Hot Jamaica Beaches: Miles of Soft Sand to Sink your Toes In!

25 Nov

By: Shelly Anglin Smith

When the average foreigner thinks about Jamaica, one of the first things that person will think about are our beaches. With 200 miles of beautiful white sand and crystal clear waters, Jamaica has a lot to boast. Trust me on this one, because I’ve been to beaches elsewhere in the world and the murky waters left me sitting on my multicoloured “Jamaica” beach towel on the dark, gritty sand, too scared to even stick my big toe in the water for fear of what might be lurking in there totally hidden from view. I didn’t want to pull out my foot and find myself minus a toe, thank you very much. And not even my sunglasses could dim the scene enough for me to join the locals who splash about in such water as if it were gold. Jamaican beaches are not only amongst the best in the world, but also within the Caribbean, and the envy of many. Unfortunately, we don’t appreciate what we have. But though all unique and lovely, each with a character all its own, some beaches stand head and shoulders above others, and will definitely have you yearning to return. Curious as to where to find these? Mmmmm… well, now that I’ve whetted your appetite, ladies, haul out the bikinis; gentlemen, you don you surfing shorts or speedos – whatever meets your fancy – pack the beach bag, and let’s embark on a journey around the island. Destination: hot beaches.

First stop: Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth. A string of sleepy fishing and farming villages located off the beaten track on Jamaica’s south coast, if it’s a deserted beach you have in mind, Treasure Beach is the place to go. This south coast beach community offers a great opportunity to mingle with ‘real’ Jamaicans far from the tourist hordes. This makes it popular with Jamaicans who just want a laid back experience where they can ‘par’ with some ‘rootsy’ folks, and maybe find some ‘ital’ food. No resort town with jet skis, para-sailing, and glitzy nightlife found here. Its four public beaches are well suited for swimming, snorkeling, and body-surfing. Try Jake’s Hotel, which is part of the Island Outpost chain and located oceanfront. Expect to find six miles of uncrowded sands, private coves, rocky shorelines, and laid-back resorts, dining and nightclubs.

At Port Antonio, Portland, Navy Island – American actor Errol Flynn’s (deceased long ago) old haunt – is an interesting stop. Errol Flynn was know for his love of beauty and his love of entertaining. He often brought other celebrities from the USA to enjoy Jamaica for them to enjoy our offerings. Navy Island is just a few miles of the coast of the mainland and there are boat rides for hire from persons within the community for those who don’t own a boat but would love to explore the island’s treasures. The location is popular with companies and other organizations for that company trip to treat employees. I highly recommend it if you like a bit of exclusivity.

The magnificent Blue Lagoon or Blue Hole, also in Portland, is known for its mystical colour. For example, if the sun is at a certain angle, the water colour changes. Legend says that the Blue Lagoon is bottomless and there is dragon that lives down there. In reality, it’s only hundreds of feet deep and this lagoon is supplied by jets of spring water at the bottom. The lagoon is connected to the beach, which means it’s a mixture of fresh and salt water. If you want to be surrounded by pure nature, peace and quiet, this is the place to be! This spot is very well known locally, and is popular for group trips. So be prepared to share your specie with bus loads of people. I’m told it’s also popular with famous Hollywood stars, so who knows who you’ll see when you visit.

Still in Port Antonio, Boston Bay‘s big waves are popular with surfers, as it is one of the best areas in the island for this activity. The area is also known for having some of the best jerk stands. YUMMY!

The gated community of Silver Sands in Trelawny has one of the most beautiful beaches in Jamaica. Many locals and repeat visitors regard Silver Sands as the spot with the best conditions for those serious about the sport of kitesurfing. I’ve tried kitesurfing and it is fun. The sail is heavy for me and proved somewhat challenging to pull up to a stand and maneuver. It’s easier for men to master as they have to upper body strength, but I encourage women to give it a try. The Silver Sands community is just a 30 minute drive east of Montego Bay and consists of villas and cottages.

The warm waters at Burwood beach just along from the Breezes Hotel in Falmouth, Trelawny are also inviting. With a shallow, sandy bottom, you can walk out for at least 100m before hitting deeper waters for swimming. There are also great winds there for kitesurfing if you are into that sort of thing.

Jumping across to St. James, we hit Montego Bay. Sure, Montego Bay is famous for its turquoise waters it’s Marine Park and its pulsating night life. But hey, let’s not get distracted as its nice sandy beaches have an allure all their own. Just a word of caution: if you’re looking for peace and serenity on your beach, this is not the place for it. Montego Bay is visited by cruise ships, so be prepared for a sudden influx of persons into the area. We pull up the hand brakes first at the famous Doctor’s Cave Beach, one of the most popular public beaches in Jamaica. Enjoy the crystal clear blue waters and white sand. This beach is considered great for snorkeling. Just a bit of history if you’re a curious soul like I am. The beach got its unique name because back in the day, a private club of persons, who were mainly from the medical profession, used it. Then they entered the tiny beach through a cave and steps took them down into the water. The cave however, was destroyed by a hurricane in 1932.

Walter Fletcher Beach is also in the Montego Bay area, and adds to the mix if you’re beach-hopping. You can never get enough beach as far as I’m concerned. There is also a cove shared by Riu Hotel and Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort. This cove is very shallow and protected by a long stretch of coral reef. Though connected to the hotels and therefore access to it is limited, it’s worth mentioning for its beauty.

If you’re looking for a more sedate beach experience than you’ll find in downtown Montego Bay, head east to Rose Hall Beach. If you’re staying at one of the luxury beachfront resorts here, such as the Iberostar, Half Moon, the Hilton Rose Hall, or the Ritz-Carlton, then this glorious strip of sand is right outside your doorway. If not, you can access this strand at the Rose Hall Beach Club, which has a restaurant, beach bar, and live entertainment, among other amenities.

Ocho Rios in St. Ann is 1 1/2 hours east from Montego Bay. Short trip. This city is a cruise ship capital and the bay accommodates many hotels and all inclusive resorts. Very busy place and therefore crowded beaches. The beaches though are beautiful and here as well, the conditions are ideal for windsurfing and kiteboarding. The beaches genre in that general area includes the Reggae, James Bond, Mallards and Mahogany Beaches.

Climbing Dunns River Falls is a must. The water is icy cold and the rocks are a little slippery in places. I often have my heart in my mouth at the most challenging spots, but it is definitely worth the climb. It’s a very popular tourist spot and is also very popular with locals for group trips, so be prepared to share your space with several bus loads of persons. This river flows into a beach inserting cold streams into the sea’s warmth. Interesting mix. If you’re done climbing those falls, relax by the beach before you head home or back to your hotel if you’re on holiday. The truth is you will enjoy the waterfalls more than the beach.

Puerto Seco Beach, located in Runaway Bay, St. Ann, is another public beach that is favoured by Jamaicans for group trips. You will more than likely be competing for parking space with several large buses. But if you get there early enough, you can avoid some of that. The beach itself is pleasant. Though not one of my favourites, it can provide a great experience if you make your own entertainment.

Here we say adieu to St. Ann and head over to Negril. Did anyone say hedonist capital? Well that’s for sure! Negril is a relaxing place to soak in the sun and scenery. It is about an hour west from Montego Bay and has a reputation for its Seven Mile Beach – the longest in Jamaica and located in both Westmoreland and Hanover, breathtaking cliff diving and nude sunbathing. . First developed in the 1960s during the hippie era, Seven Mile Beach is now lined with resorts but maintains a touch of its free-love spirit. You might even catch a whiff of something sweet being smoked by several persons that might just get you ‘high’. It is considered to be another great area to try windsurfing and kiteboarding.  According the World Travel Magazine, this is one of world’s top ten beaches. I challenge you to walk entire seven miles – it’s a great opportunity to burn those calories that you had probably consumed from that dessert that you had eaten after dinner the night before. By the way, the sunset in Negril is very beautiful and worth seeing on a very good day. Negril is in the west and since the sun sets in the west that’s a big bonus! The beach has a few open air bars and restaurant in case you get hungry. If you’re heading to Negril from say Kingston, prepare for a lengthy drive and it’s not so easy to head there and back in one day. You may wish to overnight in the area.

And on that ‘heady’ note we bring our road trip to a close. Back home again, deeply sun scorched, but feeling good. I hope you enjoyed the trip and that from now on, you won’t be wondering where to go to have a memorable beach experience. Hope I see you on the beach, and oh, don’t forget your sunblock.


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