The Promise of St Thomas

Turn right off the A4 on the eastern edge of Bull Bay across from the Kingdom Hall, down a narrow lane between ramshackle huts and zinc fence, and across the unmarked parish border you’ll find Bob
Marley Beach. Fishing canoes rest idle, Rastas burn ganja in the shade, and the sounds of reggae drift on the breeze. Far from the famous beaches of Negril, few locals know this fishermen’s enclave, and fewer foreign visitors still. Those who do find their way to Jamaica’s easternmost parish marvel at the beauty of its rugged, windswept coastline, in places rocky, in others pebbled, or lined with black or golden sand. So named for being one of the late legend’s favourite chill spots, Bob Marley Beach is a fitting entryway
to an underexplored parish dotted with laid back and lightly visited attractions.

Notwithstanding its economic relevance historically as a major banana, cattle and sugar producing region, St Thomas has all but escaped the frenzied development that catapulted much of Jamaica into the modern era postindependence. It’s often referred to as the forgotten parish, and for good
reason, as anyone who’s punished their vehicle on its roads can attest. There are still no stoplights in the parish, its largest town has less than 100,000 inhabitants, and it wasn’t until 2022 that Kentucky Fried Chicken announced plans to establish its first location in the parish at the Morant Bay Urban Centre on the grounds of the old Goodyear tire factory. Forgotten indeed.