29 Jul 2013Blog

Ju Ju’s beach

by Catherine

The swoosh of sand just north of the Fairmont Royal Pavilion Hotel is officially called Alleyne’s Beach but is commonly referred to by the name of the simple rumshack/restaurant that makes its home there, Ju Ju’s. Once one of the hidden gems on the West coast, you could say the secret is out as it is now a popular gathering spot for locals, ex-pats and tourists alike. However, you do have to be “in the know” to find it as it is not actually visible from the coast road. Don’t worry, we’ll get you into this inner circle.

It’s in the parish of St. James about 2.5 km north of Holetown. Shortly after the Fairmont and before the Lone Star Hotel you’ll see a sign for Store House Road by the white Seventh Day Adventist Church. You can usually find street parking up and around there. Across on the coast road you’ll see a small lime green wooden house with a narrow passageway on the left which leads right to the beach and Ju-Ju’s. Alternatively, there’s beach access next to a construction project going on next door.

The beach itself has all the requisite elements – sun, sand, surf, shade, sports, shop, sips and snacks – and is ideal for a lazy day in the rays, a swim with the turtles, some watersport action or a social sundowner where, on a clear day, you might even witness the elusive green flash. You can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas, masks and snorkels and partake in a range of aquatic activities including kayaks, paddleboats, jet skis and speed boat thrill rides. Rest assured, you won’t be hassled by over-eager vendors, but they are there if you need them.

While some lament that the oft-crowded beach bar has become a victim of its own success, you can’t fault Ju Ju’s for getting a good thing going. Delicious food (check the chalkboard for the day’s menu), plentiful drinks (the rum punch is top notch) and good value prices (a rarity on this island) makes it a welcome low-brow option on the otherwise high-brow platinum coast.

Make no mistake, this is a no-frills bright blue wooden shack with a handful of rickety tables on the deck and a smattering on the sand, where beach attire is welcome and bare feet the norm – and therein lies its rustic charm. Some days you might have a quiet lunch to yourself, and some evenings it’s standing room only with the overflow of patrons happily imbibing at the water’s edge. It depends on the day and the season. Be forewarned, however, that on a busy day the small kitchen can get overwhelmed and you may have to wait (and wait…) for food. Best advice? Leave your Type A personality and service efficiency standards at home and practice the fine Caribbean art of “liming”. A laid-back, chillax vibe will help you keep your cool and reflect the spirit of the island. Don’t go with a famished belly, a parched gullet or impatient kids and you’ll be fine. Trust us, this is one place where the food quality – especially grilled fish and those must-have homemade fries – is worth the wait. It’s open for lunch, dinner and drinks until 7:00pm.

Right beside Ju-Ju’s is the Star Fish Hut, an upscale boutique and jewelry shop that’s worth poking in. Up the beach is another informal beach grill/watering hole called Ramshackle which stays open until 11:00pm or so. They often have beach barbecues complete with bonfire and music, which can draw a fun crowd. For fancier fare, the Lone Star Restaurant offers superb fine dining with an equally superb view – the same view you can enjoy for considerably less at Ju-Ju’s.