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7 Reasons Why You Should Visit This Secret Authentic Beach Town In Jamaica

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For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with Jamaica's culture and thought Kingston would be just the place to get my fill rather than touristy resort towns.

I was wrong, or so I thought.

Immediately upon passing through customs, I ordered an Uber ride and my first interaction with the driver ended up being a classic case of “don't judge a book by its cover”.

In short, I thought I was being robbed given his off-putting requirement to sit up front and insistence to stop at the most run-down gas station I've ever seen in my life when he wasn't low on fuel.

Blue waters of Hellshire Beach, Jamaica

The good news is I was not robbed and never have been in my travels. This was just a cultural mix-up in a city I knew was deemed unsafe.

Beyond this hiccup within the first half hour of arriving, I truly loved my trip. Especially, the hidden beach I found.

Here are 7 reasons why you should visit this secret authentic beach town in Jamaica:

Hellshire Beach – Locals' Secret Escape

Beach homes in Hellshire Beach, Jamaica

Admittedly, I did not do the amount of research I should have before visiting Kingston.

I booked the trip last minute with an expiring flight voucher.

Already jet-lagged and frazzled after landing and even more so when I saw the coastline of Kingston is kind of, well, not exactly paradise.

Perhaps I'd listened to Welcome to Jamrock too many times, but I pictured palm tree-lined streets with Reggae blasting, machete-wielding coconut vendors, and Jerk Chicken stands.

My expectations fell flat.

After visiting Port Royal, downtown markets, the ritzy side of New Kingston, and Bob Marley's house, I was determined to find a nice beach without an hours-long trip to an inauthentic resort town.

And 3 days into my trip, I found the beach where locals go to escape – the culturally authentic secret beach of Hellshire, just outside of Portmore.

Easy To Reach

Highway in Portmore, Jamaica

Portmore is the next town over from Kingston and seems like a no-frills place at first glance, but tucked away beyond the clearly marked alligator-infested waters is a tiny sliver of paradise.

An Uber from downtown Kingston is under 30 minutes for a beach trip and I will say there were no other sketchy ride experiences.

In fact, some of my most friendly exchanges in the city were with Uber drivers where some did question my sanity taking a solo trip to Kingston, while others beamed with pride and loved that I was visiting.

Taxis in other countries can be iffy, but I did take one back due to the dreaded spinning circle on my phone due to a poor signal and it was actually much cheaper than Uber.

Truly Authentic

Jamaican vendor selling handmade goods in Hellshire Beach, Jamaica

Kingston has very welcoming people, but other than one hole-in-the-wall Jerk Chicken stand, I had trouble finding anywhere that felt truly authentic.

That is until I reached the roundabout entrance to Hellshire Beach where I knew I ‘wasn't in Kansas anymore'.

My Uber dropped me off where the pavement met bumpy dirt roads and instantly I felt like I was in the Jamaica I envisioned with the smells of restaurants grilling their ‘catch of the day', the ocean breeze, and finally the sounds of Reggae blasting from afar and overall Rasta vibes.

A Foodie Heaven, But Beware Of Scams

Plate of freshly cooked Lobster and Festival in Hellshire Beach

If Hellshire Beach has a claim to fame, it's food. There have to be at least a dozen seaside shacks grilling and frying up fresh seafood each with a different menu.

I chose lobster and it was some of the best I've ever had. There is a catch, however, beachgoers should know about.

If you're an obvious outsider you can be targeted with inflated prices and inaccurate measurements since it's sold by the pound.

Backed my own experience and various reviews, you may need to haggle, which is totally normal and expected by these vendors.

No Resorts Needed

Sunset near Hellshire Beach, Jamaica

There is one hotel at Hellshire Beach a select few vacation rentals, unlike the many other top beach destinations around the island.

This small beach is not for a weeklong trip like Ocho Rios or Montego Bay; it's more of a day trip or weekend getaway.

Hellshire is a place to get a taste of local culture while still spending a sun-soaked day on a nice Caribbean beach.

Clean Blue Waters

Aerial view of Hellshire Beach in Jamaica

Not to trash Kingston, but there are some obvious eyesores around the city. Sitting on a scenic waterfront restaurant patio, you can't help but notice the amount of trash washing ashore.

Here, that wasn't an issue. Although, you will want to stay toward the middle of the beach as the far ends are a bit rocky.

The water is clear, relatively calm, and perfectly suitable for swimming or lounging in the sun with a cheap beer in hand.

Far Less Crowds

white sand on Hellshire beach in Jamaica

Jamaica is breaking tourism records and this is largely in part to the lavish beachfront resorts vacationers swoon over.

Obviously, the downside is crowded beaches as every tourist wants to go to the same place. If Kingston is your gateway into the country, Hellshire Beach is the best for your beach fix without having to travel hours away.

The beach may be small lacking all the shiny new things, but it checks all the boxes for a quintessential Jamaican getaway without the glitz and glamour.

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