Frenchman’s Cove, Portland

frenchmans cove-port antonio

Frenchman’s Cove in Port Antonio, Jamaica

Indisputably one of the best beaches in Jamaica, Frenchman’s Cove in Port Antonio is an estuary which gives one the opportunity of swimming in fresh and salt water at the same beach. The beach receives its name from a fiery battle between the British and French near the Cove centuries ago after which the defeated French soldiers sought refuge there. Fast forward to the early 1900s when Jamaica’s tourism was born in Port Antonio. Lorenzo Dow Baker, the father of banana export in Jamaica, began carrying tourists on his banana steamships who were eager to see this tropical paradise and get a break from the cold climes of the north. Billionaire Garfield Weston was one such visitor who became enamoured with Porty’s idyllic charm, inspiring him to purchase the cove and build what became the Caribbean’s first all-inclusive resort. In its heyday, Frenchman’s Cove hosted many distinguished guests including Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Taylor, The Beatles, Ian Fleming and Errol Flynn. Badly damaged by 1988 Hurricane Gilbert then restored by Grainger Weston, Frenchman’s Cove is no longer a resort for only the ‘very, very rich’ as it was once described by Vanity Fair. It now hosts weddings, yoga retreats and families from all over the globe but the beach itself is open year-round to the general public and non-guests.

Getting There

Public transport from Kingston involves taking a Port Antonio coaster bus which costs JM$450 per person. You may hear the conductors (men who load the buses) calling out ‘Porty’ instead which is just an affectionate abbreviation of the town’s name. Enjoy the scenic ride through the hills of St. Andrew, St. Mary then finally through the coastal villages of Portland until the last bus stop in the heart of Port Antonio. From there, take a route taxi for JM$150 per person heading to Frenchman’s Cove. Estimate 3 hours for total commute time. Private transport is a similar route, albeit shorter since there are zero stops along the way unless of course you choose to make one. I forgot to take a picture of the beach’s sign but it’s impossible to miss from the main road. Parking spaces are few but roadside parking just outside the resort is permitted.

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Rain clouds. 🤤 These drifted in fast!

Beach passes are sold at the security post by the entrance gates. Admission to the beach costs JM$800 with a valid local ID and US$10 without. Children under age 12 pay half-price. Weekdays are best for getting the beach to yourself. If you visit on a weekend like I did, you’ll have lots of company but it doesn’t get quite as crowded as a Negril or north coast beach would. In terms of facilities, bathrooms which double as changing rooms, showers, deckchairs, tables, a lifeguard post, restaurant and locker rentals are available. To me, their bathrooms could use a lot of work– they were tiny, cramped, slippery and a little dated. Also, I didn’t like the absence of signs. We basically had to figure out where the changing rooms and everything else were on our own.

Nonetheless, did that dampen the experience? A resounding no!

The Lovely Grounds

sandy beach-frenchmans covefrenchmans cove5

I see why this place was once the stomping ground of only the very very rich. The lazy serpentine river was crystal clear and the perfect shade of aquamarine. The foliage was beautiful and statesque, towering high over the water to filter out bright sunlight and cast a cool calming glow over everything. The sand was soft and powdery-white with the ebb and flow of a gentle sea lipping against it to create the perfect picture. I felt at peace and so happy to be here. The crowds of visiting on the last weekend for summer 2018 did not spoil the serenity of the location for me in the least.

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As Portland is famous for, the heavens eventually opened and pelted its visitors with a heavy shower but no one looked too disturbed by that. Many chose to stay in the water, depend on tree cover for shelter (like myself) or run to the scanty shelter of nearby buildings. As suddenly as the rain began it subsided and we went back to having a great time out by the sea and in the river. Let me warn you– river water cold is no joke. I much preferred the sea’s warmth but when you swim at the mouth of a river, expect temperature fluctuations. One minute it’s warm, the next you’re shivering. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but still, brrr!

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Did you really go to Frenchman’s Cove if you didn’t take photos on at least one of its three famed swings? You will have to wait for one to become free but as it does, grab it and create memories (and Instagram worthy photographs, no filter).

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Wrap Up

grateful for another year

I hope in a decade’s time I’ll still admit my age this freely.

Last year I had this lovely beach on my bucket list of places to visit but no such luck. Thus, I was most happy to ring in my 23rd birthday here with friends and even better, the weekend right after completing some difficult exams. It went down as one of my favourite ever road trips (cue Snoop Dogg’s and Wiz Khalifa’s Young, Wild & Free). Also, it was a great way to reconnect with my best friend who had been away for a while and who also beautifully recorded her year of teaching English in Colombia here. I give God thanks for another year of life, for all His blessings and the privileges He allows me to enjoy. Twenty-two was good to me and I think twenty-three will be even better. It will be a year of many transitions but I look forward to what it will bring for my life.

Anyway, enough about me. I rate this charming beach five stars, ☆☆☆☆☆. While paying for the beach is something I resent, I guess every now  and again one has to make exception right? Frenchman’s was worth the exception.

‘Til next time. ✌


I’m taking tips on where to visit next in Portland! 🤗 I’ve only been to this stunning parish thrice so there’s lots more left to see and do.


Frenchman's pinnable graphic


28 thoughts on “Frenchman’s Cove, Portland

  1. Pingback: Elle’s Favourite 10 Places in Jamaica 🇯🇲 | Adventures from Elle

  2. Frenchman’s Cove is one of our favorite beaches until now. But all in all we aren’t beach people. For us, lying on the beach means missing something else… and we can’t keep quiet our butts for long. 😀 A tip what you could visit next in Portland? Here it is: Reach Falls. we were there, if the official site was closed and had to go with a local, what was a really nice experience. Good travels…

    Liked by 2 people

      • No you didn’t. I only know of Gordon Town and MoBay. Girlllll you a travella!!!! Although it probably wasn’t for all the right reasons and you were too young to solo travel anyway. But I could see adult you maximizing this.

        The only thing which made me spend probably just as long in the sea as the river was the sea’s warmth. Riva wata cowwllll yuh fret especially after that rain 😭😭😭, but that’s where my friends and I had our “photoshoot” by the swings. 😅


      • Oh I moved around a lot as a child. My biological father couldn’t keep his dick in his pants, so we were always escaping his scandal, while he told us he was moving for “better opportunities”. Better opportunities for more front, more like! I’ve lived in six parishes, Kingston & St. Andrew (I count taste 2), Portland, Westmoreland, Hanover, and Saint James. Adult me maximised it in the sense that I’m used to moving around a lot and continued to do so as an adult. I’m pretty sure it fuelled my travel lust.

        Hahaha, listen to this nasty girl though! That water can’t be colder than the rivers up in Strawberry Hills side, topside Gordon Town. We use to chill wine and cheese in there! 😂


      • You nuh bodda wid it! Portland river after rain not any better 😑. While shivering my daylights out before adjusting, I was thinking to myself what a shame it would be to die of hypothermia in a tropical country. (Don’t come at me 🤣)

        And aww, sorry to hear Alex. Ahh Jamaican men. 😦 Glad you can see the good in it retrospectively. I agree! The wanderlust must’ve come from somewhere


      • LMFAO! Dying of hypothermia in Jamaica would make history! 😅😂 I don’t remember Portland being super cold, but I remember it being rainy. It rained every day in that place!

        My stepdad has long replace him, so he’s not missed! And….his foolishness meant I got to be out on my by 16 and that was pretty awesome.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Rochelle for another awesome post. Your writing about your excursions puts me in the mood to be there. Coincidentally, I am from Jamaica but haven’t been to many of the places you’ve mentioned since I don’t live on full-time on the island. However, for the past four years on my summer vacations, I’ve been arranging a “beach trip” with family from my district in Manchester as we are located inland with no immediate or direct access to any bodies of water. So far our trips (normally consists of two coaster busses) have gone to Treasure Beach in St. Elizabeth, Bluefields Beach in Westmoreland, Dunns River Falls in Ocho Rios, St. Ann and this year we have the pleasure of visiting James Bond Beach in Oracabessa, St. Mary.

    Your blog has inspired me to begin documenting our journey to these beautiful places on our little island. Frenchman’s cove has been our list of places to visit but unfortunately, since we cannot take our own food onto the premises. Because we go on these trips with upwards of 50+ people, we like to bring along our own taste of home for everyone to enjoy without the high costs of eating at these “touristy” locations.
    My next trip to Jamaica is in December with no beach trips planned but will be undertaking an expedition to go to “crab hole” (hunting for crabs). Will definitely document my experience with a blog post. Until then…walk good.

    PS. On your excursions, it would be quite helpful for readers like myself to know about beaches where outside food is allowed and areas where we could have a picnic or simply sit and eat.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for commenting! Really appreciate it and I enjoyed learning of how you allow your family to experience coastal Jamaica despite living pretty inland. It’s a pretty awesome opportunity for bonding too! I’d love if my family could do something similar one day, although most of them live overseas so that would require a lot of good timing and planning on our part.

      I look forward to reading about your adventures! Documenting them is not only potentially helpful to other readers, but really nice in capturing the whole experience for your memories. It’s awesome to not just have pictures but also text to remind you of all the little details you’re likely to forget several months down the line.

      Re documenting which beaches allow food, thanks for the suggestion! I’ll update my older posts for the places I remember which allowed or didn’t allow food as well as bear this in mind for future posts. 🙂


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