Jamaica is riddled with amusing place names. Hilarious place names in Jamaica include See-Me-No-More in Portland, Me-No-Send-You-No-Come in St. Elizabeth and Wait-A-Bit in Trelawny, but I also find it amusing (– and confusing) that they named two places Turtle Bay in the Manchioneal district of Portland. Portland is my favourite place in the whole of Jamaica.
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Portland is a northeastern parish which has been spared from the gigantic all-inclusive hotels and over-commercialization of our other resort towns. The parish has the majestic Blue Mountain Peak at 2256m above sea level, the tallest point in the island, as well as numerous rivers, streams, waterfalls, caves and gorgeous white sand beaches. A lot of the parish’s natural beauty remains untouched and ethereal, therefore it is always a delight to visit. This trip, I visited the two Turtle Bays of Manchioneal so read on for more details and pictures of these delightful destinations.
The first time I visited Manchioneal was in 2019 on a visit to Reach Falls. I drove from Kingston via St. Thomas in 2019 because this was the shorter route to east Portland. However, the state of the roads currently in 2021 make this route take at least an hour longer. Instead, I recommend driving via Junction in St. Mary to Portland if coming from Kingston. That makes for a shorter and less dusty drive.
The cliffs of Manchioneal are always a treat I admire while driving through east Portland, as well as the coastal views, sheltered bays, coconut trees and the gorgeous powdery soft white sand beaches. It’s one straight road to Manchioneal after exiting at the St. Mary roundabout.
Turtle Bay Cove
When in Manchioneal, look out for a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses branch on the left. Immediately after passing this church you will see a tiny unpaved road next to it, not much bigger than a car’s width but expected to function as a two lane road. There’s a sign visible from the main road which will let you know you’re taking the correct turn to Turtle Bay. Drive until the end of the road. You’ll encounter some houses and a grassy expanse. Park there and meet up with Pele who will guide you along the short path to the cove after paying the admission fee of JM$600 per visitor. The area is maintained by Pele, a resident of the community. You can reach him via telephone at (876) 880-1325 to book ahead of you’d like, but just showing up like we did is okay too. Pele has big plans for Turtle Bay Cove including putting the revenue from admission fees into development plans like restrooms and more seating. I was blown away by Turtle Bay. It doesn’t look like any other place I’ve seen in Jamaica.
My travel partner and I had this beautiful expanse to ourselves because we visited at about 11 am. Most day-trippers from Kingston wouldn’t arrive until about 1pm or later, and in fact, when we were leaving at 1pm, people started to trickle in. Pele kept us entertained with music from his sound system as we admired the mesmerizing crystal clear water and tiny colourful schools of curious fishes which scurried about our feet. There were dozens of tiny crabs milling about the craggy rocks, so take care not to get pinched. Pele keeps the water clean with some nets at the entrance to the cove that traps all debris and keeps large fish out, so the water in Turtle Bay Cove was a delight to swim in. Of note, the water level varies considerably during the day depending on the tide so take care. The water was no deeper than waist deep during my visit but gets up to 10 feet high during high tide. Also, Pele pointed out that this is the only place in Jamaica where the sea forms a waterfall. As the tide comes in and the waves crash over the rocks, it forms a temporary waterfall into Turtle Bay Cove– truly an interesting place.
Turtle Bay Beach
Heart full from Turtle Bay Cove, my travel companion and I left in search of Turtle Bay Beach which is located a few minutes away. When we got back to the main road from Turtle Bay Cove, we turned left in the direction of St. Thomas and followed the Google Maps marker of Turtle Bay. It wasn’t difficult to find at all but we had to ask a few persons for directions. After reaching Serendipity Beach Resort, look out for a tiny path next to a gully. Follow the short trail for about 3 minutes then you’ll encounter this gorgeous beach! Unlike the cove, Turtle Bay Beach is completely free! The beach is white sand but riddled with pebbles. We didn’t spend too long here but it’s a splendid beach.
I left a piece of my heart here and I’m not mad at that. Portland has my heart. It’s my favourite corner of Jamaica by a long shot, and there are still at least a dozen places in the parish on my Jamaican bucket list. Check out the other Portland destinations I’ve reviewed here and stay tuned to more anniversary posts this week as Elle turns FIVE! Thank you for supporting my content over the years, and I look forward to five more years together and beyond. Writing is my favourite escape and stress-reliever. I’ve been writing my whole life, and my alternative career to medicine would have been journalism. Blogging and travel have taken a back seat for a few months as I pursued career growth, but to put it simply, I’ve been miserable and this new venture has taught me important things about myself. I vow not to neglect this space in 2022. I have lots of exciting things in store! Watch this space.