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Beaches in Jamaica

Jamaica, Caribbean's insider take:

In Jamaica, all beaches are public (some charge a small entry fee), but a world of difference separates the facilities at a luxury resort and a beach frequented by locals. A stretch of sand like Hellshire Beach near Kingston is less an oasis for relaxation than a full-blown carnival, full of booming music, laughing children, and the odors of jerk chicken and pork cooking on the grill. But that's not to say it's not appealing.

One of the most famous beaches on the island is Seven Mile Beach in Negril, where you can eat, drink, shop, and hop a kayak or a WaveRunner almost anywhere between Bloody Bay and Negril Lighthouse. A runner-up is the lovely, calm cove of Doctor's Cave Beach in Montego Bay—a family playground with all the necessary amenities (water sports, showers, a food court). Farther along the north coast at Oracabessa, James Bond Beach is the place to sample a two-rum Moonraker punch or join a Jet Ski safari along the coast.

Around Port Antonio on the island's northern coast, the best spot for sunning and tanning is Frenchman's Cove, pictured, which was the jet-set resort in the '60s and is once more open to the public. Boston Bay Beach on the east coast has a typically windward, slightly unkempt beach, with lots of local color but few facilities—apart from the famed jerk-food stands, picnic tables, and a carefree, castaway air. Port Antonio's Winifred Beach is largely maintained by the Rastafarians who proffer corn porridge and other vegetarian dishes there (you'll also find restrooms and plenty of shade). The most idyllic place for a dip is the deep Blue Lagoon which swirls with cool water from a nearby mineral stream. The lagoon is tucked in a verdant cove that's accessible only by boat, although most of the area's hotels, including Geejam, can arrange for transport.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.