September 11, 2015
With its 650-miles of scenic coastline and numerous outlying islands, reefs and cays, Jamaica offers a seemingly endless succession of beaches, each distinctly unique. Some feature arc-shaped soft pale sands under a rustling canopy of palms while others are home to an array of beautiful birds and wildlife. Many of the best beaches of Jamaica are party hangouts filled with family picnickers, volleyball nets, food vendors and reggae rhythms. Others are utterly secluded sandy stretches where the only backbeat is the lullaby sound of the Caribbean Sea.
Fonthill Beach is a picturesque haven for wildlife and one of Jamaica’s most important nature preserves, making it an exciting choice for families – the kids are sure to be wowed by the magical nature walks through 125-acres of rainforest trails. Home to many of Jamaica’s indigenous and protected species, Fonthill Beach is a nesting place for multiple species of beautiful migratory birds in the winter, as well as mongooses, nesting hawksbill and loggerhead turtles. Keen to watch fish in the shallows? You’ll be spoilt for choice here – the water is so crystal clear dozens of rainbow-coloured tropical fish can easily be spotted. Across the sandbar, a trail leads through lagoons and mangrove forests in which several hundred American crocodile hide.
The deserted Robinson Crusoe-style island of Lime Cay is located a stone’s throw from Jamaica’s busy capital city, Kingston, and is a favourite with weekending urbanites keen to escape the city noise. With several sandy stretches offering total privacy, parts of Lime Cay are popular with nudist sunbathers. At weekends, though, the locals bring limes, beer, food, snorkel gear and ghetto blasters to transform the sleepy island atmosphere into an upbeat, party vibe.
With zero hassle from beach vendors, the private sands of Cosmos Beach near Negril offer a quieter alternative to the bustle of Seven Mile Beach. A nominal fee to use the beach applies (family entrance is $15-20), though this is often waived for visitors eating at the rustic open-sided Cosmos restaurant. Little compares to digging into their enormous home-cooked pepper burger with your toes buried deep in the sand under a waterfront table.
Cornwall Beach in Montego Bay is a close neighbour to Doctor’s Cave Beach – you can easily walk from one to the other. This is an enlightening stroll as it reveals two very different types of beach: one filled with excitable holidaymakers and one that is often overlooked. As a private stretch of sand, a cost applies to visitors but it is a modest $3-5 per person – a worthwhile expense for a well-maintained beach with a decent restaurant and bar and plenty of space to stretch out on the sand.
Visitors rave about the beach at Silver Sands in Duncan’s in the Northern part of Jamaica on account of glistening waters and stunning sands so perfect they could have been photoshopped to fulfil the paradise idyll. Incredible views abound from this beach, backed by rolling hills. But should you tire of the stunning Caribbean vistas, there are plenty of hammocks where guests can lay back, read and nap without any interruption. Silver Sands beach is private (and gated) but visitors can pay for entry in off-peak months or be signed in by a villa owner at the resort.
At the other end of the scale is nearby Burwood Beach, an easily accessible expanse of sand near Ocho Rios and Silver Sands. Expect empty translucent grains and breathtaking views at this free-to-enter secluded beach, which ranks among the prettiest- and least known – beaches of Jamaica.
In the east of the island don’t miss out on Winnifred Beach in the parish of Portland – a great little family beach of gorgeous powdery white sands backed by lush green flower-filled trees. Sizzling grills spark up at lunchtime to cook delicious jerk pork, shrimp and chicken, while local musicians serenade beach-goers with reggae classics.
Treasure Beach is located in a sleepy beachside village on the south side of the island and set around five bays in St. Elizabeth’s parish – Fort Charles Bay, Billy’s Bay, Frenchman’s Bay, Calabash Bay and Great Pedro Bay (most are suitable for families with young children, being mainly calm and rock-free for swimming). It is also where the three-day Port Calabash literary festival has its home every two years, attracting literati from every corner of the globe. This is a great opportunity for book-loving holidaymakers to mingle with celebrated authors and attend the many readings, workshops and recitals that take place at Jakes Hotel.
Virgin Atlantic operates direct flight to Jamaica from London, making it easy to book your Caribbean beach holiday.