Most of the time when you read about visiting Jamaica it’s about the big resorts and hotels in Ocho Rios and Negril. Those are undoubtedly beautiful places with stunning white sand beaches and amazing sites. In Ocho Rios, you can find Dunn’s River Falls, which is a rare travertine waterfall (you can actually climb it!), 180 feet high and 600 feet long emptying into the Caribbean Sea. Or for the partying set, there’s Negril’s Seven Mile Beach. The beach itself is beautiful, but the real draw is Rick’s Café serving up tasty food and cocktails and some insane cliff diving!
We opted for a version of Jamaica every bit as beautiful and fun as Ocho Rios or Negril but with a much more tranquil vibe.
Where to stay – Treasure Beach
Saint Elizabeth’s Parish, located on the southwest coast of the island, is one of Jamaica’s largest parishes and home to the Appleton rum distillery and a number of ecotourism destinations. To get there you’ll want to fly into Montego Bay, Nigril or Kingston. It’s roughly a two to three hour drive from the airport (2.5 hrs Montego Bay, 1.5 hrs Nigril, and 3 hrs Kingston).
Jakes has a selection of rooms, bungalows, cottages and villas in a beautiful boho relaxed scene with a private beach you can snorkel from right off the pier! Our family chose one of the bungalows and loved it. With the addition of a twin bed, it was the perfect size for 2 adults and a kid. With a private porch and walk-in closet, we had plenty of room. It felt much more homey than a typical hotel room. There are plenty of larger options too for bigger families.
Food and Drink
We ate every breakfast and some dinners at Jake’s Restaurant right on-site. The menu was scrawled on a chalkboard and changed at the start of each day so you always had the option of something new to try. We ate fresh grilled seafood, lots of salads and soups made with vegetables grown locally as well as Jamaican classics like conch fritters and coconut curried chicken with plantains.
Jack Sprat, just a stroll down the path from Jakes, held a special place in our hearts, with beautiful sunsets from the deck on the beach and amazing conch soup!
It’s the neighborhood hotspot in Treasure Beach and one of the best places to mix with locals and other Jakes guests. They have great seafood of course, including that conch soup I mentioned…You have to try it! And they make fresh pizza with toppings like pepperoni, lobster and jerk chicken. We loved to get a couple of cold Red Stripes and eat on the breezy outdoor deck overlooking the ocean, while watching the sunset.
Dougie’s Bar overlooks Jakes’ pool and the Caribbean Sea. It’s not fancy, but it’s a very welcoming place where people gather, play cards or dominoes, and just sip on tasty drinks from fresh fruit smoothies to the iconic rum punch. The blender starts at 10 a.m. each morning and the food and drinks keep coming until the last guest calls it quits. They also had live music one evening during the week that made it a really fun but chill party atmosphere.
One thing you have to do when you’re staying in Treasure Beach is visit the Pelican Bar. It’s such a unique experience to have drinks on a driftwood bar when you have just taken a boat out to sea and are completely surrounded by water. Here is a fun video clip that gives you an idea. It’s the coolest bar located in the middle of the ocean! If you like fresh seafood you can have your taxi (aka boat) driver call in your lobster order so it’s ready for you when you arrive. Also it’s convenient to plan since you can arrange for a boat to pick you up right at Jakes pier.
You can also take a 1/2 day boat excursion with Captain Dennis
which we did along with our journey out to the Pelican Bar. After leaving Pelican Bar we went along the coast to a private beach where Captain Dennis and his crew set up a makeshift outdoor kitchen to cook us all lunch. While there, we snorkeled, played some volleyball and swam in the turquoise blue water.
Black River Tour
Another option, which we didn’t get a chance to try during this trip, is the Black River tour. This is a thrilling 15-mile boat journey down the coast from Jakes. The Great Morass, as it’s called, is a 125-square-mile mangrove wetland, extending inland from the mouth of the Black River. From there they navigate the boat up river for about 12 miles. This wetland is a preserve for more than 100 bird species, including, jacanas, egrets, whistling-duck, water hen, seven species of heron and red-footed coots. There are also a smaller and less aggressive version of the man-eating crocs found in Australia and Africa. So, beware trailing your fingers in the water. Naturalists estimate that there may be up to 300 crocodiles left in this particular swamp.
Up river you can stop for a snack at Sister Lou’s—a thatched-roof shack where the specialty is crab backs. The crab backs are supposed to be delicious, especially when devoured between dips in the freshwater swimming hole under the bridge.
Watch a game of Cricket with the locals
One of my favorite things we did is walk just down the street from Jakes to watch a live Cricket match.
If you go to Jamaica or if you’ve been before let us know about it in the comments!
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