F is for Frenchman’s Cove


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The beach at Frenchman’s Cove

We haven’t been on a lot of day trips in Jamaica.  I’ve missed getting out for a few hours to find new places and get to know the island better.  But we did take a trip a couple of weeks ago to Frenchman’s Cove, one of Jamaica’s better known local beaches.

Frenchman’s Cove is located on the North-east coast near Port Antonio, away from the North-west’s string of international, all-inclusive resort hotels.  Back in the day, the North-east was once an exclusive Winter getaway for the rich and famous, and Port Antonio was the hub.  Errol Flynn, Ian Fleming and Noel Coward all had homes there.  It was as charming, as it was undeveloped.  Nowadays it has still has some of the charm left, but of the very faded variety.  Unlike Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, there has been little development of new resorts and no attempt at preserving the character of its older houses or churches.   I enjoyed driving through the town, but there was nothing really there to make you stay a while.  Its a shame, as I think it deserved better.

Frenchman’s Creek is a pay beach, not a public one.  At about $7/head it’s not cheap for many Jamaican families for a day trip, but it does mean that there a no vendors to bug you.  There’s also a small hotel right on the beach, but it badly neglected and Trip Advisor photographs tell a terrible story of bad mildew and disastrous plumbing experiences, which is too bad as the beach is lovely and it would have been great to stay there the night and make a weekend of it.

We arrived on Ash Wednesday, a big Jamaican holiday, and the beach was pretty busy.  There were lots of Jamaican families and singles and , to my knowledge, we were the only foreigners.

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The sea was a pretty rough — unusually so, I’m told — and a bit too much for me to want to tackle.  But the kids loved it and threw themselves into the breaking white horses, trying to body surf.

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Way too rough for me!

More kids swung from the rope swings and Tarzan ladders that hung from trees by the river that terminated right on the beach, pouring clean, cold fresh water into the sea. With a calmer tide, it might have been fun to swim through the mixing currents.

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The water was remarkably clear and cold.   On a quieter day I might have just hung out here.

It is a really nice spot. Although is was a bit too busy for me and the restaurant service was really slow, it didn’t really matter too much. There was no loud music, which made me happy, and it was just fun and peaceful to watch others enjoy the beach.

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Doesn’t this look like a tourism poster?  The whole beach reminded me of the scene from Dr. No where Ursula Andress emerges from the sea singing “Underneath the Mango Tree.”  That day we had a Jamaican Ursula!

4 thoughts on “F is for Frenchman’s Cove

  1. I love the river there. We do stay at the hotel regularly – the rooms are nice and clean and it’s a wifi hot spot all over the property. Some of the villas are in bad shape, though, which is a shame. The bathrooms all need fixing up too, the plumbing is weird! But we love staying there, because it’s peaceful and the well-kept grounds around the beach are great for walks. It may not be perfect but it’s one of our “special” places. Plus it’s nice to walk down to the empty beach at 6 am and do some bird watching (it’s great for birds).

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s good to know. I certainly saw the potential of the place but the villas that I saw were literally falling apart so I judged the hotel by the same stick. Not sure if we’ll have time to make it up there again now, but glad we at least did the day trip.

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  2. Yes, it is a shame isn’t more preserved, though I don’t mind it being less developed as that brings a lot of the charm to Portland in general. As you probably have learned, public holidays in Jamaica = big beach crowds, it’s like an unwritten (i think) rule here. Love the natural beauty of Portland and Frenchman’s Cove, makes for a peaceful day.

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