Caribbean Sea
LAST UPDATED 27/08/2008
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Level of surfing


Quality of surf


Call code


Net code





1,022 km


Tropical; hot, humid; temperate interior


Cyclones, Coup / Civil Unrest

Best Months

October - December




Jamaican Dollar (JMD) Jamaican dollars per US dollar - 65.768 (2006)

Time Zone


Special Requirements

Private Beaches


Rei-artur: Location Jamaica; 26 December 2006

The island of Jamaica covers an area of 10,991 km2 and lies about 885 kms south of Miami (United States of America) and 145 kms south of Cuba. It is the largest of the English-speaking Commonwealth Caribbean Islands, and the third-largest island in the region. The island is divided into 14 parishes and there are two major urban centers—Kingston on the southeast coast and Montego Bay on the northwest coast.


Pork305: Jamaican Beach; 15 December 2007

Pre-Colombian Jamaica (Columbus arrived in 1494) was inhabited by Arawaks, living in simple communities based on fishing, hunting, and small scale cultivation of cassava. The impact of the contact with the Spanish was traumatic, and these communities disappeared in 70-80 years.

The Spanish Occupation has lasted from 1494 to 1655 and the population of the Spanish settlement (including their slaves) was never large. The Spanish coudn't find any gold on the island and used Jamaica as a base for supporting the conquest of the Americas, particularly Mexico (rich in gold and silver).

In 1655, it was captured by the British expedition led by Admirals Penn and Venables, very little was done to defend the island against the British who started the massive use of imported African slave labour. During the first 200 years of the rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading sugar exporting nations and produced over 77,000 tons of sugar annually between 1820 and 1824.

After a series of rebellions, slavery was formally abolished in 1834, with full emancipation from chattel slavery declared in 1838. Since that time Jamaica started slowly gaining increasing independence from the United Kingdom. First, it became a province in the Federation of the West Indies, a federation among all of the British West Indies. Finally Jamaica attained full independence by leaving the federation in 1962.

In the sixties, when young teenaged rebels were riding the waves of Malibu, Narabeen and Waikiki making surf history, Jamaica also had it's own brave young souls who were riding Boston and Wreck on home made boards fashioned from refrigerator foam laminated with resin and fiber glass drapery cloth with black electrical tape to make "racing stripes" manufactured up on Skyline drive at Wesley Powell's home (Excelsior Principal) where  the young shapers almost poisoned themselves with resin and acetone fumes. The young rebels included Cecil Ward, Steve Solomon, Dennis Pigott, Leighton "Pin Head' Powell, Tim "Apache" Chinyee, The Martel brothers from U.S.A., Gordon Cooper, Donnie Soutar,  David "Puss" Langdon, Jack and Charley Murray, Nigel Andrade, Terrence "Mush" Muschette,   Robbie Epstein, Tony "Tugu" Lancaster, Herbie Sharp, Robin Samms, David Couch, Alfred "Junior" Kong, who had "Royal Store" in Port Antonio, Eddie Chin from CC Bakery where every local surfer would stop by after a long day at Boston for some hot hard dough bread and butter or a bun and cheese and box milk and the late Paul Blades, who's tomb stone at the Stony Hill Cemetery is shaped like a surfboard and has an inscription which reads...."He rode the waves",.

Boston Beach in Portland, for decades well known by tourists for it's pristine white sand beach, crystal clear water and it's notorious "Jerk Pork", was Jamaica's first internationally recognized surf spot. Visitors to the famous beach witnessed local fishermen returning from sea and "surfing" their boats in on the powerful driving surf rolling into the cove and took the news back to eager ears. Surfers returned to ride the waves, dropping in and sliding left as the fat peak wedged off the outside rock, or charging the thick right on the other side of the tiny protected bay. When these surfers went home, sometimes they would leave their boards behind with locals like Riggley, Morton and Buju, Jamaica's first black surfers, and thus began the Jamaican surf story.

Since those early days, Jamaican surfing has evolved through a number of developmental stages. First  was the "before there were boards" era (pre 60's), the "Long Board" or before there were leashes era (60's - early 70's), the "Bungie chord" or "Short Board" era (70's), the "multi-fin" era (80's) and the "High Tech" era (90's - present).

Back in the early days, the "Wreck" was the prime south coast surf spot. Situated on the Palisadoes peninsula, the Wreck got it's name from the poor unfortunate cargo vessel which misguidedly ran aground in the late 1950's, forming a groin-like set up, off which  perfect 200 yard long lefts would mechanically peel to the beach. Today however, the  Wreck has become a victim of the very waves it helped to create, and is now no more than a submerged heap of rusting metal. Scratch one break!

The decade of the 70's saw many new faces in Jamaican surfing. Along with myself, there was Randy Cargil, Douglas "Nix" Hutchinson,  Pat Talbot, Sean Bourke, Ricky "Pearl" Mafood and Pedro Flora. The waves of Lightbourne Corner, Lighthouse, Lollipop, Copa, Nine Mile, Salt Ponds, Roselle, Prospect, Holland  Bay, Long Bay and Boston had all been riden by then. But  in the summer of '74, the discovery of the decade! The now world famous "Zoo" was "discovered" when David Couch and Terry Muschett paddled out for the first time to sample the clear water, spitting tubes, consistent dependable line-up with the easy go-out. The much steeper, shorter walls of the Zoo, forced local surfers to compress their manuvers. Tube riding skills were honed to razor sharp perfection on the hollow river mouth barrel, resulting in a new more radical brand of Jamaican surfing.

The "discovery" of the Zoo right on our door step, prompted  a whole new era of surf exploration on the island throughout the late 70's into the mid 80's. Potential spots which had been  identified years previously such as Prospect point, Morant River, Holland Bay, Orange Bay, Rio Grande, Swift River, Spanish River and Buff Bay were surfed for the first times, but all had to play second fiddle to the Zoo which became known as the Jamaican Pipeline, not for the size of the wave, but rather, for it's quality and consistency. The Zoo Was the discovery of the decade!

By the 80's, more new faces had appeared on the scene.. People like Piere Diaz, Neil-John Andrade, Julian and Nigel Benjamin, Robert Haughton, Mark Scott, Gary Gregg, Warren Marley, Eugene Miller, Alton Smith and George Cousins. The newcommers surfed most of the established breaks and went on to popularize Peenie Wally and Shark Cove on the North Coast..

The final decade of the old millennium has produced the latest crop of very talented "Tanned Jammies". The new and promising  group is made up of  a number of second generation Jamaican surfers. The Wilmot Kids, Ishack, Inilek and Icah or "The Rats" as they have come to be known, the Chinyee boys, Daniel and Charles, and Justin and Scott Murray. Other "freshers" included Drum Drummond, great grand son of Jamaican national hero Norman Manley, Yves Yearwood, Warren "Beegus" Bailey, Dwayne Walker, Jacquiann Lawton, Luke Williams, Andre Bowman, Joel Lawrence, Kenny Augier, Louis Matalon, David Lee, Alton Smith and Omar Atkinson. A few new spots were were also ridden for the first time in the 90's such as Makka, Prospect middle reef and Yallahs River. The 90's also saw the founding of the Jamaica Surfing Association, which has brought the sport to the attention of the general public, winning fans and encouraging participants through it's publicity drive and national contests.

The New Millenium is here and now a sport that was not even thought to exist in Jamaica is slowly clawing it's way to the surface and every day new and exciting developments unfold. New faces are seen in the line up. Male and female young and old. Jamaica has been represented at the past two Wirld Surfing Games and the last Pan American Surfing Games. New spots have been ridden and old ones lost in the recent spate of hurricanes that have unleashed their fury on the Caribbean. The world famous Zoo was anhialated by the torrential rains and thirty foot seas associated with Hurricane Ivan, but not before Billy Wilmot caught the largest wave in recorded Jamaican surf history. There is good news however for longboarders who had very few options in Jamaica prior to Ivan. The whole Palisadoes peninsula has come alive with countless spots begging for a 9'6" Robert August.

The full potential of Jamaica's surf is still to be realized. Jamaica has had a long and rich surfing history which is still being drafted today by the young bloods of the Jamaican surfing fraternity who will lead the charge into the next  era of Jamaican wave riding!



Pork305: Jamaican Beach; 2007

The island of Jamaica, situated in the north western Caribbean Sea, seems an unlikely place for surfing to develop. Cut off from the large southward moving swells of the north Atlantic by it's larger neighbors  Cuba and Hispaniola, Jamaica seems trapped in the middle of the tiny, tranquil, Caribbean Sea, with very little potential for receiving good surfing waves, except maybe for when a hurricane passes by, which could provide a good swell, or be all blown out, or even worse....blow the whole freakin island away! However, under closer scrutiny we find that this is definitely not the case! The truth is..... Jamaica is blessed with an eight month surf season with the remaining four months of flat time broken up into short one or two week spells. This provided the perfect raw material for the development of Jamaican surfing.

what to pack

Flashdance: A pair of very simple Moroccan flip flops called "Cabjuks"; 25 May 2007

A small backpack makes a good carryon bag and will be useful in daily life. Women: remember to take a good flat pair of shoe's.... And for everybody: pair of comfortable walking shoes will be great for sightseeing. Beach clothing & sandals will be useful if you are going in the warm season. Try to choose classics, and items that you can mix and match. Have at least one set of nicer clothing for more formal occasions.

Definitely take along some bug repellent spray, good sunscreen and sunglasses! Better take your medicines with you (esp. anti hastamine tablets), as the brands can be unfamiliar and cost more. If you are worried you'll get sick, you should take along painkillers and cold/flu medications as well!

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