Jamaica has 795km (494 miles) of shoreline of which approximately
30% is characterized as sandy beach suitable for recreational
use. About 4500m of the shoreline are designated as public
beaches and another 2880m are used in association with hotels,
guest houses and similar types of accommodation.
Vast stretches of white sand beach provide the location for
the principal resort areas, including Negril, Montego Bay
and Ocho Rios. These white sand beaches originate from the
offshore coral reefs as a result of the deposit of eroded
material from the coral. Many of the south coast beaches are
nourished by river sediments (as the offshore coral reefs
are not as extensive) and are typically of black sand.
With increased tourist and residential development along
the coastal strip and the demand for exclusive use, fewer
good beaches are being left available for public use.
At present, there are eighty five (85) beaches used by the
public for bathing, of which twelve (12) are commercial recreational
1). There are some fifty-eight (58) bathing beaches
associated with hotels (Map
2), and one hundred and twenty one (121) fishing beaches
A large number of hotel beaches are located on the north
coast. These beaches are generally of a high standard. The
majority of these beaches are available to the general public
on a fee basis, for patronage of the hotels' facilities, and
some on payment of a club fee.
Fishing beaches are relatively evenly distributed along the
coast. The largest beaches are Old Harbour Bay, Hunts Bay,
Greenwich Town, Rocky Point, Alligator Pond, the Rae Town
Fishing Complex, Whitehouse and Port Morant. All these beaches
are situated on the south coast.
Ideally, facilities for a fully functional fishing beach
should include gear sheds, individual lockers, toilets, water
supply, a petrol pump, electricity, fish cleaning troughs,
repair shop, cooperative store and offices, vendors' stalls
The facilities at the majority of fishing beaches, however,
are either in poor physical condition or inadequate for the
fishermen. In some cases, fishermen do not have the authority
to regulate activities on the beach where they operate, and
so there are persons who squat and sometimes carry on other
illegal activities at fishing beaches.
A survey was recently undertaken by the NRCA to assess the
status of all public bathing beaches located around the island.
The findings were as follows: