Beach Lunch at Fort Clarence


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For our first weekend in Jamaica, we decided that our first exploratory trip outside of Kingston would be to a nearby beach.  We picked Fort Clarence as our destination, a beach that’s about a 40 minute drive, and one of few popular weekend destinations for Kingstonians.  Its a pay beach, charging the equivalent of a couple of dollars for entry, which is enough to keep the largest crowds away as well as the hoards of vendors that we hear work other public beaches nearby. I had enough of that in Boracay and other Filipino destinations where foreigners were essentially shark bait for the entire day.

We went early to avoid the crowds and it was a short, easy trip on a modern highway. The beach and water were relatively clean, although there’s a bad seaweed problem, which to me is a sign of pollution, and I hear the weeds can be pretty stinky if you go there at the wrong time. There was a clean up crew in place that morning, raking the seaweed into black plastic bags, but at they worked their way down the beach they left as much as they took, so the beach still had more of a natural look, rather than a groomed appearance like tourist beaches in Jamaica’s northern resorts.  I wonder if they just burn the seaweed or perhaps make something useful like fertiliser out of it?

The day was hot and I hung out under a group of large, gnarly mangrove-like trees (whose name I have yet to learn) and watched while Robert and Latham went swimming.  They reminded me of banyan trees with their elaborate root systems and tangle of branches.  Two lay on their sides, victims of a hurricane, I’m sure. Someone had crafted picnic tables and chairs from odd pieces of old wood. It was a very natural and pretty comfortable place to hang out.

Fort Clarence beach

The beach actually had lifeguards. Note the seawood problem and the man raking it up on the extreme right of the photo.

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The roots from a fallen tree provided shade for our lunch

We were spotted pretty quickly by one of the restaurant owners and encouraged to order a fish lunch and, as this was indeed an exploratory day, decided to give it a try. We order local lobster and whole red snapper, which she helped us pick out from the cooler on the restaurant floor. She also “threw in” a freebie: a very unusual looking ugly fish that was half fish/half mollusc. I’ve never seen anything like it, I hope it wasn’t endangered. She told me its name, but of course I’ve forgotten…. but it did taste good.

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Everything was served on styrofoam and plastic. Its been years since I’ve eaten from a styrofoam plate, as its as good as banned in the US and the UK. Here its very commonplace and I have a hard time with it on a number of levels. Apart from being an enviromental nightmare, it squeaks in a way that puts my teeth on edge and on the windy beach it wanted to blow away at the first opportunity.

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The food was very good though. I learnt that I don’t like bammy cakes very much — way too heavy — but breadfruit was pretty good. The festivals were fresh and hot but so filling that I knew that if I ate more than a couple of bites, I’d have no room left for the fancy fish.

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Our neighbours on the next table were enjoying a different kind of shellfish. Does anyone know what they are?

Beach lunch near Kingston, Jamaica

Lunch before we tucked in. Lobster on the left, red snapper on the middle. The plate on the right has festivals (long, fried cornmeal bread fingers), bammy cakes (fried bread made from cassava flour) and fried breadfruit.

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Latham was thrilled to finally be getting some Jamaican food before he headed back to London.

It was a nice day trip out, although I’m not sure that it will be a regular spot. There are so many other places to see and many nicer beaches, although they are a much longer drive. I’m also not very good at hanging out on the beach and prefer the quiet and privacy of a shaded verandah somewhere with good views, but Fort Clarence was a good start.

4 thoughts on “Beach Lunch at Fort Clarence

    • Avocados here are fantastic! I’ve yet to open a bad one. They actually call them pears not avocados and they are usually big and beautiful. (I think the meal needed a salad, but I suppose lettuce doesn’t do so well in the sun!)

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