Jamaica is an absolutely stunning location with a rich and vibrant culture.
If you look up pictures of Jamaican coastlines, you’ll be met with breathtaking views of crystal blue water rolling over golden sands. Therefore, it’s no wonder that many vacationers choose Jamaica as the ideal destination for surfing.
Despite the beauty of Jamaica’s coasts, the area isn’t actually very well known for its surf. In fact, there is only one established surf camp in Jamaica.
With that being said, the one surf camp in Jamaica is known for providing the experience of a lifetime and has become iconic amongst tourists. Moreover, there are plenty of absolutely gorgeous locations for surfing in Jamaica if you’re prepared to organize your accommodation separately.
Stay tuned to find out all about Jamaica’s popular surf camp and the best surfing destinations in the country.
The 10 Best Surf Camps and Locations in Jamaica
1. Jamnesia Surf Camp
Jamnesia Surf Camp is the ultimate destination and experience for keen surfers.
The camp is run by the Wilmot family and is located at Bull Bay, which is widely considered to be one of the best surf spots in Jamaica because of its wave consistency.
Jamnesia is just a 10-minute drive from the nearest airport and runs throughout summer and winter.
You can choose to stay in a camp room, a bungalow room, or a tent at the camp. Breakfast and dinner are always included in package prices.
For an additional $30, you can get professional surf lessons at Jamenesia, whether you’re a beginner or intermediate surfer. Surfboard rental costs just $10 per day.
The camp also provides a photography service from $10, and you can use the nearby Freedom Skate Park in your free time.
2. Lighthouse 2
Lighthouse 2 is another popular surf spot in Jamaica, located in Kingston. It is very easily accessible from the Norman Manley airport, and the conditions are usually ideal for surfing.
The best surf conditions at Lighthouse 2 are usually in November, but we recommend waiting until December to get out of hurricane season.
Surfers should beware of hidden rocks when surfing in this area, but during the winter months, you can expect a decent percentage of clean, surfable waves.
3. Zoo (Bull Bay)
While the Jamnesia Surf Camp is located in the Copa area of Bull Bay, you can also surf in the Zoo area, which is near the bay on the southeast side of Jamaica.
Zoo is the perfect surf location if you have some experience and enjoy a challenge. Recently, the reef in Zoo was damaged by Hurricane Ivan, so conditions are now more challenging, although the waves remain quite consistent.
As with Lighthouse 2, you’ll find the best surf conditions at Zoo in November, when the waves are the cleanest.
4. Boston Bay
Boston Bay is a very appealing location for surfers because it provides solid surf conditions throughout the year as well as a stunning view.
Most waves at Boston Bay are of a surfable size, although a high percentage are often blown out.
You’ll find the best surf at Boston Bay during the early Autumn months, although this coincides with hurricane season.
5. Runaway Bay
If you’re a total surfing beginner, Runaway Bay on the north coast might be the ideal surf spot for you in Jamaica.
Experienced surfers are likely to find most of the waves in this area too small, but beginners will find this helpful to start with. Plus, the beach is rarely crowded, so it’s perfect if you want to enjoy some peace and quiet in nature.
Makka beach is located on the north coast of Jamaica, in St. Thomas.
If you visit Makka beach during the winter months (November is usually best, although this is still within hurricane season), you can enjoy a solid percentage of clean and surfable waves.
Makka beach is not usually crowded, and the waves are rarely too small for surfing.
7. The Ranch
The Ranch is another good surf spot for surfers of various abilities.
Waves in this area are surfable at most tide levels, and even on the rare occasion that the waves are too small for experienced surfers, the water will still be ideal for beginners.
The nearest airport to The Ranch is 30 miles away, however, so make sure you have transport and accommodation sorted.
8. Long Bay
Long Bay has inconsistent surf conditions, but there are normally enough clean waves to make the experience worthwhile, and the smaller waves will suit beginners just fine.
The surf at Long Bay is best in October, but regardless of the time of year, you’ll rarely have to contend with crowds.
Navy Island is a small island off the coast of Jamaica, and it has consistent surf conditions year-round.
However, we would only recommend this surf spot to experience surfers and swimmers because of the riptides, rocks, and urchins.
January is the best month to visit Navy Island if you want to catch the cleanest, largest waves.
10. Peenie Wally
Finally, Peenie Wally is a point break with consistent surf conditions.
Unfortunately, most of the waves at Peenie Wally are very small, so experienced surfers may wish to surf elsewhere. Beginners, however, will benefit from the practice provided by smaller waves.
The best conditions at Peenie Wally tend to occur in the Autumn months, but beginners should be able to benefit from the conditions year-round if hurricane season is a concern.
Meal Price Range
You should budget to spend at least J$3,050 on food each day that you spend in Jamaica, provided that food is not provided by your surf camp or accommodation.
This may sound like a lot of money, but don’t panic: this actually only translates to just over $20 per day at the current exchange rate.
Renting surf equipment in Jamaica can be tricky because there are currently no surf shops, so if you can, we recommend bringing your own gear.
However, Jamnesia Surf Camp offers surfboard rental for $10 a day for guests. The camp also has a $20 per day offer on board rentals for surfers who aren’t staying at the camp.
Prepaid SIM Cards
You can buy a SIM card in Jamaica for between 500 and 700 Jamaican dollars.
Alternatively, companies like One SIM Card provide SIM cards for Jamaica that offer prepaid phone service for low prices, including free voicemail checking and receipt of SMS messages.
Modes of public transport available in Jamaica include taxis, buses, and minibusses.
Buses are cheap but can often be very crowded. Taxis are less crowded and reasonably priced, but they only run set routes.
Because getting public transport in Jamaica can be inconvenient at times, you might want to consider renting a car.
If you choose to do this, you’ll need to plan ahead for gas prices. On average, gas costs roughly J$179 per liter, which is $1.19 in the US.
Types of Risks
Although Jamaica is a beautiful country full of wonderful people, there are some risks you should bear in mind if you’re considering traveling to the island.
When traveling in Jamaica as a tourist, it is wise to stay alert and cautious. This is because Jamaica has a relatively high crime rate.
Much of the violent crime in Jamaica is gang-related, however, and tends to be confined to inner-city areas, which are not popular tourist spots. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon for tourists to fall victim to theft, particularly in areas such as Montego Bay.
While we do advise some caution when vacationing in Jamaica, rest assured that the majority of tourist spots are largely safe and that the crime rate in Jamaica has actually been declining in recent years.
Outside of criminal activity, something else tourists should be wary of is the weather. Hurricane season in Jamaica falls between the months of September and November, so we would recommend avoiding these 3 months for vacations if possible.
Since you’re going to be surfing in Jamaica, it’s also important to be aware of the safety of the water surrounding Jamaica’s coastlines.
While the ocean surrounding Jamaica is actually relatively calm, Jamaica’s waters are home to a variety of potentially dangerous marine life.
Because the waters are warm, you may encounter sharks. Shark species that live in the Caribbean waters around Jamaica include predators such as the hammerhead, bull shark, tiger shark, and Caribbean reef shark. With that being said, shark attacks in Jamaica remain relatively rare. Stay alert for stingrays, urchins, and jellyfish, though.
The ocean isn’t the only place in Jamaica where you might encounter potentially dangerous animals. American Crocodiles can be found in swamp areas such as Black River in St. Elizabeth or Portmore, St. Catherine.
Several species of snake are also native to Jamaica, including the venomous adder. You can identify this snake from its dark brown or black skin with black zig-zag marking and spotted sides.
How to Prepare
In order to travel to Jamaica, you will first need to apply for a tourist visa.
To obtain your tourist visa, you’ll need to have a valid U.S. passport with at least 6 months remaining before the expiration date.
You’ll also need another valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license.
Finally, you’ll be required to prove that you intend to and are able to return to the U.S. after your vacation. You can prove this by providing your return ticket.
Before you travel to Jamaica, you’ll need to ensure that you are fully up to date with your rabies and tetanus vaccinations.
You will also need to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B as well as Yellow Fever.
Don’t wait until the last minute to get vaccinated. Make sure you get all necessary vaccines at least 2 weeks in advance of your travel date.
Language and Currency
The official language of Jamaica is English, so issues pertaining to language barriers should be minimal.
However, the language most often used between locals is Jamaican Patois (also known as Patwa), which is a form of Creole based around the English and West African languages.
The currency in Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar. One Jamaican Dollar is equal to 0.0066 American Dollars. Compared to many other islands in the Caribbean, vacationing in Jamaica is quite cost-effective.
Checking Surf Forecast
When checking the surf forecast in Jamaica, you will need to verify the forecast for the specific location at which you’re planning to surf.
This is because waves at certain surf spots are less reliable than others due to wind direction, exposure, swell angle, and structures such as rocks and reefs.
Weather that might create the perfect conditions at Long Bay, for example, might impede your surf at Boston Bay.
Surf-Forecast.com provides forecasting for all the best surf spots in Jamaica on a daily basis.
Overseas medical care in Jamaica is an expense you don’t want to risk incurring, so it’s best to get travel insurance before you leave for your vacation.
In case your surfing gear gets lost or stolen in Jamaica, we also recommend getting surf insurance to cover any losses.
Anything Else You Should Know
In the summer, temperatures in Jamaica can reach heights of 91 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). The coolest it usually gets in Jamaica is 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius), and this is usually during the month of January.
If you are not accustomed to tropical temperatures, the adjustment may feel overwhelming. Remember to bring sufficient quantities of water with you wherever you go and take care to apply and reapply sunscreen diligently as needed.
Although it may feel counterintuitive, we also highly recommend packing long-sleeved pants and shirts alongside your shorts, t-shirts, vests, and swimwear. Keep these garments as light and airy as possible, and avoid colors that will absorb the heat from the sun, such as black. This will allow you to protect your skin from harmful UV rays while remaining as cool as possible.
Bringing a hat with you will also help to keep heat stroke at bay.