Honestly, I hesitated to write this review at first. When you read it, you might want to go, and frankly we want this place to ourselves. Sigh…okay, then, if I must:
This is quite possibly the best beach I have ever been to, and I’ve been to a few. Your mileage may vary on that as it all depends on what you’re looking for in a beach, so let me set it up a bit for you and you can decide for yourself.
THE SET UP
My wife, Mary, and I came to Jamaica for my 50th birthday (our 15th and 12th trips to Jamaica, most of them together) and stayed at Great Huts (review here: http://goo.gl/sDjUj). The beach at Great Huts is different, and so for two days we packed our kit and came to Frenchman’s Cove for the day. Sure, it costs to get in unless you’re staying there ($700J or $8CDN/US pp), but turns out it was way worth it.
We took a Route Taxi from Great Huts to FC – Route Taxis are a lot of fun, btw: stand at the side of the road and wait for one to approach; if it beeps at you there’s room, and so you stick your hand out. There may already be 3 or 4 people in the taxi, but you stuff yourself in and off you go. Costs $120J pp for a 20 min ride to town, with people getting on and off along the way…that’s about $3 CDN or US total, you chat with some locals, it’s great…but back to our story. When we arrived at the gate and before we went in we saw a lovely man tending his horse at the side of the road near a sign that offered horseback riding. We went riding on day 2, and it was great, you should do it, riding in the water, through the trails, lots of fun.
The grounds of Frenchman’s Cove are huge (42 acres), there are villas throughout, a winding road past the main office and across a river (more on the river later…you’ll like it). As you approach the beach area prominent signs advise that this is not a topless beach. Too bad. Nevertheless, I went topless. I’m a rebel. ;^)
The beach itself is relatively small, set in a cove with stunning cliffs on either side. There are villas up on the cliffs, on the corners, overlooking the cove and the beach. Spec. Tacular. The sand is white, pristinely maintained, there are an abundance of chairs (you can rent beach lounges for $200J ($3) each, but we didn’t need to; when we arrived there was nobody else there and so we grabbed one of the two picnic tables with umbrellas, a couple of plastic chairs, and we were in like Flynn – Errol Flynn, actually, who spent quite a lot of time in Port Antonio…but I digress.
The outstanding feature of this beach, though, apart from white sand, cliffs, crystal water, etc., is the river that meets the ocean. On the left side as you come in, that river you crossed over earlier flows down into the ocean. The result is amazing on lots of levels: when you’re swimming in the ocean, you feel the eddies of warm ocean water and cooler river water playing all over your body; when you’re done in the ocean and want to cool off and clean off, swim over to the river: it gets cooler as you approach, the water becomes fresh, and suddenly you’re in a jungle river, complete with overgrowth, swimming with the fishes (but in a good way).
The river itself is smooth-bottomed, there’s a swing, some trees to climb and fall into the water from. Heaven.
There’s a nice little service area on the beach, servers will bring you drinks and food (jerk, fries, rice, etc.), the prices are very reasonable, and the smiles are plentiful. That’s not always the case, particularly at resorts, and so it was very pleasant. No complaints at all.
While we didn’t stay at the resort or in the villas, we did get a tour from the very helpful and friendly desk staff. I’ve read a bunch of reviews of the place that talk about the run-down nature of the villas, and I have to say that I didn’t see it. We toured several of the villas, they’re doing work on a bunch of them, and while they’re certainly dated, they appeared clean, well-maintained, and very nice. Particularly the locations: as mentioned earlier, a couple of the villas are right up on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. The views are incredible, and the setup is very nice: the 2BR villas are very practically arranged for two couples, or a couple and kids, or whatever.
THE BOTTOM LINE
We’re coming here to stay for a week. :^)
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