During my time in Jamaica in March of 2013, I spent the first part of my trip in Kingston at my friend’s home.
“When are we gonna go roast on a beach?” I would ask her, and she’d tell me to wait until we got to Ocho Rios (or just “Ochi”), which was located on the other side of the island (and where most tourists tend to go).
However, she did think of a beach about half an hour away from Kingston called Hellshire Beach, but that “most people just go for the food since the beach isn’t exactly our nicest”. I was disappointed about the latter part of that statement, but the minute she mentioned cheap and delicious lobster, I was in.
Hellshire was right outside of Portmore, a parish of St. Catherine (Kingston is in St. Andrew). It’s common knowledge to Kingstonians that Hellshire serves the best fish and festival (fried cornmeal dough).
However, I was not preparing for how pretty the beach actually was. Having been spoiled with beautiful beaches growing up in Jamaica, my friend had set me up to expect a muddy-watered, smelly coast (to the Texans out there…à la Galveston…pictured below).
Many of the restaurants along the beach were essentially makeshift stalls that the fishermen built themselves. There were retired race horses pacing up and down the sand that people could pay to ride.
Now, my favorite part- the seafood. We sat in one of the stalls stationed near the middle (hidden from the sun) and ordered fried fish, fresh lobster, and festival with some Ting (Jamaican grapefruit soda aka nectar of the gods) to wash it all down.
After experiencing this tasty local treasure, it is tempting to return to Jamaica just for their brand of fresh seafood again. I can see why many local people often visit Hellshire as a weekend afternoon getaway.