About a mile before you reach Portland’s famous Boston Jerk, there’s a small sign saying ‘Winnifred Beach‘ in Fairy Hill. Blink and you could almost miss it. Follow the long dusty, unpaved road, lined with tropical foliage down to a sheltered bay and you’ve just discovered one of the best (if not the best) public beaches in Jamaica.
Forgot your sarong? Don’t worry you’ll be able to pick one up from one of the sellers here. And maybe a shell bracelet or two. Food stalls selling fresh fish line the white sands and the smell of jerk fills the air. A few shirtless local men are playing football in the small field by the beach. The sound of laughter and a reggae beat, courtesy of the sound system guy, float on the breeze as a man walks by sipping an ice-cold jelly.
The whole scene is so picturesque it could be TV advert for the Bounty chocolate bar. I haven’t even got as far as the sea, when I walk past a stall, where the smell of conch soup simmering away greets me. Even better there isn’t a single queue!
When I first moved to Jamaica, friends raved about Frenchman’s (just a five-minute drive away) but in all honesty, I’ve never quite understood the reason behind its popularity. Winnifred Beach is so much more…unique in every way. It’s authentic Jamaican, there’s no hustle, just a really chilled out, tropical vibe going on.
Anyway, that soup, I can’t contain my hunger any longer and order an extra-large cup of it. Maybe it’s because I’m hungry after such a long drive but this is the best conch soup I’ve ever tasted. It is filled with slithers of conch, vegetables and spinners. It’s so good I take an extra one to go – which gets decanted into my water bottle. After that all that’s left to do is soak up the tropical vibes from the shade of a sea-grape tree and take things easy, Winnifred style.
Look for the little sign on the left as you pass through Fairy Hill. Follow the broken road to a small grassy parking area, where cars can be parked. From there, a 4×4 will make it all the way down to the beach by following the track on the right.