Chances are that you were dreaming of the best beaches on Jamaica’s north coast when you booked your vacation to the Caribbean. If you booked into an all –inclusive you’ll probably already have access to a great beach, but these beaches are private and not accessible to the public at large. So where do you go when you’re backpacking across Jamaica, booked at a villa or somewhere else inland? Or simply want to explore a little bit? Here’s our list of a few of Jamaica’s best public beaches from the westernmost point to the east of the island along the north coast.
7 Mile Beach
It’s famous for a reason, and while some private resorts have blocked off parts of this beach, it’s big enough for everyone to enjoy. There are several restaurants, parks and access points along the strip that allow you to swim these warm, pristine waters for a nominal fee, for free or for lunch at the restaurant. Head to the shorter 3 mile stretch know as Bloody Bay for a public beach also popular with locals. Negril is essentially made up of the cliffs on the west end, the centre of town and the beach road so it’s pretty easy to find your way here.
Travel Tip: Ask a local, like a cabbie, to point you to Half Moon Beach. This beach is not very well known and provides a secluded spot just north of Negril in the sleepy town of Lucea, Hanover.
Doctor’s Cave Beach
Montego Bay’s hip strip sees thousands of visitors every year and no destination is more popular than the famous beach at Doctors Cave. With a long history as a top attraction in Jamaica, the beach remains just as beautiful as its always been.. For a small fee, you’ll have access to the white sand beaches, gorgeous waters (rumoured to have healing qualities), food drinks, a gift shop, pool table, sauna, cyber cafe, gym and other amenities.
Travel Tip: Aquasol Beach Park , also in Montego Bay, boasts arcade games, bumper cars and rides for those seeking a little more play than just chilling on the beach. Or check out Margaritaville or Hard Rock Café if your ‘play’ is a little more about having a party.
Puerto Seco Beach
As we slowly make our way toward the East, you’ll come up on the Puerto Seco Beach Park in Discovery Bay, St. Ann. This is allegedly the point where Christopher Columbus first discovered Jamaica. Today it’s a pumping beach park complete with restaurants selling local seafood and jerk chicken along with clean facilities and adequate parking. Reggae music is known to be blaring from speakers on holidays or Sundays, when locals head there for a family outing. The water is a beautiful blue and quite shallow making it ideal for children to swim in and a nearby museum on Jamaican history can enhance this as a day out excursion for families.
Travel Tip: There are plans underway to offer more facilities to visitors to the beach keeping the local community in mind
Dunn’s River Falls Beach
Dunns River Falls is one of the island’s most well-known attractions with tours here available from almost any part of the island. Tourists and locals alike flock here to make their way up the falls hand in hand from the beach at its base. The unique attraction isn’t just a beautiful natural phenomenon, like coral, the rock base is constantly growing as elements from the river leave deposits of travertine and the smooth rounded flow of each cataract is the result of thermal spring activity. What many don’t realize is that the beach itself is also well worth going for. The falls rise directly from the shoreline making for a spectacular view both behind and in front of you as you laze on the golden beach in the water lapping the shore in alternating cold and warm bands as the freezing river water mixes with the warm Caribbean Sea.
Travel Tip: If you aren’t a part of a cruise ship passenger tour, find out when ships dock and plan to head there another day for faster access to the climb. Sundays are also a favourite day for locals.
James Bond Beach
St. Mary is blessed with many stretches of beautiful beaches. The most famous of which is the James Bond Beach which is a part of the Ian Fleming estate, the famous writer who wrote the 14 novels of the Bond series that the famous Hollywood blockbusters are based on. Located in Oracabessa, right next to the famous GoldenEye property, this small beach welcomes locals and tourists alike for a fun family outing or just a day to chill in the calm waters.
During the week it’s pretty quiet but on weekends, in particular, visitors flock to Stingray City to snorkel and swim with the resident stingrays or to take part in jet-ski safaris and glass-bottom boat rides.
Travel Tip: Adjacent to the Bond beach is Fisherman’s Beach, a rootsy alternative where one can enjoy simple I-tal and seafood fare and the occasional sound-system party.
Undoubtedly one of the most unique beaches in Jamaica, a beautiful cold river winds through the property of lush rainforest vegetation to spill out on to the sands to mix with the large waves rolling into the bay. A semi-enclosed cove where a river meets the sea, words cannot aptly describe its beauty. A lifeguard is on standby and a rope is strung across the mouth of the bay as the current can be quite strong and the waves can get quite large and rough at times. One of the Bond films would eventually be filmed here and today it is high on the bucketlist for visitors to Jamaica. Entry fee is approximately USD$10.
Winnifred Beach encapsulates the idea of a beach that truly belongs to the people. Although the Jamaican Government is now actively pursuing maintaining public beaches with facilities, this stunning family beach has been actively fought for to be kept open to the public use of Jamaicans and not developed for a very long time. There is a restaurant and is a fantastic opportunity to hang with locals and partake in a Jamaican Sunday tradition where many people head here after church to spend a day with their family and other members of the community.
Burwood Beach, off the north coast highway, is a free public beach with white sands and clear tranquil waters. Changing rooms and restrooms are not available. Vendors sell local crafts at the beach. Positioned on the northern part of Trelawny Parish, 0.4 miles east-northeast of White Bay, Burwood Beach is on the North West edge of Jamaica.
Get Here: Ask any taxi at the Falmouth Cruise ship pier to take you to Burwood which is less than 15 minutes away.