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Where to Find the Best Beaches in Jamaica

by Lebawit Lily Girma

As the third largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica offers a large number of gorgeous beaches, stretched out over thousands of miles of coastline. The type of beach atmosphere you’re looking for will determine where you should stay. Here are some favourites.

Seven Mile Beach, Negril
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Shutterstock

It’s hard to beat the seven long miles of white sand facing crystal clear turquoise water on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach. All along the beach are outdoor bars, live music venues, guesthouses (budget to luxurious), vendors and jerk chicken grills. Day to night, the atmosphere ranges from party and mayhem to calm and distant sounds of Reggae, depending on the stretch you choose. Overall, Seven Mile is known as the beach that never sleeps, but with the finest length of sand on the island, no one minds. Across the street, on Norman Manley Boulevard, are some famous nightlife establishments—including Jungle Nightclub—and authentic Jamaican eateries. Negril tops everyone’s favourite beach getaway list, Jamaicans and tourists alike.

Cosmos Beach, Negril

A few miles further along Norman Manley Boulevard is the often-forgotten Cosmos Beach—an ideal alternative for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Seven Mile. The beach is so wide and spacious you’ll hardly notice the other tourists. There is a minimal entrance fee of about $5, but it may be waived if you eat at the excellent on-site Cosmos seafood restaurant.

Silver Sands, Duncans Bay
Credit: Lebawit Lily Girma

Credit: Lebawit Lily Girma

Skip the noise and cruise crowds of Ocho Rios by staying in the lovely northern area of Duncans Bay, about half way between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. There, you’ll find beaches that will take your breath away, with little more than one tourist in sight. Stay in a condo to enjoy the exclusive Silver Sands Beach, or enjoy a local guesthouse like Jamaica Jewel, for an authentic feel of island life. And if you feel like mixing it up a little, head to the nearby and more social Runaway Bay Beach.

Cornwall Beach, Montego Bay

If you walk to the end of the famous Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, peppered with tourist-jammed lounge chairs and colourful umbrellas, you’ll stumble onto a secluded, spacious stretch known as Cornwall Beach. There’s an excellent restaurant and bar on the beach where most locals go to relax on the weekend or after work. The small entrance fee (US$3-$5) is worth the peace and quiet. Cornwall Beach occasionally hosts a sunset beach party on Sunday afternoons, with a “bottomless” Appleton mug option (that is, all-you-can-drink rum all night).

Reggae Beach, Portland
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Shutterstock

Jamaica’s eastern coast is still off the beaten path compared to the busier, crowded west. You’ll need a car to get to Reggae Beach, a stunning spot where locals and the occasional savvy tourist relax. There are jerk stands on site, and occasional live Reggae.

Boston Bay Beach, Portland

A beautiful small cove-like beach with waves good enough to surf, Boston Bay Beach is adjacent to the famous Boston Bay jerk stands, serving up the best jerk cuisine (and jerk sauce) on the island. Can you say “ideal location”?

While Jamaica’s beaches are generally safe, remember to always practice safety—avoid swimming alone or in rough weather, particularly on the east coast, where there are strong currents.

All beaches are public, so just grab your towel and find any spot you like—no problem, mon!

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