Hellshire Beach Jamaica is a cultural treasure in St. Catherine, the parish bordering Kingston and St. Andrew.
It’s about 20 minutes outside the city of Kingston and loved by locals. You won’t find many tourists here. What you’ll find is an abundance of culture in this fishing village that unfortunately is suffering from a receding shoreline.
I have many fond memories of going to Hellshire Beach as a child with my mom and my extended family. It was always a stop on the itinerary whenever family from abroad visited us here.
Back then, the beach was large and offered up lots of space for swimming. Some of my
This picture is of Hellshire Beach in 2015. At this point, you could still walk the shoreline, though probably not without getting wet.
Since then, the structures in the center of the strip of beach at the front of Hellshire have suffered the most.
The water now comes right up to structures built and a few of them have since built what could be called balconies and seating areas over the sea.
Despite the loss of shoreline, it’s still a thriving fishing village with arguably some of the best fried fish and festival anywhere on the island. It’s a joy of mine to head there early in the morning for this meal as breakfast or in the dead of night.
Since the village never sleeps, you can pull up at any time, enjoy the music and the vibe and grab a meal. Many a drunken after-party meal has been had here by my friends and I as we await the sun to rise.
Fish, Festival and Bammy at Hellshire Beach
Festival is a sweet fried dough similar to a Johnny Cake or what we called fried dumpling here in Jamaica. Bammy is a fried or steamed bread-like side that’s made with cassava. I love both these sides with my fried fish. It is a must try when you’re here. Be sure to dip it in the escoveitch sauce.
Hellshire Beach Jamaica
On this particular visit to Hellshire, I went with munchkin just to hang out and kill a Saturday afternoon. It was a beautiful evening and the perfect time to escape to the beach instead of having her on her electronic devices cooped up in a house all day.
We decided to stick to the side of the beach this time around. This is by Screechies. There’s a little opening here that you can swim as well if you want to stay here rather than be around the front with the larger beach area.
The weather was gorgeous. It was the perfect day for the beach and I am always ready for fish from Hellshire. The interesting characters that pass you by will make for a fun adventure whether you’re by yourself or out with a group.
On Hellshire Beach you can get everything to buy.
I cackled when I visited Boca Chica beach in the Dominican Republic and they had a similar hustling on the beach vibe. I realized that this type of selling on the beach, though annoying sometimes, isn’t unique to Jamaica and relaxed my attitude. Next time I’ll stay in one of the better resorts in the Dominican Republic to see if they access the beaches there too.
You can also get an excellent supply of oysters, lobster and crabs. My friend has promised to take me there for what he called chicken lobster. I promise to update this post whenever we go because I’m just as curious as you.
I did see some very fat looking lobsters being sold on one of the occasions I visited so I guess… Am I ready?
Here’s my friend beckoning to me to come get a horseback ride through the beach. Cut off the the left of the photo you can see a clown about to enter the frame.
He will hand your kid an animal balloon and expect you to pay for it so be prepared. He’s not very entertaining outside of that. Or maybe it’s because I refused the balloon.
I do love coming here whether with friends, just munchkin and I or even just by myself just to people watch, be close to nature and eat some good food. My quick little snack on this day.
That’s the escoveitch sauce I mentioned earlier in the bowl in the centre. It’s a spicy vinegar sauce with onions and carrots in it. Spoon it over your fish, festival and bammy…yum!
Order a white rum and a Ting (grapefruit soda) to wash down your meal and you’ve just enjoyed a Jamaican favourite.
Tips for Visiting Hellshire Beach
There’s no cost to enter Hellshire beach. It’s a fishing village and many of the fisherfolk and their families live on site. That means there’s an abundance of vendors on the property all trying to make a living.
Several guys will run up to your vehicle as you get closer to the parking area. They’re trying to get you to visit their restaurant over another and they can be pretty aggressive. Either pick one to go with or be firm and let them know that you already know where you’re going.
I recommend Aunt Merl’s and Aunt May’s that are front and centre when you get on property. They are next to Prendy’s on the Beach which is one of the most known fish spots at Hellshire, which means it can be a little loud, a little packed and a little pricey.
I’m also a fan of Screechies though he too can be a little pricey. I just like going over to the side where there’s usually less crowd.
It’s also free to park in the open spaces. Some people will try to get tips from you to help you to park. I did notice one space with a sign that says you can pay to park there. I’m not sure how legal that is and unless it’s super packed that day, I ain’t paying to park. Stick to the open spaces either straight ahead when you enter or to the left of the entrance where the side beach and Screechies is.
Walk with your toiletries. There’s a newly constructed restroom area to the front near the gate but that’s quite a trek from any of the restaurants. You can ask your server to use the toilets and some of them will take you to a space that’s questionable at best. Very few of the fish huts have their own restroom facilities available.
Depending on the time of day that you go, music will be blaring from speakers and there might be an actual beach party set-up. Enjoy!
Hellshire Beach is generally very safe to visit at any time of day or night. No one will trouble you but be about your wits because everyone is trying to make a buck.
If you’re a visitor and well…you’re… a bit obvious…. I’d stick to Fort Clarence Beach. It’s a much tamer experience if you’re wanting a Jamaican beach full of culture with a little less potential for harassment.
Til next time, this is Jamaican Dawta a tell you fi walk good pon di trod!