Winnifred Beach: Where Jamaica’s Locals Go

You can lounge on plenty of beaches in Jamaica, but few are as friendly and full of character as laid-back Winnifred Beach in the Portland Parish between the Blue Lagoon and Boston Bay near the town of Fairy Hill. It’s tended by local vendors who make their living selling food, cool drinks and crafts.

Jamaica’s Winnifred Beach was a film location for “Club Paradise” starring Robin Williams.

Beach vendors aren’t aggressive here—they pretty much let you come to them. And they don’t pressure you to buy anything—but it’s nice to spend some money here because this beach is a community effort.

It can be tricky finding Winnifred Beach: there are no signs for it on the main A-4 road, and the dirt lanes leading to it are full of treacherous potholes. However, local taxi drivers will know how to get there and are probably familiar with every bump along the way.

Charcoal braziers at Cynthia’s restaurant. Fresh-cooked Caribbean spiny lobster was just one menu item.

Once you arrive, the fun begins. Hidden in a deep cove, Winnifred Beach has mild waves, making it an excellent family beach—lots of local kids and parents were playing and relaxing on the Sunday I visited. Trees grow nearly down to the water, so there’s plenty of shade; if you like to snorkel, there’s a reef just off shore.

Meet the Locals

Cynthia Miller and Painter Richard run a fantastic outdoor restaurant (called “Lick ’em Finger) on Winnifred Beach where I feasted on grilled chicken, fried sweet potato, festival bread (just slightly sweet), rice and beans, and salad.

If you can peek into the kitchen, you can watch the Cynthia and Painter (and other cook helpers) tend a number of charcoal braziers—each at a different stage of heat at once. The smoky flavor permeates the meats and side dishes served in the delicious home-cooked meals.

I also struck up a conversation with I-Cliff, a Rastafarian with long dreadlocks who talked about being a vegetarian and living a pure life—including not eating junk food or additives.

I-Cliff, a calabash artist, enjoys a chat in the shade.

I-Cliff makes herbal medicines and claims he’s invented a gizmo to extract juice from sugarcane. I-Cliff carves bamboo and calabash-gourd bowls, selling his handiwork on the beach.

Keep Winnifred Beach Local and Sustainable

There’s a big local effort to preserve this beach from privatization, which would mean that locals and visitors wouldn’t be able to use the beach. It would be a tragedy if this community spot were fenced off or developed for hotel or condo use. The folks here have held concerts to raise money for beach and road improvements and to pay lawyers for a court struggle. Good citizens like restaurateur Cynthia Miller lead the effort.

So, if you’re in Jamaica’s Portland region, visit Winnifred Beach for an authentic Jamaica vibe. Yeah mon!

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor

Read more about my travels in Jamaica:

Cynthia Miller fries up the some sweet potatoes at her restaurant on Winnifred Beach.

 

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