Jamaica is a big island with hundreds of miles of coastline, so you'd expect to find a number of great beaches here. Some of the best are located in big resort communities like Montego Bay and Negril, but you can also find great sand, surf, and seaside bars in more overlooked destinations like Port Antonio and Treasure Beach.
Doctor's Cave Beach was named for a physician who donated his beach property to form a swim club; the property was once accessible via a cave that was later destroyed by a hurricane. It's a place full of history, not the least because this is the strip of sand that helped put Montego Bay on the international tourist map. The beach is located in the heart of MoBay and maintained by the Doctor's Cave Beach Club, a membership club that charges an admission fee for use of the beach. It's a small price to pay, however, for access to a great beach that's right off Gloucester Avenue with a clubhouse with changing facilities, the Groovy Grouper beach bar, and other amenities.
Cornwall Beach, Montego Bay
Right down the road from Doctor's Cave (no, really, you can walk there), is Cornwall Beach, a secluded beach with way fewer tourists and a great locale for taking a swim. For $5 (same as Doctor's Cave), visitors can enjoy a relaxing day on the sand with small crowds and a delightful ocean breeze. And, as a bonus, on "Cornwall Sundays," legal beach-goers can partake in a "bottomless" Appleton Rum mug – yum!
If it's a deserted beach you have in mind for your Jamaican vacation, Treasure Beach is the place to go. This south coast beach community, known as much for fishing and farming than tourism, offers a great opportunity to mingle with 'real' Jamaicans far from the tourist hordes. Expect to find uncrowded sands, private coves, and laid-back resorts, dining, and nightclubs. If you need a place to crash, try the barefoot-chic oceanfront Jake's Hotel.
Seven Mile Beach, Negril
The longest beach in Jamaica is one of the island's best. First developed in the 1960s, Seven Mile Beach is lined with resorts but maintains a touch of Negril's free-love spirit with a number of designated areas for nude sunbathing, including at the Hedonism II resort. Harassment by vendors selling everything from hair-braiding to marijuana can be a negative at this beach, however.
Rose Hall Beach, Montego Bay
If you're in Montego Bay and looking for a more sedate beach experience than you'll find downtown, head east to Rose Hall Beach. Stay at one of the luxury beachfront resorts here, such as the Iberostar, Half Moon, or the Hilton Rose Hall, and this glorious strip of sand will be right outside your doorway. If not, you can access this strand at the Rose Hall Beach Club, which has a restaurant, beach bar, and live entertainment, among other amenities.
Boston Bay Beach, Port Antonio
Boston Bay Beach, located in the somewhat faded tourist town of Port Antonio, is known for having some of the best jerk stands and surfing in the country. The beach is frequently by locals and tourists alike.
Mammee Bay Beach, Ocho Rios
Split between public and private beach (half owned by the RIU resort), Mammee Bay is a great option for beach-goers who like playing in the water as much as they like lounging by it. With great waves and warm waters, Mammee Bay is a sweet option for windsurfing, wakeboarding, and more.