Spread the niceness

Though the island of Jamaica is globally renowned for many things, its natural beauty has been a top attraction over the decades, especially our pristine beaches. When talking about the best beaches in Jamaica there are handfuls of names that are sure to pop up repeatedly. However, a lot of the island’s top beaches are privatized, and some are mainly reserved for resort guests. No worries, because the list below only includes beach attractions that are accessible to the general public.

Having a good beach day that passes the vibe check is largely related to the atmosphere, crowds, and location. Find which of the best Jamaican beaches fit the vibe of your vacation itinerary by answering these questions and tallying the responses. The beaches are listed in no particular order.

Quiz: Best Beaches in Jamaica for a Day Trip

  1. How many persons?
    A: 4-5  B: 1-3   C: 6+
  2. Want to spend most time relaxing on the sand or swimming?
    A: Relaxing and a little swimming    B: Both    C: Swimming and a little relaxing
  3. Do you mind crowds?
    A: Crowds are fine    B: Less is more   C: Doesn’t matter either way
  4. Plan to buy or bring meals?
    A: Buy meals    B: Bring meals    C: Either / Both
  5. Including travel time, how long is the estimated trip duration?
    A: 2 – 4hrs    B: 5 – 6hrs    C: 6-12hrs

yellow bikini Booby Cay island Negril Jamaica

Quiz Results

Mostly A: Seasonal Hot Spots
You may be looking for a good atmosphere that is probably better with company but also fine for a solo beach days. These Jamaican beaches are popular among both locals and visitors, and are known to be populated most times. Crowd and activity levels tend to boost significantly during holidays, weekends, and tourist high seasons (December – April). Enjoy sunbathing and/or swimming on these properties.

Doctors Cave Beach– Montego Bay, St. James

This certainly has been 1 of the most popular Jamaican beaches over the years. Doctor’s Cave Beach sits pretty as a Montego Bay staple on the vibrant hip strip of Jimmy Cliff Boulevard. Be greeted by its warm sands not far from both the Sangster International Airport and Montego Bay cruise ship pier.

In addition to its picturesque backdrop, Doctor’s Cave Beach is a part of the Montego Bay Marine Park which boasts a vibrant coral reef ideal for snorkeling. Depending on the season, Doctor’s Cave can be a tranquil shore 1 day, and a sea of vacationers another day. During Jamaica’s tourist high season, its fine shores are swept with colourful parasols while water sports rip the waves. Doctor’s Cave Beach offers a world-class shoreline and amenities. Understandably, it’s a top contender for Jamaica’s best beach in any debate.

Frenchman’s Cove Beach– San San, Portland

Frenchman’s Cove Beach is a dreamy getaway with a star-studded history of Hollywood guests. Pristine property of Frenchman’s Cove exudes an understated luxury vibe. The cove’s seaside cul de sac is fed by an on-site, shallow river that pours into the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea. Calming scenes here are perfect for an unhurried day of relaxation, even during busy times.

Frenchman’s Cove Beach also offers accommodation and culinary options. Its eastern location is a fair distance from the nearest airport, which makes it require some extra travel time for out-of-town beach goers when compared to others mentioned on this list.

Credit: Sheldon Lev (IG @sheldonlev)

Hellshire Beach– Hellshire, St. Catherine

Hellshire Beach is on some lists of Jamaica best beaches because of its culinary offerings more than its sun, sand and sea. For years it has been a popular weekend getaway for local families of Kingston and St. Catherine, though nowadays its allure is mostly tied to its renowned seafood. Hellshire Beach is considered an unfortunate example of global warming’s link to eroding shorelines and rising sea levels.

Travel Tip: Consider skipping parrot fish for your meals. Here’s why!

Its fishing village supplies beachside mom-and-pop restaurants to serve some of the best seafood in Jamaica. Beach goers can choose lunch from the catches of the day with signature sides of cassava bammy, festival and more.

Mostly B: Relaxing Beach Retreat

On an average day these Jamaican beaches are attractive and calm, maybe with less than a couple handfuls of patrons at a time. Like most beaches worth visiting, they tend to have crowd upticks during holidays.

Laughing Waters Beach– Ocho Rios, St. Ann

This Hollywood movie marvel is a picture of tranquility. The estuary of Laughing Waters boasts the best of both worlds, with freshwater cascades emptying into saltwater of the sea. The babbling flow travels over powdery sand dunes. This stunning scene and tucked-away environs are nothing short of serene.

Its exclusive estate is governed by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and mainly cordoned off for venue reservations and events.

Treasure Beach– St. Elizabeth

Treasure Beach is a sleepy fishing village on the rise. This developing beach stretch is a collection of 4 south coast bays that thrive on community tourism. Treasure Beach has a growing amount of boho-chic accommodations and seaside restaurants serving up some of the freshest and most organic foods around.

It’s a great option for solo travelers and anyone seeking a peaceful beachside retreat. The water conditions of Treasure Beach vary from area to area, and can be more unpredictable than most beaches on this list due to sea currents.

Burwood Beach– Falmouth, Trelawny

Burwood Beach is 1 on this list that’s free to all. Its soft sands, azure water and added amenities make it one of the island’s more favourable public beaches. The quiet atmosphere is great for a low-key seaside escape.

Trelawny is a growing destination on visitors’ radars, with increasing mega-accommodation options, attractions, plus a cruise ship port. Burwood Beach is just outside Falmouth town, along the main roadway that connects the buzzing resort towns of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.

Credit: Tourism Enhancement Fund

Limecay– Port Royal, Kingston

One of Kingston’s beach treasures is on a small cay off the coast of the historic town of Port Royal. Limecay beach is a remote islet accessible by boat tours, boasting fine sand, rock coral, and foliage. Aesthetically, I’d say Limecay can compete with some commercial beaches along the north coast.

It’s 1 of the top things to do in Kingston for nature lovers. On an average day, it typically won’t be crowded. It’s a beach that can effortlessly be the location of a relaxing day trip as well as a social scene for events and yacht linkups.

James Bond Beach– Oracabessa, St. Mary

James Bond Beach is part of the Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary and coral restoration protected site. The idyllic escape sits beautifully on a small peninsula and is said to have been a favourite swim spot of 007 writer, the late Ian Fleming. James Bond Beach was a part of his estate, which also included his former home— turned luxury resort— Goldeneye.

The fish sanctuary preserves marine life here and promotes the livelihood of the nearby fishing village and beyond. In addition to its relaxing setting, James Bond Beach is also a haven for scuba diving and snorkeling. An on-site dive shop offers scuba lessons and excursions for interested patrons.

Credit: Staucia (IG @staucia)

Mostly C  OR  Tied Responses: Best of Both
Stretches of shore on these Jamaican beaches allow both relaxing scenic spaces as well as pockets of activities at times. Patrons can easily enjoy beach days bathing in blue waters, trying a new activity, and lounging on a powdery coast. Holidays and high seasons can almost guarantee crowds but still ample space for tranquility. These are great options for group and family trips.

Seven Mile Beach– Negril, Westmoreland

Seven Mile Beach is the cornerstone of Negril’s buzzing strip, lined with hotels, travelling merchants, and entertainment hotspots. It possesses some of the clearest and calmest waters on the island. A shallow stretch of sandy floor in many areas is ideal for non-swimmers. The coastal resort town’s regular live music and events schedule make it a great beach option for location hopping and water activities.

Seven Mile Beach is free to access to the public, though some spots in front of hotels are lined for guests. Amenities like shade and lounge chair rentals may also be reserved for paying patrons depending on where you go; the good news is there’s miles of shore to explore!

Boston Bay Beach– Boston, Portland

This is a favourite community beach in lush Portland, Jamaica. One of Boston Bay Beach’s distinguishing traits is its waves. Waves rolling into the small cove of Boston Bay aren’t characteristically gentle but also not overly rough.  It’s considered the origin and one of the best sites on the island to watch and learn to surf in Jamaica.

Boston Bay Beach is a full day trip experience, complete with must-try street eats and scenic country roads. The area of Boston, Portland is also the reputed origin of world-famous Jamaican jerk cuisine, and this Beach is just a quick stroll away from an iconic jerk centre.

Each Jamaican beach above has at least 1 distinguishing feature that can rank it above many from our scores of beaches islandwide. Based on quiz responses, the Jamaican beach suggestions you got should be great options to consider. Of course each trip is unique and conditions at any property can change at a moment’s notice.

P.S. When considering how island time works, travelling around Jamaica may not be as short as any of us estimate especially when visiting a new place. If you need more tailored advice for your next Jamaican outing, you can always share more details with me to get a personalized itinerary. Take the sea-nic route and enjoy a great day at the beach in Jamaica!