I figured it was time I feature a stereotypical Jamaican chill spot having written about waterfalls, museums, a botanical garden, mountain and mineral spring. You guessed correctly: a BEACH! 🌴 In keeping with A.f.Elle budget-friendly style, I chose an unpopular one: the Wickie Wackie beach in Bull Bay.
Bull Bay is a suburban town on the border of the Saint Andrew and Saint Thomas parishes. It lies beside its lesser-known sister, Cow Bay. Both place names reflect their former purpose of cattle-rearing predominantly for leather during Spanish colonial rule of Jamaica before British conquest in 1655. This beach only comes up in conversation when it is the venue of a party or concert such as the annual Wickie Wackie Music Festival. I wanted to see what it looks like when it isn’t pulsating to the riddims of the latest fete.
Starting from Half-Way-Tree (HWT), parish capital of Saint Andrew, we boarded a JUTC bus (state-run public buses) en route to Downtown, Kingston from the HWT transport centre. We came off at Parade, an area surrounding the Sir William Grant Park where most buses in Downtown load. Circling this park takes you to North Parade from which we took a Bull Bay JUTC bus, route 97. Total travel time from HWT to our stop in Bull Bay took about 90 minutes, inclusive of waiting time. We came off opposite to Little Copa Club and Restaurant. However, we unintentionally gave ourselves unnecessary walking. 😅 There is a closer stop so it’s safe to say press the buzzer after passing Little Copa on the right– not alight at Copa.
Secondly, note the original aim: Wickie Wackie Beach. What we got instead by choosing that stop: Carib Beach as shown by Google Maps. Both beaches are adjacent and honestly, it’s one coast line anyway. Both are public beaches (i.e. free) and we found no clear line of demarcation separating the two. I’m almost certain we crossed that “invisible line” and visited both beaches with our wandering feet.
Slightly missing our beach target was a blessing in disguise. We wound up at a surfing school-turned-hostel by the name of Jamnesia, run by an affable Rastafarian family. Public beaches in Jamaica are a dwindling kind and finding clean bathrooms and changing facilities at them is elusive. In other words, you have to pay for such “privileges.” Thus, if we didn’t find Jamnesia, we likely wouldn’t have accessed such facilities. They allowed us to use them for free. This beach strip is found along Sugar Loaf Bay and presents a good surfing spot. Showing up on a day when waves were ‘flat’ denied us such opportunity, not that I was intent on learning how to surf before nailing swimming 😂. Surfboards and instructors are available but sadly I never obtained the price.
It is undeniable that Jamaica has far better beaches but if you want a safe, free and secluded beach for a few hours, this is it! Impetuous waves break against a brown-sanded rocky coastline with fiery sun blazing overhead. Only the saltwater and occasional shady tree offered respite. Beaches are beautiful with that seemingly endless horizon and 50 shades of blue as sea meets sky. However, saline and unshaded sun reminded me of why beaches are lower on my list of outdoor attractions. Cool fresh-water rivers and waterfalls have spoiled me rotten and I don’t mind. That aside, I had myself a wonderful peaceful day strolling along the shore and swimming. The water was very pristine, if not the sand.
Leaving by bus was easy, as coasters (smaller public buses) run all the time between Bull Bay and Downtown at the same price as JUTC buses, JM$100/person. We got one in under 5 minutes. If you wait on a JUTC bus, expect an unpredictable waiting time ranging from several minutes to an hour.
I’d recommend going with a friend like I did, unless the goal was for solo time and meditation which seems safe enough to do here. Carry sunscreen and adequate water as it is easy to become dehydrated fast. Also, do consider wearing your swimsuit. It was our stroke of luck to find good amenities, but on a public beach in Jamaica it’s possible you won’t find any.
I had a wonderful time, likely due to the company I had who enjoys unfrequented spots as much as I do. However, I won’t romanticize the attraction. The lack of amenities, occasional plastic bottle litter on the sand and the ubiquitous stones (albeit smooth) earn it 3 stars, ☆☆☆ from my book.
‘Til next time ✌