Frenchman’s Cove, Jamaica.

Located on the northeast coast, in the parish of Portland, this beautiful off- the-beaten- track spot has a sleepy charm where you will find the real Jamaica.

International Spotlight: Jamaica

Frenchman’s Cove, Jamaica. The name is evocative of the 1960’s, once the playground of jet-setters including Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlton Heston, and The Beatles, all who frequented this Caribbean destination.

Located on the northeast coast, in the parish of Portland, this beautiful off- the-beaten- track spot has a sleepy charm where you will find the real Jamaica. Gracious friendly people, a pristine beach, and villas (all surrounded by lush vegetation) perched overlooking the turquoise ocean.

For those looking for an all-inclusive resort vacation, look elsewhere. Frenchman’s Cove, has something different for the traveler who is looking to escape: comfortably furnished spacious villas with breathtaking views and daily maid service. A crystal clear stream winds down to a private beach and bar (where jerked fish or chicken are available for lunch served by staff). You can count on a “grass roots” vacation with very little intrusion from the outside world: no phones, international newspapers or TV’s.

Frenchman’s Cove is a 3 hour drive from Kingston. At your request, they will arrange for a car to pick you up and take you back through the hills (think hairpin turns and lush scenery) or along the coast (in the dry season the rocky riverbeds are roads, and in the rainy season, they are rivers!). The reliable service is worth the $120 USD.

True to the best design of the era, the villas have a spacious, open feel to them. Built in the early ’60s, the villa walls are hand-cut Jamaican hill limestone, the wood ceilings and trim, Honduran cedar. With the many floor to ceiling windows and sliding glass doors, tropical greenery appears to spill inside.

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View the Frenchman’s Photo Gallery

Helpful reception staff will assist in arrangements with booking tours, chartering taxis, dinner reservations, bike rentals from Pro Bike, and any other questions. Internet access is available at reception upon request.

Book a massage on your balcony, rent a mountain bike and ride the pot-holed roads to neighboring beaches such as Winnifred – where local Jamaicans ‘cook up’ stewed conch, fried chicken, and corn soup or take a lazy rafting trip down the Rio Grande – a river waterway that is navigated by a rafts-man poling a 30 foot, two-person, bamboo raft along the twisting river. Wherever you go, be prepared to negotiate. With a few exceptions, hunting for a bargain is part of the Jamaican experience.

A daily continental breakfast is included and served in the Great House, a short walk from most villas. Sip coffee in the open dining area while watching blackbirds beg for crumbs. Each villa is equipped with a small kitchenette – cooking is not permitted.

Lunch can be had at many of the local roadside establishments. By far the best is Woody’s – a colourful bar with an open style restaurant. Proprietors Woody and Cherry are warm outgoing hosts. Cherry hand trims and grinds lean Jamaican beef for the best cheeseburgers and fries in the Caribbean – wonderful 3 course Jamaican dinners are also available with advance order – complete with coconut cake and rum raisin ice cream. Try the zesty homemade ginger beer, or the knockout rum punch. If you are lucky, Woody will play you his latest reggae CD and sing accompaniment.

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View the Frenchman’s Photo Gallery

There are more choices for dinner – at the elegant Trident Villa and Hotel, Fern Hill Club, or the new Marina in Port Antonio. Dickies, a crazy ramshackle restaurant built hanging off the side of a cliff on the other side of Port Antonio also offers a variety of Jamaican and North American style dishes.

Taxi drivers can be hired on charter – and will ferry you on call, to and from your destinations. Expect to pay North American prices. Day and night other local taxi drivers run up and down the main road, picking up and dropping passengers. It’s a perfect ‘A’ to ‘B’ solution. It will cost anywhere from $1-$3 Canadian dollars depending on the length of the trip and is the way locals travel. Mountain bikes can be rented for jaunts to one of the several local beaches or for a challenging ride up to the village of Nonsuch. The roads are massively pot-holed but for the most part, wind gently. This may not be a wise choice for inexperienced bikers to travel- as the car traffic on these roads moves quickly.

Nightlife is virtually non-existent in Frenchmen’s Cove. Every Friday and Saturday night the town of Port Antonio bursts with locals parading their finery. Reggae music blasts from shop doorways and giant speakers. The Roof Club, a nightclub that starts happening after 1am draws a young crowd ready to dance until dawn. If you’re looking for something quieter, why not chill down a Heineken or pour a rum cream over ice – relax on your balcony and enjoy the night sky and soft ocean sounds. Tomorrow will be another idyllic day full of sunshine, friendly people and the beautiful Frenchman’s Cove beach.

For more information, visit

– Anne Wetheral

check out Frenchmen’s Cove photos > 

A gorgeous view of the water from the hotel property.

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An exterior shot of the ’60s style villas.

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A retro feel in the relaxing villas.

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Breathtaking views are plentiful from each villa.

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Welcome to Woodys, a local popular eatery.

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The locals are friendly and helpful.

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