The world-famous Frenchman’s cove beach is in Portland, Jamaica. This property was once exclusive to the wealthy, but it opened to the public in the 1980s—one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen in Jamaica.
Picture perfect as if cut from a classic romance movie scene. This tropical paradise was the backdrop for two films, Lord Of The Flies and Knight And Day.
Freshwater from the blue mountain meanders through the property and meets the sea at the cove creating a perfect balance of warmth and cold.
The rocks with vegetation covering both sides form a gateway from the ocean to this tropical paradise, hiding it from prying eyes. A vast jungle at the back and two massive rocks at the front give privacy and seclusion, two things you want on your island getaway.
Also on the 45 acres property is the Frenchman’s Cove Hotel, which was once the first all-inclusive resort in the world and the most expensive. Only the rich and famous could enjoy it.
No longer exclusive, anyone can book and enjoy a piece of paradise.
How to get to Frenchman’s Cove?
It will take about two hours from Ochi Rios to get to Frenchman’s Cove beach. From Ochi Rios, two hours, Montego Bay four hours, Negril five hours, and Kingston two and a half hours. Google Maps works fine and will take you to your destination. If in doubt, stick to the coast once you reach the historic town of Port Antonio. There is clear signage, and the beach is about 25 minutes away.
The road network on the coast is good, so you dont have to worry too much about potholes; however, look out for crazy drivers. If traveling from Kingston vi Stoney Hill, sections of the roads are narrow with a few potholes. Also, there are colossal precipices for most of the journey through the mountains—this is not the route for inexperienced drivers. The Edward Seaga Toll road to Ochi, then the drive along the coast is better, although it will take an extra hour.
Leave for your destination early so you can enjoy the scenery along the way and take a few photos. There are so many exciting sights along the way. If you are not careful, you might not make it to Frenchman’s Cove beach.
Portland is the most beautiful parish in Jamaica and has many historical sites. Rivers, waterfalls, and lagoons would take weeks to explore. These famous sites you will pass along the route to French’s Man Cove beach, Folly Lighthouse, Folly Ruines, Port Antonio, Summer Set Falls, Maroon Town, Rio Grande ( rafting), and Errol Flynn Marina.
What to do at Frenchman’s Cove Beach
Apart from the obvious, swimming in the turquoise water or dip in a crystal clear river, you can ride on one of the swings on the beach, dive in the ocean from a huge rock, jump from one of the enormous branches hanging over the river or relax under a shade and read.
The calm and relaxed river would be perfect if the waves are too ruff and the ocean too warm. Swim unbothered at your heart’s content.
The place is so serene, even on a busy weekend; you feel like you are on a private island in the middle of nowhere. Can you imagine weekdays when there are not many people around? The beach opens at 9 am and closes at 5 pm. So it is best to go in the week or early on weekends when there are fewer people.
Frenchman’s Cove beach is a host venue; you can rent the entire site or a section depending on your budget and needs. If you are planning your dream wedding, it is the perfect backdrop for a classic theme.
Cost for Entry and Food
Locals pay JM $1000 for adults and $500JM for children under 12. ID is required. Foreign nationals pay USD 12, and for children under 12, USD 6. You can purchase tickets from their website.
They dont allow outside on the property. The food there is not the cheapest, but affordable. Jerk Chicken, seafood, and other Jamaican favorite are on the menu. There is alcohol and other beverages available at the restaurant.
We paid JM $2800 for two-quarters of jerk chicken, two servings of bammy, and two bottles of malta. However, I hear customers complain about the cost of seafood, so it might not be the best option if you are on a budget.
Despite the weekend crowd during our visit, the attendance did a significant job monitoring traffic and keeping the facility tidy. The bathrooms are clean and spacious. It’s midnight and day compared to an attraction popular with locals that we visited in Saint Thomas, where there was no such convenience.
At Frenchman’s Cove beach, there were even lockers where you could leave your stuff. However, they are not safes, so I wouldn’t recommend putting anything of high value inside.
On Frenchman’s Cove website, beach chairs were available for rent, but we could not get any because of covid restrictions. We had to make use of the few plastic chairs on the property. There are park-style benches where you and sit and eat. Only a few, but only available.
You have three options for parking outside, inside the reception area, or close to the beach. We visited on the weekend afternoon all the parking spaces inside were taken, so we had to park outside. It is safe to park outside because there is security, and Portland is the safest parish on the island, so unlikely anybody will break into your vehicle.
It’s about a five walk from the entrance to the beach. The gardens and river running through the property add to the Frenchman’s Cove beach experience. So it’s best to park at the gate, enjoy the scenery, and snap a few Instagram pictures along the way.
There are lifeguards on duty, and it is safe to swim; however, if you are not a good swimmer, dont venture out into the ocean. Although the water is not too deep, strong currents could make things difficult for non-swimmers. In addition, the pull of the wave could take you further than you are comfortable swimming.
Fun things to do at Frenchman’s Cove beach
Clift jumping is a fun thing to do if you are a good swimmer. Swim out to one of the huge rocks that form a gateway to the shore and jump.
Enormous tree branches hang over the ocean with swings tied to them; its fun to swing and then dive.
Diving from huge tree branches hanging over the river is another fun thing you can do. However, check the depth of the water before diving. Some parts of the river are shallow.
The section of the beach where the river meets the ocean is cold, while further away is warm. If you prefer warm waters, swim further away from the river.
Frenchman’s Cove beach offers something unique and cannot be replicated anywhere. This property’s tranquility and privacy show why it was so popular among the rich and famous. It is one of many stops on our tour of Portland. So far, it is the most beautiful beach I have seen on the island. I regret not exploring this beautiful parish sooner and enjoying this beach and others like it.
Here is a view of the entry to the Frenchman’s Cove property, the beach, and the gardens.