With a strong reggae culture that encourages a relaxed, stress-free atmosphere, friendly Jamaica is full of places to unwind in the sunshine while your cares slowly drift away.
While the best beaches in Jamaica can sometimes get busy, they’re never really crowded as the island has more than 50 public beaches and plenty of places for tourists and locals to stretch out in the sand. With dozens of white-sand beaches to discover, there’s a good chance you’ll find your little slice of paradise while on vacation in Jamaica.
If you’re planning your next island getaway, consider this list of Jamaica’s best beaches and make sure you don’t miss out on these heavenly sites during your Jamaica getaway.
After a day of sightseeing near Falmouth, consider spending the afternoon at Bamboo Beach, a private beach club flanked by large palm trees. With a shallow drop-off and white-sand shores, it’s one of the best places to visit in Jamaica if you want to alternate between swimming and relaxing on a cushioned sun chair.
You can rent snorkel gear and kayaks or even get a relaxing beachside massage. There’s also a beach bar with plenty of frozen Caribbean rum cocktails (and mocktails) on offer. If you’re a surfer, know that Jamaica never gets big surfs or swells. But on the upside, you don’t have to worry about the weather; Bamboo beach always has gentle waves and warm 82-degree Fahrenheit water temperatures.
Though the focus is on relaxation while at Bamboo Beach, make time to catch one of the cultural performances on the sand throughout the day. Various performers skilled in traditional artistic expressions will treat guests to steel drum music shows and dances while dressed in traditional Jamaican outfits. It’s one of the best beaches in Jamaica if you want to relax and be exposed to Jamaica’s artistic expressions.
Doctor’s Cave Beach
Sure, it’s a strange name for a beach, but Doctor’s Cave Beach is truly one of the best white-sand beaches in Jamaica. In addition to sugar-soft sand, the beach offers gentle surf and inviting water temperatures. It’s not the best place if you’re hoping to catch a wave, but it’s ideal if you prefer swimming, snorkeling, or just floating in the water in between drinks.
Read: Where to Find the Best Snorkeling in the Caribbean
As for its name, the beach was christened back in the 1920s after a European doctor visited and returned to his homeland with stories about how much healthier and vibrant he felt after visiting the white-sand beach.
It’s nearly five miles long, making it a great beach to visit in Jamaica during high tourist season as there’s always enough space for everyone. You can bring your own snorkel gear or rent some equipment on site, along with everything else you’ll need for the day. Aside from Negril’s Seven Mile Beach, it’s probably one of the most famous on the island. However, it’s closer to Falmouth than Seven Mile Beach, making it a better choice for travelers that are staying on the north shore.
Dunn’s River Falls Beach
Dunn’s River Falls is perhaps one of the most unique beaches in Jamaica. Over the past centuries, it’s gone by several different names but all monikers were rooted in the area’s fantastic geographical features: streams, rivers, waterfalls, and thermal activity.
While you certainly don’t want to miss your chance to swim beneath the 160-foot-tall jungle waterfall, you’d be forgiven if you spent most of your time at the Dunn’s River Falls beach just a few steps from the base of the falls. Thankfully, all-day access to the beach is included in the cost of a Dunn’s River Falls waterfall and hiking pass.
There’s plenty to do and see if you don’t want to stay on the beach the whole time, including the namesake waterfall (and its many splashing tiers), a play area for kids, a handicraft market, and a beach bar and restaurant. It’s the best beach in Jamaica if you’re traveling with a group of people with several different interests: Mom and Dad can relax on the beach, while the kids or grandkids hike Dunn’s River Falls.
If you’re near Falmouth, consider spending some time at Burwood Beach, located only a quick taxi ride west of Falmouth. Or if you feel like stretching your legs a bit, you can also walk to the beach in about fifteen minutes from the center of town.
The relaxed and calm atmosphere at Burwood makes it one of the best beaches in Jamaica for those looking for a low-key beach day rather than an all-inclusive pass at a luxurious beach resort. Grab a small cooler and pack it with a few beach drinks for the afternoon or stop by for an hour to catch a few rays before heading elsewhere to watch the sunset.
While Burwood Beach is small, it’s not as well-known as other Jamaica beaches and therefore generally doesn’t attract too many people. There are usually a few vendors in the area selling cold drinks and snacks, but there aren’t any beach clubs or activity-booking services. It’s no surprise that so many Falmouth locals and visitors want to spend an hour or two here in the sun.
Seven Mile Beach
You can’t make a list of the best beaches in Jamaica, or the best white-sand beaches in the Caribbean, without mentioning Seven Mile Beach. Its enduring presence on lists of the world’s best beaches is probably because of its sheer size. Here, there’s no shortage of areas to pose for vacation photos with seven miles of sandy beaches stretched in front of you and rocky coves, beachside cliffs, and hidden bays that also provided picturesque backgrounds.
Seven Mile Beach is probably the most well-known white-sand beach in Jamaica and a stroll down its shoreline feels like you’re walking across powdered sugar. The water at Seven Mile Beach is also spectacular. Whether you want to call it turquoise, aquamarine, or azure, it’s as blue as can be. Extremely clear and clean, the water’s blue hues go on for miles and miles.
Since Seven Mile Beach is so large, there are different areas for different types of guests. Some sections have dozens of beach bars and amenities, while other segments are mostly undeveloped, save for the occasional public restroom.
Blue Waters Beach Club
Another private beach club not too far from Falmouth, Blue Waters Beach Club is a place where guests are guaranteed to have a relaxing vacation. Several rows of beach loungers ensure everyone can find a seat and on-site massages under thatched-roof palapas are available in case you need extra assistance in getting the stress out of your shoulders. All-inclusive access includes unlimited trips to the buffet and Jamaican cocktails, beers, wines, plus on-site Wi-Fi—only so you can make sure your out-of-office reply is still working, of course.
Blue Waters Beach club usually has a live band for guests who want to socialize and enjoy live music all afternoon. But if you’re the type of person that is more entertained by fish than by live music, you’ll want to rent a kayak or snorkel gear and head out into the gentle surf to take a peek at the marine life in the area.
Just behind the rows of beach loungers is an additional wide, sandy space that has plenty of room to play beach volleyball or toss a frisbee. If you get too warm, move the volleyball game into the water, where there’s a protected, roped-off area for swimming, Blue Water Beach is an ideal place for kids, novice swimmers, and people who would prefer not to get their hair wet.
After a huge cleanup and renovation project, Jamaica’s newest beach, Harmony Beach Park, opened in May 2021. The new beach park is one of the best in Jamaica if you like to do more than sit in the sand. The park has a jogging trail and a separate beachside promenade if you wish to go for an afternoon stroll along the shore.
This large crescent-shaped swath of sand in Montego Bay also has free Wi-Fi at the park, in case you forgot to download a new beach book on your e-reader and a large lawn just off the shore that is perfect for impromptu frisbee games and picnics. The government spent more than one million dollars to redevelop the park in 2020 and it shows. It’s now one of Jamaica’s best white-sand beaches and is planning on having additional food, drink, and activity vendors added throughout summer 2021.
Ochos Rios Bay Beach
If you’re headed in the direction of Kingston, plan to make a stop on your way back at Ochos Rios Bay Beach. It’s east of Falmouth along Highway A1 and while the drive can take up to an hour, it’s an easy trip.
Ochos Rios Bay Beach is also called “Turtle Beach,” a fitting nickname as sea turtles abound in the grassy area and reefs. It’s definitely one of the island’s best white-sand beaches, but it’s what’s underneath the water that allures travelers to return.
The coral reefs at Ochos Rios Bay are some of the best in Jamaica, thanks in part to a calm surf that doesn’t disturb the sand. Clear water ensures you can see all the fish, crustaceans, sea turtles, and starfish that call this place home.
On land, rent beach chairs and sun loungers or stop by the “Beach Bar and Restaurant” for a cold beer and fresh fish. There’s also a stand where you can rent snorkel gear or sign up for gentle adventures like kayak trips or high-octane activities like oceanfront jetpack tours. If you’re planning to snorkel, consider bringing water shoes and a long-sleeve water shirt to protect your skin while in the water.
Bloody Bay Beach
Don’t let Bloody Bay’s name fool you, as this stretch of sand is known as a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers. This white-sand beach runs the length of the cove and certainly attracts its share of visitors, too. Although a portion of the beach is exclusively for nearby hotel guests, most of it is open to the public.
Small groups of palm trees are scattered on the sand, therefore there’s a good chance of finding a shady spot to relax for the day. However, if you do settle in the sun, it’s easy to get in the water once you start heating up.
The water here is clear, warm, and calm with easy entry and exits. It’s the ideal place to go for a swim or sit in the surf as the water ebbs and flows over your feet. After your swim, try to claim one of the many hammocks hanging from the palms or head to one of several toes-in-the-sand beach bars for a rum punch.
While the beaches above represent some of the best white sand beaches in Jamaica, they’re not the only places to get a tan. Jamaica is an outdoorsy island with activities like horseback riding in the surf, playing with dolphins under the guidance of a trained marine biologist, cruising through the island’s interior on an ATV tour, or sampling local rums on an afternoon catamaran sail.
Take time to visit at least one or two of the best beaches in Jamaica, and fill your days with plenty of other exciting excursions once you’ve had your fill of white sand—if that’s possible. Click here to explore all the activities and adventures available during a Celebrity cruise to Jamaica, or click here to check out more of our incredible itineraries throughout the Caribbean.