The culture of Jamaica has a way of drawing you in and inspiring your curiosity. This Caribbean island is known for its friendly people, warm climate, and in particular, its amazing beaches. It can be difficult to know which spots to check out while on the island, and especially which beaches are worth exploring, but ahead of your trip, we’ve put together a full listing of the 23 best beaches in Jamaica that will grant you that tropical beach experience you’ve always dreamed about.
Expert tip: First time visiting Jamaica? Negril is probably one of the best places to start, featuring the most beautiful beaches. Read more: ‘Jamaica: What Area To Stay At?’.
Pellew Island is just off the coast of Port Antonio, and it is sometimes called ‘Monkey Island’ or ‘Princess Island’. The Monkey Island moniker is due to the fact that there were once a few imported monkeys on that island, but today the beach is more popular for sightings of tropical fishes than anything else, as it is one of the best places in Jamaica for snorkeling. You can kayak to Pellew Island from the nearby San San beach, or you can get there by boat. It’s the ideal place to go if you want to experience that castaway feeling, without being too far away!
Tip: Lookout for sea urchins on the seafloor; water shoes may come in handy. For other things to pack you might not have thought of, read ‘What to pack for a vacation in Jamaica? The ultimate list.’
Low Cay Beach in Oracabessa Bay is famed for being home to the vacation dwelling of Ian Fleming, the creator of the James Bond series. The property has since been taken over by Chris Blackwell, a Jamaican music executive, but its surroundings are no less spectacular today than they were then, now maybe even more so. It has been transformed into an upscale resort, but the appeal of this area has more to do with the spectacular 500-foot cove, which is perfect for a day of fun in the sun. Whether you want to swim or paddle board in the lagoon, you can feel free to have an uninhibited beach day on these shores.
Halfway private, and the other half public, Mammee Bay is one of the top choices for beach seekers in the Ocho Rios area and is just 15 minutes from Ocho Rios. This is a beach where you’ll want to do more than beach lounging and tanning; the water is so calm and warm that it’s hard not to want to dive right in. And why not? How often do you travel to a Caribbean island and get to feel the refreshing and cool water against your skin, after frolicking in the sun all afternoon? The views from Mammee Bay Beach are amazing, especially around sunset. At night join one of the groups having a bonfire and dance the night away. Mammee Bay Beach is definitely for the more adventurous, and even lovers of windsurfing and wakeboarding have some good days on these shores.
Insider tip: While at Mammee Bay stop by the Bamboo Blu Restaurant for great local cuisine.
Considered a more “local” beach than Doctor’s Cave Beach, Aqua Sol Beach is definitely a strand most people enjoy. Spend a day away from your resort and explore Aqua Sol, which offers plenty to do for every member of the family. There are a few food spots on this beach, though some people choose to bring along their coolers and food for the day. Try the nearby Aqua Sol Theme Park which is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., your kids will surely enjoy the experience, which includes go-kart racing, watersports, and more. Aqua Sol Beach is near downtown, so you can always walk down the street to explore some of the shops when you’re through lounging beachside.
Although you generally wouldn’t go to Kingston for a beach vacation, Fort Clarence Beach in Kingston is a great choice for families and tourists and includes lifeguards, a parking area, and beachside dining options, not forgetting blissfully white sands and blue seas. It’s less crowded than some of the other beaches in the Kingston area, and is a great spot for picnics. You can rent out beach chairs for the day, or play volleyball, or maybe just spend some time building sandcastles with the kids. Once you find the right spot, you’re in for a pretty amazing beach day.
Just about 30 minutes west of Ocho Rios, you’ll find this full of character strand which includes a park with a waterslide that kids will love. There are shower and changing facilities and a sprinkling of vendors where you can pick up something to eat or drink closer to Fisherman’s Beach, which is a short walk down the beach. On weekends you’ll find more locals here, and on some weekdays, you’ll pretty much have the beach to yourself. The water here is calm and shallow for a long way out, which is perfect for a beach day with kids. You won’t find beach chairs or umbrella rentals though, so if you need these, you’ll have to bring your own.
Great music, vibes, and food bring a beach experience at Hellshire together. Start your day off by finding the perfect spot, then scoping the best place to try delicious seafood, and in particular, sampling the pepper shrimp sold by Stephanie or ‘Sexy Shrimpie’, as she is known by locals and tourists alike. You may find beach vendors selling things like peanut cake, or fresh lobster, the price of which is usually negotiable. On some days you may even be able to do a reflexology session or get a massage from the Rastafarian masseuse with magic fingers who sometimes frequents the beach. In terms of its physical attributes, the beach has black sand in some places, and you can see the Blue Mountains in the distance. The water is crystal clear, and the beach is usually quite active, sometimes playing host to festivals and concerts. Hellshire beach is about a 30-minute drive from Kingston.
Insider tip: Definitely don’t leave Hellshire Beach until you get your fill of fried fish, which it is famous for. Have your meal with a side of “festival” or “bammy”.
Cornwall Beach in Montego Bay is not necessarily the largest beach, but it is nice and secluded, and great if you just want to go for a swim. If you want to get a beach lounger for the day, you’ll have to get there early in the morning as they run out quickly on days when there are more people on the beach. Cornwall Beach is a short walk from the Hip Strip, and you’ll have to pay $5 for access. It is located right next to Doctor’s Cave Beach. On Cornwall Sundays there’s usually a sunset party, and beachgoers above the legal drinking age limit can participate in a “bottomless” Appleton Rum Mug – which is basically an all-you-can-drink experience.
Burwood Beach in Trelawny has generally good reviews, and is loved for being beautifully maintained and overall naturally appealing. Like many of the best beaches in Jamaica, there’s a small entrance fee to access, which goes towards the maintenance of the beach. The beach is on the northwest coast of Jamaica. The vibe here is relaxed, and Burwood is generally known as a family-friendly beach. There are gazebos, a recreation area for children, beach shacks and restaurants, and lots of cool activities to keep you occupied. After spending a few hours on these shores, you can go explore the town which isn’t too far away.
The popular James Bond movie, Dr. No was filmed in this coastal area, hence the name of the beach. As you can imagine, the beach itself is spectacular, and a visit here will prove just why producers deemed it to be worthy of being one of the standout settings for this popular flick. Just east of Ocho Rios, the beach itself is a bit small, but you’ll be able to enjoy all the regular beach day activities. There’s a small beach bar with a super friendly bartender, and the music from the bar usually drifts onto the beach, adding to the ambiance. There’s a USD5 entry fee, and you can find paddle boards, kayaks, and other gear on rental for an additional cost. You can also go jet-skiing, windsurfing, go on a glass bottom tour, or just enjoy the ocean breeze.
Insider tip: James Bond Beach is located on a 7-minute drive from family friendly all-inclusive resort Beaches Ocho Rios. Sandals largest all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, Sandals Ochi, is located on a 20-minute drive from James Bond Beach. ‘Ochi’ features 16 restaurants on-property and over 100 swimming pools!
A 15-minute boat ride from Port Royale is all it takes to get to Lime Cay, a small island off the coast of Kingston. Lime Cay is actually known to disappear below sea level at high tide, so there really is nothing there but sea and sand. Locals love this spot on weekends, and there’s no entrance fee to access the beach. To get there, you can pay a small fee to a local fisherman who will take you over for the day. Be sure to do your research about it, and don’t go with expectations of a luxury boat charter, which isn’t often the case. When you finally get there, it will be well worth the wild ride as you’ll be able to experience some of the best snorkeling in Jamaica, just as long as you bring along your own snorkeling gear. The best part about this beach is that most days it is pretty secluded, so you’ll have the space to yourself. Ask your hotel, resort of cruise desk to point you in the right direction when planning a trip to Lime Cay.
You’ll feel “irie” on Boston Beach, which is about as laid back as they come. Jam to some Reggae music as the waves gently brush against the shoreline, eat jerk chicken to your heart’s content, or even try some surf lessons. Something about this beach will make you feel as though you’re in the right place, and that all the right elements have come together to create this chill Caribbean gem that a lucky few get to experience while in Jamaica. Both locals and foreigners enjoy going to Boston Bay beach, and the entertainment and food at the beach bar are especially popular.
Turtle Beach is near the cruise port and fairly easy to find. An entry fee of around USD6 gets you in for the day, and you’ll have access to nearby restaurants and a peaceful environment to spend the day. There are a few vendors on the beach, but not so many that you’ll be overwhelmed. There’s also security present on the beach, and chair and gear rentals available. Some people like embarking on the glass bottom boat tour that’s available from this area, but there are many other activities to choose from and a bar where you can grab something ice cold to cool off. The beach is not usually very crowded, and there are changing rooms and washrooms.
Doctor’s Cave Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Montego Bay, and you won’t hear about this beach without learning some of its back story. It goes something like this: There was once a physician who was convinced there were healing properties to the waters of Doctor’s Cave Beach, and upon the news getting out, the beach skyrocketed in popularity. Whether this was ever true or not, it is still a very popular beach and is maintained by the Doctor's Cave Beach Club, which charges a small entrance fee to access the beach. Doctor’s Cave Beach is right near the ‘Hip Strip’ so you’ll be right in the heart of things. There are changing rooms, a beach bar, and you can rent snorkeling gear, beach umbrellas and sun loungers!
If you’re looking for a relatively secluded beach near Ocho Rios, then Pleasure Cove is a good pick. Many people who go there love it so much that they don’t even want to share the details about this hidden gem, but here we are spilling the beans anyway. The beach is public, so you can enjoy its soft sand, sparkling water, and great ambiance for free if you’re in this area. There’s also often jerk chicken and other food and drinks on sale, or you can walk with your own goodies for a full day at the beach.
Exploring Dunn’s River Falls is a must while in Jamaica, but many people don’t know until they go that in addition to the spectacular falls and all the great activities you can participate in while there, that they can also go relax on the Dunn’s River Falls Beach. While the falls cascade over 180 meters, the beach is a little less dramatic, but no less breathtaking. The fact that there’s a beach near this major attraction in Jamaica means you can make an entire day out of your Dunn’s River Falls tour, and spend some time at the beach, snorkeling, or splashing around in the warm sea. Plan your Dunn’s River Falls/Beach tour with Island Routes.
All you need to know about Winnifred Beach in Port Antonio is that it is an excellent choice, and it is ‘free, lovely, and clean’. It is more crowded on the weekends, Sunday especially, since the beach is a favorite for both locals and tourists. Some people however like the crowds for opportunities to people watch and get a real sense of the island. There are many things you can get up to on this beach, including snorkeling (bring along your gear) since there are coral reefs which are relatively easy to access. You can also go horseback riding down the beach and experience a range of other land and sea excursions. If you don’t want to spend on a beach umbrella, go early to secure your spot under one of the lush trees in the area!
There are so many choices when it comes to selecting a good beach in Jamaica that you may very well have to try all of them during your visit! If you’re unable to do this, however, be sure to at least check out Bamboo Beaches, just east of Ochi in St Mary. You’ll pay an $11 USD entry fee which includes a beach chair. Bring along your snorkeling gear as this is a great place to dive. There are three beach bars, one of which jams Reggae tunes all day long, and you may even bump into some local musicians. If you’re into music yourself, have a jam session out on the sand and be inspired by the beauty of this strand, which is also known as Reggae Beach!
Insider tip: Fridays are best for a lively experience at Reggae Beach when the popular after-work lime is held featuring live DJ’s and a bonfire until 1 AM.
Described by some as one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Frenchman’s Cove is a celebrity in its own right. The beach has made several big screen appearances, including in the 1986 Robin Williams movie Club Paradise, and it was once especially popular with Hollywood A-listers. On this beach you’ll find a stream that meanders right into the ocean, and this is one of the unique elements that add to its exotic feel. There’s not as much excitement here as compared to some of the other beaches located closer to city areas, which makes it even more of a great choice. Frenchman’s Cove is postcard worthy, and you won’t regret your time spent there.
Treasure Beach is an amazing ‘off the beaten track’ beach in Jamaica, located on the South Coast of Jamaica with six miles of coral colored beaches. A trip here allows you to get away from the norm, and to explore Jamaica in its most authentic form. There are private coves along the beach, and you’ll find just a few resorts of the more laid-back variety, restaurants, and even nightclubs in the area. Try Floyd’s Pelican Bar, which is quite literally a floating bar where you can also get a taste of freshly caught grilled fish, and other treats. There’s lots to explore in the Treasure Beach area, including the YS Waterfalls!
Insider tip: Heading to Treasure Beach in Jamaica? Here are 10 Tips For An Awesome Experience.
Bloody Bay in Negril may have a not-so-awesome whaling history (giving t its name), but that is a thing of the past. Today, it is a popular beach to spend the day on while in Negril. It is conveniently located near a resort area, so you can expect to see lots of tourists. You can rent kayaks and other gear for water excursions on this beach, or just enjoy the shallow waters which are great for kids. It’s helpful to note that lots of sunset cruises leave from Bloody Bay, as do snorkeling trips. Plan around that to spend some time on the beach and head off straight away on an island tour above or below the ocean.
Picture: White sand and turquoise waters at Sandals Montego Bay all-inclusive beach resort.
Sandals Montego Bay Beach is a tropical paradise come to life, with powdery white sand, clear turquoise ocean, and lots of room to explore. The beach is immaculately maintained, and that may be due in large part to the fact that one of Beaches’ sister resorts, Sandals Montego bay, is located along this stretch and contributes to maintenance efforts. You probably won’t find a more perfect beach in Montego Bay, so it’s a good spot if you want to go to a beach where you won’t be disappointed.
Picture: Endless white sand and turquoise waters at Beaches Negril.
By far the longest and most beautiful beach in Jamaica, Seven Mile Beach makes a compelling case for why it is also one of the best. It is located near some of the most exclusive luxury resorts in Negril and as legend would have it, the beach was once roamed by pirates. Seven Mile Beach is picturesque and filled with things to do, including dining at an ocean front restaurant, or enjoying the famed Jamaican jerk chicken with a side of Red Stripe Beer right on your beach chair, underneath a shady beach umbrella. Watersports abound, and you’ll just have to plan carefully to ensure you have enough time to do it all!
Want to sip on unlimited ice-cold Red Stripe beer and rum infused cocktails on Seven Mile Beach? Stay at Sandals Negril (adults only) or Beaches Negril (family friendly with waterpark), and it’s all included. Even snorkeling, scuba diving trips and equipment, paddle boards, kayaks and water skiing* are included in your stay.
* waterskiing and instructions are only available at Sandals Negril.
Picture: Couple relaxing and enjoying the beach at Sandals Negril, located on Seven Mile beach.
As you by now are able to tell, finding the best beach is more than just selecting the one with the best photos; it is important to know what amenities are available, the activities you can engage in while there, and just what to expect beforehand. We hope these details help you choose the best beaches to spend some time in Jamaica during your vacation.
Happy beach hopping!