Jamaica's Most Beautiful Beaches
Jamaica holds many quiet waterfront treasures waiting to be discovered by intrepid travelers. This fascinating island still retains a strong African identity, more so than any other Caribbean island, and the colorful culture will be unearthed by those seeking experiences beyond the resort-heavy beaches frequented by most visitors. Sure, there are still popular waterfront gems, like Doctor's Cave Beach and Seven Mile Beach, but for those willing to drive a bit farther, there are also silken sands and turquoise waters that seem mere steps from paradise. It's on these secret shores that you'll also find true Jamaican specialties: live reggae music and hotter-than-Hades spiced jerk pork and chicken sold from beachside vendors. From standard beach hotspots to more hidden places filled with amazing food and authentic reggae beats, we've uncovered Jamaica's best beaches.
Doctor's Cave Beach
The stretch of golden sand and calm, rippling waters of Doctor's Cave Beach on Montego Bay have won the hearts of Jamaican tourists and locals alike. Easily one of Jamaica's most popular beach haunts, Doctor's Cave Beach manages to feel surprisingly intimate thanks to its ban on radios, footballs and vendors. Still, its location near a number of large resorts means it can get crowded during the height of the winter season.
The bay's sheltered location means tranquil waves perpetually lap at the shore, reaching typical year-round temperatures between 78 and 84 degrees. A small fee is required for admittance to Doctor's Cave Beach, but the facilities are stellar, including clean, tiled changing rooms, and rental equipment, such as chairs, umbrellas and snorkeling equipment. Food is available at nearby beach restaurants, like the Groovy Grouper Bar and Grill, and other watersports and tour activities can be booked from here, including glass-bottom boat tours, sailing, kayaking and water-skiing.
Seven Mile Beach
If you're ready to get your "Jamaican Me Crazy" party going while soaking up the sun, head directly to Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica's hot spot for sunbathing scenesters. The name doesn't lie; indeed, Seven Mile beach is a 7-mile stretch of gorgeous sand, crowded with sexy sunbathers, locals, families and even a few nudists lurking in designated nude areas.
Vendors wander the sand selling street food like jerk chicken, and the number of watersport options and outfitters are vast. The party on the sands continues well into the night, with live reggae music thumping from Alfred's Ocean Palace, where partiers dance on the sand. Or if you're more of a night owl, hit up the Jungle Night Club where the party continues rocking 'til dawn.
Off the beaten path along Jamaica's southern shores lies Treasure Beach, actually a collection of 4 separate fishing villages and dark sand beaches stretching for nearly 6 miles, blissfully untrodden by swarms of tourists. Of course, the lack of tourists is due in part to the area's distance from the airport -- a solid 2-hour drive over seriously bumpy backroads. Still, it's worth the distance to realize such an idyllic spot exists on resort-strewn Jamaica.
Attracting an admittedly peaced-out crown, Treasure Beach has a handful of lodging options, including beachfront cottage rentals and charming guesthouses, many of which are located in Frenchman's Bay and Calabash Bay, the area's 2 most popular beaches. The Santa Cruz Mountains provide a gorgeous backdrop to waters dotted with colorful fishing vessels; the scene leaves visitors feeling like they've just uncovered Jamaica's still-secret shores. Though isolated, Treasure Beach is far from dull. After sunset, hit up the Pelican Bar to toss back ice-cold Red Stripes, or Frenchman's Reef restaurant for spicy jerk chicken and lobster at shockingly good prices.
Boston Bay Beach
With water so bright blue it almost hurts to stare, Boston Bay Beach is not only a picture-perfect cove flanked by tree-covered rocks, it's also a surfer's paradise and home to Jamaica's best jerk stands, said to dish up the finest -- and hottest -- spicy jerk food and sauce in Jamaica.
Located on the island's eastern shore, the beach's large waves attract surfers, and it's possible for travelers to rent boards or for novices to get surfing or windsurfing lessons from one of the beachfront outfitters. While the sands are silky white, the water is perfect for a dip or surfing. Make sure to arrive hungry and take advantage of the food; Boston Bay is, after all, considered the birthplace of jerk food in Jamaica.
On the 1/4-mile stretch of Reggae Beach, it's quite likely you'll hear the soothing sounds of afternoon reggae jam sessions that regularly take place on the soft sands. The Reggae Beach is a true hotbed of sound, as local musicians flock here to play tunes and enjoy the soft sands and crystal clear water.
Flanked by cliffs on either side, Reggae Beach could hardly be more picturesque, and with waters filled with fan corals and colorful clownfish and rays, it also offers good snorkeling opportunities. Grab a cold cocktail or a jerk chicken platter at one of 3 beachfront bars, while listening to DJs or the frequent live music. Plan to visit on a Friday, when the popular after-work jam sessions are held and DJs spins tunes while a bonfire blazes 'til 1 a.m.