Jamaica is known for its white sandy shores and almost unbelievably clear, turquoise waters, but an outing to Kingston beaches doesn’t usually come to mind. You would be surprised at what the capital has to offer as a slice of this tropical paradise.
Kingston is known as the throbbing heartbeat of the island. Nightlife and a buzzing urban centre doesn’t seem to bring to mind lazy days swimming in the Caribbean Sea. Even so, there are some remarkable beaches in the area that Kingstonians head to every weekend. If you’re hoping for a laissez faire day spent in the surf and sand, you’ll only have to wander a short distance from the heart of the city to find what you’re looking for.
Head South and West:
Calm, unpolluted waters await visitors to Lime Cay. This tiny island is a part of a Sunday tradition for both people who live in Kingston and nearby Portmore. As the closest beach to downtown Kingston, it is a sublime spot with a 360 degree view, allowing you to look back at the city of Kingston or out to an endless horizon of blue as you sit in the surf on the beautiful white sand. The only way to get here is by boat. If you aren’t lucky enough to know a friend with a boat, there are many fishermen in the small town of Port Royal who will take you out in their canoe, an experience to remember all on its own. Another popular departure spot is from Y Knot, a small dock bar located right next to the Morgan’s Harbour Hotel. Be sure to carry everything with you, including food and cold drinks as there aren’t any amenities on this small islet, although recently a portable restroom has been added. It is recognized as one of the locations for the Jamaican movie “Harder They Come.”
Impressively void of hotels, Hellshire Beach attracts locals who come for swimming, sun and entertainment. Known for its open-air concerts and festivals, Hellshire features a paid and free section. Along the paid section are public restrooms, seating areas, changing rooms, showers and picnic tables. There is a roped off area patrolled by lifeguards and plenty of calm water to swim in. In the free area a bit farther west, there are numerous stalls selling fried fish and other food.
Get Here: There is a bus, Line 1, from where Marcus Garvey Drive meets the Port Kingston Causeway if coming from downtown Kingston, Ocean Drive. The bus leaves every 4 hours and takes you straight to Hellshire in just under an hour. Several buses leave from the Cross Roads bus depot and you transfer at Dawkwins PMall in Portmore. Driving the shortest route takes you through toll roads. This way you are less likely to get lost. Take Port Kingston Causeway to Fort Augusta Dr in Portmore. Exit from Port Kingston Causeway,merge onto Fort Augusta Dr. ( Pass by Callie's Beach House & Resort on the left) Take Port Henderson Rd to Braeton Rd then take Hellshire Main Rd to your destination in Hellshire. There is a Municipal road but will take you nearly 45 minutes.
Located about 5 ½ miles from Fort Charles, beyond the Portmore community, Fort Clarence Beach Park is a large white sand beach that is open to the public for a minimal entry fee with calm water for swimming. There are frequent music festivals, as well as the occasional beauty pageant and bodybuilding contest. A part of the programme to keep our public beaches beautiful, restroom and changing room amenities are available and well maintained with vendors dotted along the beach offering up freshly prepared Jamaican meals that are one of the must do’ culinary experiences while in Jamaica. Fried and Steamed fish and grilled and curried lobster and conch are all freshly caught and made to order on the spot. Accompanied with steamed or fried bammy or the sweet bread called a festival, it is the perfect lunch to go with a chill day at most Kingstonians’ favourite weekend beach of choice.
This small spot has a shady two story wooden building that serves as a restaurant as well as a venue for special events. Traditional rustic wooden benches and lounging chairs are lined off in front of the sea, just steps away. Popular with families and groups, this picturesque spot is just a little further along the road from the entrance to the Fort Clarence Beach Park. There is a nominal fee for entry, free parking in front and a simple menu is on offer with the delicious Jamaican beach food staples as well as the standards like frosty cold Red Stripe and Heineken beers. On occasion special events are held here.
Get Here: When you get to the entrance gate for Ft. Clarence Beach, continue to the end of the road. There is a small parking lot on your right. Entrance is through a gate on the beach side.
Waves is a more lively venue that invites more participation between patrons but at the same time allows you to just chill on your own if that’s your choice. Offering free wifi to its patrons and a nice seafood menu, they are well known for their All You Can Eat Crab food events. With a cable TV they will also host sports nights, special events and parties. Waves is right next door to Boardwalk yet it has a different vibe to it, while still offering the signature thatched umbrellas and raw board sunbenches along with a beautiful beach for your swimming and tanning pleasure.
Though it’s water isn’t recommended for swimming due to pollution, it is still worthy to include on this list due to its popularity. Locals and visitors frequent the beach for now for its function as an event venue. IT makes for a great view of Kingston Harbour when partying into the night.
Bob Marley Beach
Bob Marley Beach is so named because it is rumored that the reggae icon used to hang out here. Regardless it is a popular destination for locals in the morning and afternoons as well as the weekends for a quick dip. It usually isn’t full of people because it does have the recipe for being popular - nice, clear, clean water that gets deeper gently, a large and beautiful dark sand beach, with access to the fresh catch brought on shore on this fisherman’s sweet spot.
Get Here: Drive along the A4 out of Kingston and head east towards Yallahs, the entrance will be on your right. Drive inside, park and enjoy.
Macca Beach in Yallahs is a go to for the surfing community, and host of the annual Makka Pro Invitational. Although the waves don’t rival the Eastern Wiest Indian islands, Hawaii or California, it is still too rough for beginners who can begin to learn in the calmer waters of nearby sheltered spots along Bull Bay. On an event day , locals and tourists alike show up to cheer on the contenders for this growing sport in Jamaica.
Get Here: Just a little further along on the A4 from Bull Bay, east of Kingston