If you’re looking to enjoy some delicious seafood, then Hellshire should be one of the places you consider.
It’s a popular south coast beach and seafood spot located in Portmore, St. Catherine. So popular that if you find yourself here during a holiday, you can easily expect a 3-hour wait for your food because of the crowd of people.
It’s one of those places local Jamaicans love, and an area which those visiting from abroad put on their “must-visit” list.
While you won’t see much tourists here, you should consider paying it a visit if you want an authentic “off-the-grid” experience.
While it’s away from many of the “well-known” hotels and resorts on the north coast and yeah you probably won’t find tour buses, you’ll come to see it’s an experience like no other.
The Seafood Experience
There’s a ton of little stalls/shops which cook up their daily catch. I’m talking about fish, conch, lobsters, festival, bammy and more.
Fried fish is a favourite of many due to the preparation. It’s well seasoned and kissed by onions as well as the Jamaican scotch bonnet pepper (hmm delicious!). For those not really into the oily type of food, you can try the steam fish which is often cooked to perfection with okra, seasoning and served with Jamaican water crackers.
But perhaps one of the best things you’ll love about dining here is the fact that you get to choose the fish you’d like prepared for you.
There’s a cooler in each of the stalls with a ton of options. You can select the amount you’d like; they’ll weigh it and go straight into cleaning then preparing and cooking it the way you’d like.
Lobsters are also kept fresh on the ice (though not alive). They’re kept cold and ready by the blocks of ice on which they are placed.
Note: Hellshire is a great place for food. The area is well-frequented by Jamaicans who have a good idea of the pricing you can expect to pay. However, some tourists have complained about being hustled when they visit (they are charged higher prices). As a precaution, I’d suggest you go with a local that’s knowledgeable about the area and the prices.
Swimming at Hellshire
While you wait for your food, you can chill and have a Red Stripe Beer or take a dip in the ocean. The waves of the sea wash up right by the stalls. You can step outside, and in a few steps, you’d be in the water. While not the cleanest or best white-sand beach that you may be used to, the water is refreshing and enjoyable. Don’t be shy to step out in your bathing suit and take a refreshing dip.
On the weekends and holidays, expect a crowd! There are times when the water has so many people you won’t have much room to do a somersault.
Vendors and Other Activities
Vendors at this location take advantage of the crowds by selling their goods. You can easily find someone selling delicious treats or shrimp for a few dollars.
Horseback riding is available to those who want to do something different while there. You’ll hop on and be guided by the handler who walks right by the horse’s side while you enjoy the stroll. It’s a cool experience, I must say.
What to Bring
A swimsuit of course! Even if you don’t plan to take a swim, pack it just in case. It may also be helpful if you take along your snorkeling gear. The water isn’t always that clear, but you’ll never know.
Finally, bring some money for food and drink. Prices may differ from stall to stall so don’t be afraid to ask around.
How to Get There
The best way to get to Hellshire is by car. You can rent one and head on out to Portmore. You can also consider chartering a private cab that’s familiar with the area and who can take you to and from the spot.
If you do end up driving yourself, be mindful there are guys there which will assist you with parking. To park is free but these guys always try to be helpful in hopes of getting a tip from you. They can help keep an eye on your vehicle too, but it’s completely up to you whether you accept their assistance or not.
Hopefully you give it a shot. You’ll love it!