Explore Port Antonio's Hidden Beaches
Port Antonio's bigger beaches - Frenchman's Cove, Winnifred and Boston Bay - are well-travelled, stunning locales. But tracking down the off-the-beaten-path beaches, such as Shanshy Beach and Ras Johnson's Ranch, can be gratifying, providing you with serenity and exposure to the authentic Jamaica and its rustic charms.
TIP: Keep an eye out for spectacular views of Navy Island and Port Antonio's Harbour.
Shanshy Beach Complex lies to the west of Port Antonio, just outside of the entrance to the town. It is a popular spot among Port Antonio residents, and is sometimes used for local concerts and other events. The beach rests a few feet below the main road, but is hardly visible from above. Colourful concrete buildings line the back of the beach, including a bar, restaurant, changing area and bathrooms. Outside of the buildings, overgrown train tracks run through a grassy patch bordering the sand.
Beyond the old tracks, a few almond trees watch the white sand wrap around the cove. A fence divides the beach into two areas. The small patch to the west of the fence belongs to fishermen, whose little huts rest on the land while their brightly painted canoes float in the water. On the other side, clean white sand extends toward Port Antonio. The water off the beach is excellent for swimming, with a shallow and clear area that leads to a deep, dark blue bay.
TIP: While visiting the beach, make sure to have a chat with the owner, Ras Johnson. He's very welcoming to guests and eager to swap travel stories.
Ras Johnson's Ranch is located between Long Bay and Manchioneal. The short driveway reveals a grassy area and two round wooden shacks. One is a bar and restaurant, which serves I-tal and vegetarian food. The other thatched-roof building is a one-bedroom guesthouse, for more rugged travellers. A shallow stream, called the Christmas River, runs behind the huts, bordered by a steep hillside that is overrun with lush tropical vines. There's a small, but wide coarse sand beach that looks out across the coast. To one side, the town of Manchioneal scrambles along the shore. Dark waves roll with their short white heads onto the sand.
On busy days, both beaches are great places to hang out with a few Port Antonio locals and take in a bit of Jamaican culture. During the quiet times, they are scenic breaks from the traditional spots.