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If you search for ‘best beach in Jamaica’, Montego Bay‘s Doctor’s Cave Beach is sure to be amongst the top results. Also known as Doctors Cave Bathing Club and Doctors Cave Beach Club, the ‘Hip Strip’ staple has been attracting visitors from near and far to the north coast for decades. With Jamaica being world-renowned for beautiful beaches, you may wonder what would make Doctors Cave (or any other beach) exceptional enough to be considered 1 of the best of the best. Read on to learn why this one is a highly-recommended must-visit in the second city.

What is the history of Doctors Cave Beach?

Doctors Cave Beach was only accessible through a cave on Dr. Alexander James McCatty’s property at one point. It reportedly got its name thanks to a group of medical professionals who regularly accessed the seashore through this cave, which was since destroyed by a hurricane in 1932. This once-hidden gem allegedly became their secret getaway. In 1906, Dr. McCatty donated the beach property to the Montego Bay community, resulting in the founding of what we know today as Doctors Cave Bathing Club.

The ‘secret’ really got out in the 1920’s when a popular British Doctor, Sir Herbert Barker,  visited Doctors Cave Beach and published an article declaring the curative powers of its waters (though this hasn’t been medically proven). This soon attracted many more foreign visitors to the Bathing Club, creating new, heightened demand for hotels in the area; you could say that it ignited Montego Bay’s tourism boom. Doctors Cave Beach is now 1 of Jamaica’s most popular beaches and an itinerary essential in the tourist capital.

Doctors Cave Beach on the Montego Bay ‘Hip Strip’

This beach favourite has prime placement on Jimmy Cliff Boulevard (formerly Gloucester Avenue), affectionately known as the Montego Bay ‘Hip Strip’. The buzzing street is lined with well-known restaurants and bars, stores, and hotels (including a luxury hotel for business travelers and couples). Beach goers may regularly see planes over the Caribbean Sea on their way to and from the nearby Sangster International Airport.

Doctors Cave Beach is open daily from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm

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Doctors Cave Beach: Jamaica’s Best Beach?

Arguably Jamaica’s best beach attraction, and often rated in the top 5 across the board. What makes Doctors Cave Beach so attractive? Here are a few reasons for its wide allure:

  •  Fluffy, white sands
  •  Gentle, turquoise water
  •  Spacious shore
  •  Attractive surroundings
  •  Convenient location (near many businesses and other attractions)
  •  Easy to find and get to
  •  Quality amenities

Doctors Cave Beach has established its place among Jamaica’s best beaches for years, ticking all the above boxes. A few other favourites around the island include 7 Mile Beach (Negril) and Frenchman’s Cove (Portland).

It’s only natural that Doctor’s Cave Beach is often filled with activity. Being located on the Hip Strip often means crowds of beach lovers and bigger price tags. The shore is dotted with low, shady almond trees and a collection of rented parasol beach chairs. The narrow piers on either end, sometimes flocked with seagulls, are intermittently populated with patrons capturing enviable vacation photos.

Doctors Cave Beach Amenities

This is one of the privatized beaches in Jamaica where you’ll pay an entry fee. Patrons pour in daily to this manicured segment of the seashore, monitored by lifeguards. Doctors Cave Beach guests also have access to changing rooms, bathrooms and showers in good condition. When not lazing in the shade or sunbathing on the sands, patrons onshore gravitate to a chill spot under the Sand Bar or on a beach patio.

Doctors Cave Beach Restaurants

The bar and grill area spreads to the wooden deck of Pier 1 on the Beach where tropical cocktails and tasty meals are served. There is also a cafe next to the Sand Bar’s tiki hut that offers light meals and beverages for peckish moments.

Water sports at Doctors Cave Beach

On-site trampolines floating in the sea and the water’s characteristically-calm waves create a family-friendly space for fun in the sun. Doctors Cave Beach is a part of the Montego Bay Marine Park, established to protect sea life among the coral reefs around the city’s popular beaches. The nearby reefs make the waves sweep the shore at a relaxed pace, making it a great water sport venue for various skill levels! Equipment for aquatic activities like snorkeling and kayaking are available for rent here (and maybe even for free from your hotel).

The protected marine life around the reefs make this beach a vibrant snorkeling option. The piers flanking both ends of the beach and the Doctor’s Cave Reef at the edges of the designated swimming area are reportedly some of the best spots for beginner and experienced snorkelers in Montego Bay. The reef can be reached from the shore by swimming or by a boat tour.

If you want an up-close experience without getting into the water, kayaks and catamarans are other fun adventure options to cross off your Jamaican bucket list while here. Boats can be seen cruising along the sea and docking at the small piers of the beach for tours. Music emanating from some of these boat tours travel to the shore, coupled with the whisper of the sea. Visitors may possibly rent/book a tour while at the beach or arrange through their hotel or a private business beforehand.

Private vs Public Beach: Doctors Cave or Dead End Beach

Doctor’s Cave Beach is a favourite for tourists who want a tropical beach vacation. There is a public (ie. free) beach on the same shoreline called Dead End Beach, just a stroll and few metres away. What makes Doctors Cave Beach generally preferred to a beach on the same stretch? Why spend the extra money when Dead End Beach is so close? Here are a few comparisons that may help you make a more informed decision when choosing which to visit during a short trip in Montego Bay.

Travel Tip: If staying on the Hip Strip, ask your hotel about any special perks at either beach

Why People May Opt for Doctors Cave Beach (private):

  • More secure / Lifeguards on duty
  • More manicured, less seaweed
  • More likely to be populated with tourists
  • More, better-quality amenities
  • Bathing Club membership option

Why People May Opt for Dead End Beach (public):

  • Free entry
  • Less ‘nickel and diming’
  • More likely to be populated with locals
  • More relaxed access / opening or closing hours
  • Better views of planes in flight

Doctors Cave Beach Conclusion

Listed among the best beaches in Jamaica and renowned for decades, Doctors Cave Beach is a staple on many vacation itineraries. Why wouldn’t it be? With world-class amenities, a picturesque sustainable environment, and convenient location in the heart of a city, there’s not much a beach lover is missing here. Some may consider it an overpopulated tourist trap while others may see it as a perfect tropical getaway; I see it as a bit of both.

What makes a beach day with family and friends ideal for you? Does Doctors Cave Beach seem to have it all?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.