warm salt water (from the Caribbean Sea) and cool freshwater (that bubbles from underground streams). The color is a translucent turquoise first thing in the morning. It changes to glistening sapphire and then royal blue later in the day. Lush greenery practically encircles the whole thing.

For most people, the Blue Lagoon is a day trip. Port Antonio, the closest city, lies 60 miles (about two hours) north of Kingston and nearly 125 miles (nearly three-and-a-half hours) east of Montego Bay. Since you’re staying just steps from the lagoon, you’ll have this gorgeous spot practically to yourself before the crowd arrives.

Kanopi House is the perfect hotel for this remote location. The family-owned hotel sits on six acres at the end of a steep, bumpy driveway. It’s surrounded by huge banyan trees, thickets of bamboo, and tangled vines. It features nine stilted treehouses, including the Living Room, which were built out of sustainable wood by local craftsmen. Plus it has a view of Alligator Head, a popular lookout point, in the distance.

Photo: Kanopi House

You make your way through the blooming garden—full of wide pink hibiscuses, sweet-smelling ginger lilies, and hidden orchids—to reach the Living Room when you arrive. Handcrafted mahogany daybeds topped with thick white cushions litter the communal space. The House Kitchen, a bar, and colorful art are here, too. You happily accept a Red Stripe and an offer to be escorted out to your treehouse.

Your expectations weren’t high when you booked your treehouse. Glorified camping was your fear. Boy, were you wrong. The dark-wood treehouse features a high-beamed ceiling, jalousie doors, and retractable shutters. There’s a cozy sitting area, a little kitchenette with Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, and a four-poster bed. An overhead fan keeps the space cool as it catches the sea breeze. Plus Bose speakers and an iPod dock are ready for your reggae playlist. A treehouse is a perfect beach house.

After you settle in, you follow the sandy path to the Blue Lagoon. You can’t wait to see the water that your Jamaican dreams have been made of for so long. It’s even more stunning in person. You immediately set tomorrow’s sights on deserted Monkey Island just beyond the fringe reef.

Eventually, you return to Kanopi House for dinner on the pink limestone terrace. The description of freshly caught snapper, garlicky callaloo, boiled yams, and roasted breadfruit made your mouth water earlier. Then you sit on your treehouse’s deck with another Red Stripe and listen as the sounds of the jungle compete with the nearby waves until you get tired. Don’t fight the sleepiness if you want the lagoon all to yourself in the morning.

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