Bull Bay is everything Hellshire isn’t (calm, quiet, clean, take your pick), and this location is part of the allure of the Jamnesia Surf Club. Located a few miles from the Norman Manley Airport in Kingston, Jamnesia is the surfing mecca of Jamaica. Ironic, because the last thing anybody thinks about when thinking of Jamaica is surfing; dreadlocks, marijuana and reggae but never surfing. But near the border of St Thomas, that’s exactly what they do.
Jamnesia isn’t the easiest place to spot and requires an old sign, a keen eye, and Google Maps in order to find it. After my personal experience, I prefer to think of it’s out of the way-ness as a method of preserving its beaches, rather than an inconvenience. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
On a normal day, the unpredictable teal waves are manageable for the newbie surfer. The instructors show you (on land) how to stand and turn on the board. Olympic-level swimming abilities aren’t necessary – the water is about 4ft deep – but it helps if you know how to float and doggy-paddle. A word of warning: you will fall into the water. If you’re anything like me, you will fall into the water a lot. But nothing compares to riding your first wave all the way to the shore, so I’d say the falling was worth it. And again, 4ft deep, there’s no real danger.
I will admit that at first glance, the price of surfing lessons borders on steep (so much so that I won’t mention them and leave it as a surprise), but I can’t emphasize how much I got my money’s worth and more. The instructors were chill and friendly, the lessons don’t have a time limit so they’ll have you surfing until you’re literally begging for a break and it’s a good substitute for an upper body workout at the gym (if that’s your thing or you want an excuse). Also, the more you go there and get better at surfing, you get to pay less money because you don’t need as much teaching time and only pay for board rentals to practice.
But maybe surfing isn’t your style. Well, a beach is a beach (is a beach). So, while you watch your friends or family surf (which let’s face it, is as good as walking on water), it’s still possible to enjoy the other activities that a beach has to offer, whether it be walking on the shore and collecting seashells or swimming in the water (just remember there are surfers). Jamnesia doesn’t monopolize the beach to strictly surfing.
And being a mecca, they also offer a surf library, information on competitions, videos and news. Suffice it to say, they are pretty pumped at Jamnesia for the 2020 Olympics, aka the first Olympics where surfing will be an event.
Surfing is a liberating experience and Jamnesia Surf Club maximizes that experience, but you aren’t limited to just surfing (you’ll just feel less liberated collecting seashells). And after one day, I agree with something an instructor said; Jesus probably was a surfer.