Best Beaches in Jamaica
In Jamaica, you can soak up way more than just the sun. The destination is renowned for its rich musical history, from reggae heavyweights like Bob Marley to newbie pop star OMI to industry producer-turned-hotelier Chris Blackwell, who runs a stylish collection of properties under Island Outpost Resorts. Food is a star attraction, too, as Jamaica's fertile land and melting pot of cultures—African, Indian, Chinese, Spanish, and British, to name a few—has informed its culinary traditions. You can't go the island and not sample local specialties like goat curry, ackee and saltfish, fried plantains, and yes, jerk chicken, washed down with a sip or two of local rum.
But it's the island's beaches that are arguably the biggest crowd pleasers, and the reason visitors keep returning again and again. Touch down in Montego Bay, and you're just steps from one of Jamaica’s most sophisticated beach resorts—Round Hill, a favorite with celebrities like Ralph Lauren. Move west to Negril, and you'll find world-famous Seven Mile Beach, a golden stretch of perfect, powdery soft sand that's popular with both locals and tourists. On the north coast of the island sits Ocho Rios, another area with fantastic beaches and elegant resorts, like the historic Jamaica Inn. Drive further east, and you'll hit the chic, laid-back community of Port Antonio. During its heyday in the 1950s, celebrities such as Errol Flynn, Richard Burton, and Elizabeth Taylor would visit. Today, the sleepy resort town is still home to a clutch of cool hotels, like the Kanopi House and Geejam.
So whatever type of beach vacation you’re looking for, be it adventurous or totally laid-back, Jamaica has the answer. Here, a few of our favorite sandy spots on this iconic Caribbean destination.
Doctor’s Cave Beach, Montego Bay
This Montego Bay beach may be on the small side, but it’s got a lively atmosphere, drawing locals and tourists to its white sandy shores. The turquoise waters are also calm and warm, making it a perfect place for families. Snorkel gear, beach chairs, and umbrellas are available to rent; you will have to pay a small fee to use the beach.
Seven Mile Beach, Negril
Lined with a handful of bars, restaurants, and resorts, this is arguably Negril’s star attraction. (The length is closer to five miles than seven, but it still Jamaica’s longest beach.) Visitors are free to visit, and can rent kayaks and sailboats to head out on the water. Vendors sell local delicacies, and there are picnic tables so that you can enjoy a casual lunch. Alternatively, stop by a beach bar like Mama Floe’s for a rum punch.
Frenchman’s Cove, Port Antonio
This beautiful white sand beach, where a postcard-perfect stream runs into the sea, was once a haven for the celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Errol Flynn, who would stay at the Frenchman’s Cove Resort. Believe it or not, the beach itself has also made a cameo in several films and shows, including the campy 1986 Robin Williams movie Club Paradise. Today, the beach and resort still draw travelers in search of a quieter side of Jamaica.
Jamaica Inn Beach, Ocho Rios
Check into the Jamaica Inn, and you’ll be able to lounge on one of the most exclusive beaches in all of the Caribbean. Framed by swaying palms and backed by an historic main house, this long golden stretch of sand has just a smattering of chaise loungers—for guests only. Honeymooners will love the relaxed but elegant vibe, and can splurge on massages at their open-air Ocean Spa, set in a cliff above Cutlass Bay.
Low Cay Beach, Oracabessa Bay
GoldenEye was once the vacation home of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, who would come here to write and unwind. Today, the property is owned by Jamaican music industry executive Chris Blackwell, who has turned it in to a posh resort—recently expanded to include 26 new beach huts. Many offer sea views and face beautiful Low Cay Beach, a sheltered, 500-foot cove that anchors this secluded property. Guests can also swim and stand-up paddleboard in the four-acre lagoon.
Boston Bay Beach, Port Antonio
One could argue that you come to Boston Bay not to swim, but to eat, since the destination is considered the birthplace of jerk cooking. Work up your appetite jumping in the waves or surfing at the beach (it’s easy to rent a board if you don’t have your own). Then, head to one of the many jerk stalls to taste test perfectly seasoned pork, chicken, lobster, or sausages, accompanied by rice and peas.
Winnifred Beach, Port Antonio
Popular with both locals and tourists, this lovely, white-sand pubic beach is one of Port Antonio’s finest. If you’re into snorkeling, pack your fins and a mask—there is an excellent reef just off shore.
Treasure Beach, South Coast
If you’re looking to get away from some of the more popular resort destinations, such as Negril, Montego Bay, or Ocho Rios, Treasure Beach—a series of picturesque sandy stretches and coves—is an excellent choice. Along the South Coast the pace is even more relaxed, and you’ll find rustic-chic accommodations like Jakes. One place you can’t miss is the Pelican Bar, a quirky, ramshackle watering hole built on a sandbar in the middle of the sea, where you can order a Red Stripe and fish that’s caught and cooked on-site.
Burwood Beach, Trelawny
Home to calm aqua waters and a relaxed vibe, this family-friendly beach near Falmouth was recently revitalized, with a new bandstand, gazebos, and a children’s recreation area all opening this past year. Cruise ship passengers who dock in Montego Bay can also take advantage of this beach, since it’s just a 30-minute drive away.
Puerto Seco Beach, Discovery Bay
Family travelers will enjoy this bustling but atmospheric public beach, about 30 minutes west of Ocho Rios, since it has a park complete with a waterslide tailor-made for kids. You’ll also find shower and changing facilities, and several vendors selling affordable lunch food. Weekends tend to get busier and draw more locals, so head here on a weekday if you want a little more space to roam free.
James Bond Beach, Oracabessa Bay
Located just east of Ocho Rios, this north coast stunner was the setting for scenes from the James Bond film, Dr. No. Here, the waters are an incredible green-blue, and you can go on a glass-bottom boat tour, Jet-ski, or wind surf—or simply revel on dry land in the warm Caribbean sun.
Round Hill Beach, Montego Bay
Round Hill is one of Jamaica’s most exclusive resorts, a manicured paradise spread out over 110 acres. The 36 whitewashed guest rooms with four-poster beds were designed by none other than fashion maven Ralph Lauren, who has a villa on the property. There is a natural tropical reef just a few yards off shore, so guests can go snorkeling or kayaking. Further out, you can scuba, water ski, or go tubing.