Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
- Map of the 15 Best Beaches in Jamaica
- The 3 Best Beaches in East Jamaica
- The 4 Best Beaches in North Jamaica
- The 4 Best Beaches in South Jamaica
- The 4 Best Beaches in West Jamaica
- Final Thoughts
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When people think of a tropical getaway, Jamaica is one of the first places that comes to mind. So, it’s not surprising that it often tops lists for dream beach destinations.
However, Jamaica is one of the largest islands in the Caribbean, and it has numerous coastal options to choose from. Picking which you should visit while on your vacation can feel daunting. To make your travel planning easier, we’ve done the hard work for you by evaluating all of Jamaica’s beaches.
Map of the 15 Best Beaches in Jamaica
The 3 Best Beaches in East Jamaica
1. Frenchman’s Cove Beach, Drapers
Frenchman’s Cove is often described as an island paradise, and it’s true. If you’re visiting Jamaica on the hunt for the quintessential Caribbean vacation full of relaxing in the sun, this is the place to go.
The beach is open to the public, but there is a small fee to enter. That helps keep crowds contained and ensures the area’s natural beauty is preserved. The water here is shallow near the shore and gradually deepens, allowing you to wade or swim in whatever depth you’re comfortable with.
A restaurant on the beach is highly recommended, but if you don’t feel like eating there, check with locals about the current food policy on the sand. Signs indicate that outside food isn’t permitted, but this rule isn’t always enforced, depending on the season. Though it’s a secluded beach, go early to have the place to yourself for a while.
2. Lyssons Beach, Morant Bay
Lyssons Beach has been a popular destination spot for decades. In fact, it’s caused many first-time visitors to become regular vacationers in Jamaica. The public beach is clean and simple, with a large expanse of light sand and bright blue water. The other half of the beach is owned and operated by the University of West Indies for faculty and students.
Unlike many beaches in Jamaica, there’s no fee to enter, but there is a parking fee. No refreshments or other necessities are available on-site, so if you plan on spending any extended time here, you’ll want to pack water, sunscreen, and food.
The beach is also highly regarded as one of the safest in the area, thanks to the guards that keep watch. Make sure to take note of where they’re usually stationed, as they are responsible for the keys to the bathrooms if you need them during your beach day.
Hot Tip: If you plan on taking your own car, arrive early to get a parking spot.
3. Wickie Wackie Beach, Bull Bay
Wickie Wackie Beach is a vibrant coastal stretch that’s great for travelers on the lookout for a little excitement. The water here tends to be a bit choppy and rough, so it’s great for surfing. However, unless you’re an expert swimmer, you might find yourself getting tired quickly, so you might want to stick close to dry land and just wade in the water. The same is true for young children.
What really sets this beach apart is its sand. The black sand is striking against the blue water and bright greenery that lines the coast, and many tourists say it gives the beach a calming quality. The beach is less than a mile away from town, so it’s within walking distance. It’s also a free beach, so you can stop by for a short amount of time if you find yourself in the area.
The 4 Best Beaches in North Jamaica
1. Fantasy Beach, Priory
Though this part of Jamaica’s shoreline is also called Priory Beach, its Fantasy moniker suits it much better.
It’s a quiet little beach near the small town of Priory, but it’s a top place to go for some much-needed unwinding while on vacation. However, this strip of coastline can be very versatile. While days are marked by tranquil, gentle waves, warm water, and very low crowd levels, evenings can get much livelier.
Since Fantasy Beach doesn’t require a fee to access, beach parties are often held on the sand. This is especially true during the winter months when the tourist season is at its highest. You’ll be able to mingle with tourists and locals for a fun night of socializing. These parties are not the best for children, so make sure to head out if it seems like a lively gathering is starting around sunset.
2. Ocho Rios Bay Beach, Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios Bay is one of the most family-friendly beaches because it has something for everyone. The beach has numerous shady picnic areas where you can enjoy lunch by the sea even when it’s hot and humid out.
There are also plenty of reasons why you might want to go for a swim in the water. The beach is wide, meaning you can safely try out a number of activities, from water sports like surfing and jet-skiing to casual swimming.
If you don’t want to lug a big beach bag around or realize you forgot something while you’re on the sand, the beach is close to shops, snack bars, and restaurants as well. You’ll be able to find plenty of quiet places as well if you or other people in your travel group need some time away from the overstimulation that comes with buzzing crowds.
3. Runaway Bay Beach, Runaway Bay
Runaway Bay Beach is a serene paradise where you can enjoy the fun excursions Jamaica has to offer. Try out snorkeling and explore the colorful ecosystem beneath the water’s surface. Since the sea is warm and gentle, you can spend hours taking in the underwater views.
Swimming is also safe here, even if you’re an amateur swimmer or have young children who can’t handle strong currents. You can enjoy the beach without interruptions. The beach isn’t part of the usual tourist circuit; even cruise excursions rarely lead tourists here. You might even have the shore to yourself.
There’s a little shade from the trees that line the sand, but you’ll be in direct sunlight near the water. If you plan on working on your vacation tan, lay out for a limited time and bring plenty of sunscreen so you don’t burn.
4. Silver Sands Public Beach, Duncans
Silver Sands might be a small beach, but it’s still well worth visiting. It’s one of the most peaceful places on the island because it doesn’t draw many crowds.
The beach is popular for fishing, so you might see some people with rods lounging on the sand or just off the coast in little boats. This reputation can work to your advantage if you want to get away from buzzing crowds since most beachgoers forgo it for other more lively places.
Remember that there are no restrooms or changing rooms on the beach. However, you’ll be able to use the facilities at the nearby restaurant if you decide to grab something to eat there. The beach is primarily sandy, but watch your step if you go for a stroll because some rocks and shells wash up on the shore.
The 4 Best Beaches in South Jamaica
1. Farquhar Beach, Milk River Bay
Farquhar Beach is one of Jamaica’s striking dark sand beaches. The sand’s color can be seen at a distance, so you’ll know you’ve made it to the right place.
The beach has a rustic shore with a mix of small boulders on the sand and lush greenery on the dunes and the hills that surround the sand. Despite this quaint quality, Farquhars isn’t completely secluded. There are a few vendors where you can get some souvenir items and food, including locally-sourced seafood from the beach’s waters.
The beach is a popular docking spot for small fishing boats, but they don’t have engines, so the water is still clean and safe to swim in. In recent years, renewed efforts have been put in place to keep the beach cleared of any litter as well, so it’s one of the cleanest public and free beaches in the country.
Hot Tip: Make sure to check out our guides on the best ways to fly to the Caribbean with points and miles and the best Caribbean hotels to book with points.
2. Fort Clarence Beach, Hellshire
Fort Clarence Beach lets visitors get in touch with the island’s animal life. It’s a favorite nesting spot among sea turtles which can be found between May and December. If you do see any sea turtles on the sand, make sure to admire them from a distance so they can nest, feed, and sleep in peace.
Keeping watch for turtles isn’t the only animal-related activity you can do on this beach. You can also take a horseback ride on the sand since it’s a peaceful area with even terrain that won’t spook the horses.
If you’d prefer staying on your own 2 feet, you can climb Fort Clarence’s dunes or suntan on the soft sand. There’s a fee to enter the park to help limit crowds and maintain the preservation of the area’s territory. The area recently underwent some renovations as well, so there are now showers and new seating areas.
3. Hellshire Beach, Hellshire
Hellshire Beach is often noted as one of the safest beaches in Jamaica. The warm water has a very gentle current, and there aren’t many waves, especially in the extensive shallow areas. The water is usually bright blue as well. However, it’s not uncommon to notice a cloudy quality to it if a large amount of sand is being kicked up by water or foot traffic.
The majority of the beach has nearly white sand, but you’ll also notice some dark specks here and there from the dark sand that makes it to this part of the shore. Hellshire Beach is also known for its seafood offerings which include fish that has been freshly caught by local fishermen.
Hot Tip: The beach is open 7 days a week, but when there’s adverse weather, it can be closed to swimmers, so double-check before arriving.
4. Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth
When you visit Treasure Beach, you’re not just visiting 1 coastal paradise. You’re actually visiting 4:
- Calabash Bay
- Billy’s Bay
- Frenchman’s Bay
- Great Pedro Bay
Together, these bays earned their collective name, “Treasure Beach.” In the 1930s, a hotel bearing that name opened nearby, and that title began to be associated with the entire area. Though that hotel has long since closed, the moniker has stuck.
Billy’s Bay is the longest of the beaches, measuring 2 miles in length. Frenchman’s Bay is the most trafficked, thanks to its popular restaurants. Calabash Bay has a few resorts that offer all-inclusive amenities for guests, but the beach is still publicly accessible. Great Pedro Bay is the most secluded area, so you’ll mostly run into a handful of local fishermen or swimmers.
The 4 Best Beaches in West Jamaica
1. Bluefields Beach, Bluefields
Though Bluefields Beach can get busy on the weekends during high tourism season in December through February, it’s often pretty quiet throughout the rest of the year. In fact, many locals enjoy visiting this beach to escape tourist crowds, but you don’t have to worry about being unwelcome as a visitor.
A small stone wall helps hide this part of the island from road traffic, and the trees that line the sand give it a more secluded feel. The water here is warm and gentle virtually all year, so you can go for a swim no matter when you plan your Jamaican getaway.
Though it’s not advisable to swim during a storm, if there’s just a light shower with no lightning, the water here won’t be affected. Tourists even recommend going for a swim in the rain while you’re enjoying your time in the area.
2. Half Moon Beach, Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Beach is the sort of place you want to go if you’re trying to sit back, relax, and unwind. It’s a secluded part of Jamaica’s coast that requires a small fee to access, so crowd levels are usually pretty minimal.
The easiest way to get here is by boat because the beach is secluded from the rest of Jamaica. As a result, you won’t hear much noise from the outside world. Instead, you’ll be treated to the natural sounds of waves and wildlife.
You can lay out a towel directly on the sand, but there are also about 15 sunbeds available at any given time. They’re usually taken quickly, though, so if you want one, make sure to arrive early. This beach is also often part of island excursions, so you can look into taking one of those for more hands-off planning.
3. Negril Seven Mile Beach, Negril
Negril Seven Mile Beach, often shortened to just Seven Mile, is a perfect place to go if you’re interested in the slow-paced relaxation of island life.
With light sand and bright blue water as far as the eye can see, it’s hard to do anything but unwind and rest while you’re here. There isn’t much in the way of natural shade here, though. Make sure to bring sun protection or rent an umbrella to make sure you don’t burn while enjoying your beach day.
This is a great part of the island to visit if you’re bringing kids who love splashing around in the water. Since the current isn’t very strong and it’s quite shallow, you don’t have to worry about large waves if they go for a swim. You can bring your own food onto the beach, but there are also nearby on-site options.
4. Samuel’s Bay National Marine Park, Orange Bay
If you’re a nature lover and you want to see Jamaica’s wildlife, consider spending a day at Samuel’s Bay National Marine Park. The park has pristine examples of the island’s marine and forest ecosystems.
One of the most notable sites in the park is its coral reef which stretches for 5 miles and is one of the healthiest reef systems in the entire Caribbean. You can see the reef and the rest of the bay’s underwater world by snorkeling in the clear, warm water.
Hiking is another popular activity here. The paths that weave through the park aren’t very difficult, so you can navigate them at your leisure. If you prefer relaxing, you can do that here, too. Just sit on the sand and listen to nature. You might even get lucky and see some of the animals that call the island home while you’re visiting.
Jamaica is a tropical paradise with plenty of beaches for anyone who wants to enjoy the sand and sun. Whether you’re traveling alone or with your whole family, there’s a Jamaican shore fit for your vacation needs. We hope that this list has helped you figure out which one to visit first.
Featured Image Credit: Lakeisha Bennett via Unsplash
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there sharks in Jamaica?
As an island in the Caribbean, sharks can be spotted off Jamaica’s shores. While they’re attracted to the warm water, they tend to stay away from beaches that have a lot of foot traffic, and they’re harmless as long as they’re left alone.
Can you swim in the sea in Jamaica?
Jamaica has numerous sea beaches that are ideal for swimming, no matter what your skill level is. Most swimmable areas have signs, though, so make sure to double-check with locals if you’re interested in going in the water somewhere that isn’t clearly marked.
Is the ocean warm in Jamaica?
Jamaica’s seawater typically ranges between 81 and 84 degrees on average all year. The warmest months are between July and November, while January through April has the lowest water temperatures. Its warm water is part of what makes Jamaica a popular vacation destination.
Is the water clear in Jamaica?
Jamaica is known for its clear blue water. Many of the island’s best beaches are pristine and clean, so visitors can swim safely. However, there are some characteristics to look for. For example, the clearest water is often found in areas without many boats.
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