Many locals (and visitors alike) may share the [inaccurate] belief that the Kingston & St. Andrew areas don’t possess any beaches, or at least ones worth visiting. Let’s dispel that myth really quick; Bob Marley Beach is 1 of 5 public beaches I’ve previously shared in the city with my e-mail subscribers (join the list here). I believe beaches of our capital city deserve more credit. This isn’t just 1 of my favourite beaches in Kingston & St. Andrew, but an overall favourite.
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Bob Marley Beach, Jamaica
Just to be extra clear, this isn’t a conventional beach with a special sliver of white sands and turquoise water like those of tourist ads. Access to Bob Marley Beach is FREE for the public [at the time of this article], though I wouldn’t take that for granted. Each time I’ve visited so far has revealed new improvements such as changing rooms, handcrafted lounge seating, and additions of stalls + bars. Fishermen seem to operate from here, supplying and cooking up their catch to visitors. A small boat or 2 can sometimes be spotted resting on the shore awaiting the next voyage. Besides swimming or grabbing a meal and drink from the on-site shops, visitors may be strolling the beach, stone collecting, surfing, or lyming with friends under shady trees. Some visitors may say this secluded shoreline may need some more refined ‘sprucing’, but residents (and I) seem to appreciate their rustic patch of paradise.
If you’ve been following me for a while you’ve probably picked up that I prefer rivers and waterfalls, but what I love about Bob Marley beach is how “authentic” it feels. Driving through an unpretentious area to a shadowy shore of coloured stones and fine sand framed by hills gives this beach character that [in my opinion] many better-known beaches lack.
Its green-blue waters roll gently enough for a leisurely swim, but can also create waves suitable for surfing. Birds soar around, dotting the hill backdrop seemingly throughout the day. This gradient rim adds an extra dimension to the rising or sinking sun. I’ve eyed a trail from the hill’s base, and am hoping to take a hike in the future to showcase that view as well.
Why is it called Bob Marley Beach?
Many are familiar with former homes of reggae icon Bob Marley through namesake Kingston museum and St. Ann mausoleum attractions. Did you know that he also lived in Bull Bay for some time? Bob Marley Beach reportedly got its name because it was said to be 1 of Bob Marley’s favourite spots in the community. I’ve also seen the beach referenced to online as Thomas Beach, but don’t know that story. Similarly, the ‘Unruly’ River in neighbouring St. Thomas was nicknamed as a go-to spot of another local superstar . Unsurprisingly there are displayed elements of Rastafarianism (a Jamaican religious movement) on Bob Marley Beach, including a sacred meditation space and dashes of red, green, and gold from the Ethiopian-inspired Rasta flag.
Directions to Bob Marley Beach, Kingston & St. Andrew
Bob Marley Beach is about a 10-minute drive from the Norman Manley International Airport, in the direction of (but a reasonable distance from) the neighbouring St. Thomas parish. At the southeastern edge of the parish, tucked beyond a narrow lane off the main road in 8 Miles, Bull Bay lies this black sand beach. Some persons mistakenly consider Bull Bay as a part of St. Thomas, but it is geographically within St. Andrew.
The turn is just after the bridge by Weise Road and Bull Bay Police Station. A wall acts as the first welcome sign marking the entrance from the main road through a small community. A short, straight drive will lead to the ashy shore.
Judging from what you’ve seen here, does this fit your idea of an ideal beach day?
Let me know why or why not in the comments. It’s definitely my favourite Jamaican black sand beach so far.
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Your post has convinced me to check this place out in a few hours. I hope I have an enjoyable experience as you did.
I’m glad, and hope you did! I’ve gotten mixed reviews but have enjoyed my multiple visits there.
I’ve been to this beach and I did not enjoy it. The beach was just too dirty. People be eating and drinking and just throwing their garbage on the shore. The stones are beautiful and that’s what I went to collect, stones for my painting. I was embarrassed to see the beach in that condition, dog feaces everywhere, cudnt step in peace.
Thanks for your honesty; though my visits didn’t have that experience, I can imagine. The downside of many public beaches is anyone (or any animal lol) can visit at any given time, and there’s usually no dedicated maintenance staff. On my last visit when these pics were taken, I was pleased to see residents picking up litter that was left behind, but of course this shouldn’t be so in the 1st place.
I definitely had a great time here last year but I guess the vibe was dead because we were just slowly emerging from our pandemic lockdown of sorts. In fact, you had come in quite handy with the directions haha. I hope to revisit in the near future. 🙂
Oh yes I remember you asking for directions, haha. Even when it’s just me and 1 other person here I just feel so at ease here.
Although I live in Manchester, Bob Marley beach has been on my bucket list for some time and will probably be marked off this year. Thanks for sharing, which is serving as a reminder to visit this “free” gem in paradise.
And thanks for reading 🙂 Hope you do get to check it off this year! Many of my favourite places in Jamaica are favourites mainly because of the vibe I experience while there, more than the aesthetics and amenities. This is 1 of them.