Puerto Seco is a white sand beach located along Jamaica’s north coast in the historic town of Discovery Bay, St. Ann. Christopher Columbus is believed to have first landed in Jamaica on this beach with his three ships Santa Maria, Pinta and Niña in 1494. For this same reason, a park named after him lies just five minutes’ drive away. Recently leased and refurbished by the Guardsman Group security company, Puerto Seco is one of Jamaica’s most iconic beaches and was renovated to highlight that historic charm.
Puerto Seco is around 90 minutes from Kingston using the North-South highway, and it’s a very straightforward drive. The road is a completely straight after exiting the highway and you’ll know you’re nearby after passing the Grand Bahia Principe Resort on the right and Green Grotto Caves on the left. The entrance to the beach is on the right so slow and look out for it after passing these two landmarks. If you’re coming from the other direction, look out for it after passing Columbus Park and the entrance will be on your left.
They’re open every day from 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. and costs US20 for adults, US$10 for children ages 5–11 and children under 5 are free. Effective June 1, admission costs doubled to J$2,000 and J$1,000 for adults and children respectively, but this increased admission fee now includes using the deckchairs and Wibit® which one had to pay for separately prior. Patrons are not permitted to bring their own food or beverages onto the premises and yes, bags are searched. You’re also required to pay again once you leave the premises and go to, say, the car park for instance.
The beach is absolutely gorgeous and spans approximately 150 meters. It features deckchairs, umbrellas, cabanas, gazebos, restrooms, changing rooms, showers, a 150ft. long 5ft. deep pool if you get tired of the seawater eventually, a grill and full-service restaurant. That drink pictured below is a Bob Marley, usually a cocktail but this one was a slushie, and it turned out to be the perfect refreshment to an initially unbearably hot day. In terms of activities, there’s a large inflatable water park (Wibit®) comprising of slides, trampolines and several play areas which can accommodate 200 persons at a time. Mandatory life jackets are provided. Patrons can also enjoy glass bottom boat rides, snorkelling, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and paddle boating for US$10 up.
Soft, white, powdery and a delight to bare feet describes the sand at Puerto Seco. The summer sun was initially unbearable, so much so that leaving the shade of the gazebos in the pictures below for the water seemed unappealing. Eventually some cumulus clouds rolled in which got heavier and darker as the afternoon progressed, but the rains stayed away. The water was lovely, the waves were gentle and soothing and the seaweed was minimal. The water was clear enough that one could admire the beautiful schools of colorful fishes that braved swimming close to shore.
Puerto Seco is beautiful but what elevated the experience for me was the WiBit. Located in deep water, life jackets are mandatory and makes the inflatable water park friendly to all swimming levels. There are all sorts of challenges and obstacle courses on it that tested your balance, ingenuity and even physical strength. A plop here and a splash there happened to even the best of them, but was met with only laughter and great camaraderie. Lifeguards were omnipresent with watchful eyes and ready to assist if necessary too.
After showering away the salty water, a dip in the pool was welcome. Sometimes it’s great to swim without salt stinging your eyes and mucous membranes, although salt was traded for chlorine which can be an irritant too.
All in all, the four or so hours I spent here were great. What set Puerto Seco Beach apart for me was the Wibit– it was challenging but memorable and loads of fun! However, I do resent paying this much for a beach. The most I’d ever spent on a beach before was J$800 at Frenchman’s Cove and even then I’d been grumbling. That being said, Puerto Seco is certainly a great experience and I rate it five stars, ☆☆☆☆☆–it’s just the price keeps it elusive from the average Jamaican family and so it wouldn’t get the highest of recommendations from me as a budget travel blogger. Another pet peeve of mine too was the dolphin enclosures. That space is certainly too small for mammals of that size and captivity is torture for such intelligent creatures. I’d love to see them do away with this part of the “attraction” and as patrons, we have to play our part by boycotting these dolphin experiences so they lose their lucrativeness.
Visiting Discovery Bay, St. Ann and want an itinerary? Check out:
- The Green Grotto Caves, an eco-friendly spelunking opportunity with a 45-minute tour sharing the history and beauty of the caves,
- Puerto Seco Beach, a tropical beach park with lots of water activities and state-of-the-art amenities, and
- Columbus Park, an open-air self-guided museum tour with a look at yesteryear.
‘Til next time. ✌🏽