As for food, when travelling, the golden rule for beaches should be “go where the locals go” – usually where the best experiences are to be had. Hellshire Beach is one of those spots that isn’t quite “advertised” to foreigners as the white sandy beaches of Negril… and maybe that’s a good thing. The only reason that will get you there is your curiosity. Hellshire is the “local” beach in Portmore (about a 20/30 min drive from Kingston), and it’s at its finest on the weekend when it rumbles with energy and life. The entrance is marked by a Disney-ish castle-type arch (impossible to miss) and if you come by car, you’re likely to be approached by some guy who will help you find a parking spot conveniently located near his fish cookshop (don’t get angry- its all part of the experience!).
And yes, do not let the name fool you, Hellshire may be a beach, but for Kingstonians it is first and foremost a place to eat fish! Pounds of fresh fish are cooked up daily at one of the many cookshops and typically served with “festival” (a type of cornbread fritter) and “bammy” (cassava flatbread). This is the ultimate Jamaican “fish & chips” type experience- the flavours, the ingredients, and most of all, the unique atmosphere that makes Hellshire fish what it is.
If fish is not your reason for Hellshire, then you are still in for a treat- especially for the people watching fanatics (myself included). At any given time, there is some naturally orchestrated beautiful randomness going on, from sand digging, to young lovers making out by the shore, to horse back riding, to a football kicking away near the waves, to fresh coconut water sipping or jack fruit munching, to music blasting and artisan crafts selling, young ladies strutting their stylish outfits and OF COURSE the sporadic stray goat passing through. A must-see!
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