There is a unique experience available to all in Bull Bay, near Kingston. Surfing with the Wilmots is a memorable adventure that will ran up there with your top ten Jamaican experiences. For the young and not so young, the absolute beginner or the wandering surfer looking for a new break, hanging out at Jamnesia for the day will definitely be one for the books.
The Wilmots are a Rastafarian family of surfing musicians based in St. Thomas on the Eastern end of Jamaica/ That area has become synonymous with surfing in Jamaica. Headed by Billy “Mystic” Wilmot, leader of the Mystic Revealers Band and an actor who played “CC” on local soap opera Royal Palm Estate and The Blackburns, the family has been an integral part in the development of surfing in Jamaica with the establishment of the Jamnesia Surfing Camp and the Jamaica Surfing Association.
Surfing in Jamaica dates back as far as 1912 and though the island isn’t well known for surfing, the underground has kept the sport alive and it is becoming more mainstream with each passing competition. The island has an eight month surfing season which gives way to the best swells in beach spots such as The Lighthouse, Copa, The Zoo, Buff Bay, Rio Grande, Peenie Wally, Shark Cove, Boston, Long Bay, Orange Bay, Hammer Pit and The Ranch.
Jamnesia is located in Bull Bay, eight miles east of Kingston and is an inclusive compound right on the beach with a restaurant offering Jamaican eats, rustic accommodations and regular Reggae jam sessions with a beach bonfire and herbal scents floating through the air kind of vibe. Reggae revivers Chronixx and Protoje are regulars at the jam sessions held here where they both got a start in their musical careers.
The location buzzes with traveling surfers who come to enjoy the perfect pairing of surfing and reggae music under the warm Caribbean sun. There’s even a skate bowl on the property to enjoy when you’re not out on the open seas. Wilmot has taught his five children to surf, all of whom have gone on to become expert surfers. His only daughter, Imani, was the first female Caribbean pro-surfer.
The Makka Pro Surfing Competition held in July each year in St. Thomas, Jamaica has established itself as one of the premier Caribbean surfing events attracting visitors from the USA, South America and other Caribbean countries. Wilmot’s kids have been successful at retaining titles at the event each year but the competition gets stiffer as the island continues to attract more and more surfing pros.
The cultural entertainment and activities offered during the Makka Pro competition as well as other surfing events in Jamaica throughout the year introduces Jamaica as a uniquely attractive location for surfing to visitors who seek an alternative to the regular tourist offerings. The Wilmots welcome you into their Jamnesia home for lessons with every amenity a surfer needs available right on the compound.
Pro surfers come through the compound regularly to offer children surfing clinics, exposing them to world class surfing standards and lessons on achieving that level. The Jamaica Surfing Association, headed by Wilmot, helps children of the community with boards and lessons and gives the community another option for economic improvement. He’s even convinced high schools around the area to invest in surfing and some now offer it as an extracurricular activity.
Wilmot says of his work with children in the community “we can’t all be world-class surfers but, people can learn and then mend or make boards, became a lifeguard or a judge at competitions, sell surf clothing, wetsuits or even run a hotel for surfers. We want to expand the idea to more than catching waves and teach kids that they can take this idea a lot further.”
Whether you’re a pro surfer or just a beach bum who wants to get in on a little of this action, head down south to the capital of Jamaica’s surfing sport. Catch a wave and a vibe.