A contrast to the usual trademarks of the Caribbean, Treasure Beach in Jamaica is a unique and refreshing contribution to the region. This string of sleepy fishing villages welcomes visitors from around the world and is located off Jamaica’s south coast.
Serving up six miles of coral-coloured beaches, gem-like private coves, rocky shores and lush waterfalls, Treasure Beach is true to its name. Have a snorkelling adventure at Frenchman’s Bay with a chance to see dolphins. Zipline through the forest over the YS Waterfalls, or explore the Santa Cruz Mountains. Fancy a slower pace? Then sidle up to a shady palm tree with an ice-cold Red Stripe beer, and set the tone for a day of beach-bliss.
Arid like the East-African Savannas, Jamaica’s landscape is home to a rare breed of trees that bloom with canopies of bright purple blossoms. Produced by the ornamental Lignum Vitae tree, Jamaica’s national flower is a rare and gorgeous sight.
Treasure Beach is a world unto its own with a wealth of natural beauty, a backbone of humility and a stream of lesser-known gems. Discover 10 local tips on how to enhance your holiday experience in and around the Treasure Beach area, and why its people will continue to preserve its mystique.
In this article on the Sandals Blog:
Endowing romance to adjectives such as “boho”, “barefoot” and “off the beaten track”, Treasure Beach Jamaica found its way onto the tourism map almost 27 years ago.
The secret of Treasure Beaches’ monopoly on authentic island bliss was out and growth was inevitable. Still, even after the installation of a convenient cashpoint, reliable wifi and a luxury spa, Treasure Beach was able to retain its authenticity.
In the destination's more ancient history, 700 AD saw the arrival of the peaceful Taino Indians. These were the first inhabitants of Jamaica. A creative society, the new island-dwellers were skilled potters, carvers, weavers, boat builders and farmers; all traditions the Tainos retained for centuries.
A large population of the Taino people made their way to Treasure Beach, setting up camp around 1494 AD. Remnants of Taino pottery can still be found lying around the island, particularly spottable after a heavy rain. It was not long after they settled, that the Spanish made their arrival to the Jamaican waters, spelling the doom of the Taino people. Captured and enslaved, the Tainos quickly became extinct across Jamaica.
On the brighter side, some Taino Indians managed to flee Jamaica in boats, making their way to the shores of the Americas, where small Taino communities can still be found today.
Interesting fact: Popular Taino words you may recognise are: canoe, hammock, hurricane and tobacco.
Centuries later, around mid-1600 AD, a Scottish ship sank off the shores of Jamaica. The survivors swam to shore and became new inhabitants of the island. Instantly recognized as "brownin's" or "red men" from Treasure Beach, the inevitable intermixing with the local population led to the widespread presence of striking and handsome people.
From swimming, to biking and hiking, Treasure Beach Jamaica has got them all. In case you’re still unsure that it’s an amazing destination, below are ten more great reasons to visit Treasure Beach:
Treasure Beach encourages community-based tourism practices, where all of the locals are actively involved in sustainable local development.
“IN THIS PARISH, WE WORK, NOT SHIRK”, is the sign that welcomes visitors as they arrive at the Parish of St. Elizabeth. A work ethic distilled across 200 years, upheld by generations of fishermen and farmers. It is the foundation of this communities’ well-deserved reputation, setting Treasure Beach apart from the rest of the island.
While this unpolished fishing village may not epitomise a paradise notorious for parasailing and speedboats, located just 60 miles off Jamaica’s South Coast are a number of keys surrounded by fertile fishing banks. The fisherman of Treasure Beach cast their nets and return daily with an array of delicious and colourful fish, crabs and lobsters. Searching for the perfect morsel to buy and eat that day, the beach fills up with hungry locals who watch the fisherman offload their hauls, weigh them, sort them and ice the fish before sending them off in trucks to be sold.
What better way to enrich yourself than with such an immersive experience? A trip to Treasure Beach Jamaica presents the perfect opportunity to embrace the islands vibrant culture and rich history upheld by the laid back inhabitants who are friendly, and above all, proud to be Jamaican.
Treasure Beach is the generic name for four of the main coves across this part of the island’s shores:
Billy's Bay is a beautiful natural site located on the south-west coast of Jamaica. Though the white-to-grey sand is peppered with rocks and shells, you will easily find a number of places to throw down a towel and enjoy a peaceful day of basking in the sun. Billy’s Bay aquamarine waters have just enough waves to enjoy a bit of body surfing.
Dotted with private villas, hotels, bars, and restaurants, visitors are commonly seen hopping from one beach shack to the next, sipping refreshing rum cocktails. Swimming is also possible on this beach, but the waters can be rather choppy.
Burrowed in the shadows of the Santa Cruz Mountain range, Frenchman's Bay is slightly greener than its neighbouring beaches. The delightful mix of golden beaches and crystal-like turquoise waters draws a consistent flow of tourists. Currents tend to be strong here, so be sure to check before you wade in.
Home to a Fishermen’s Co-op building, the beachside is lined with beach shacks serving up fresh seafood and ice-cold beers. Pop into The Lobster Pot, one of the area’s best restaurants, serving simple-yet-delicious made-to-order seafood. While Great Bay is the least visited of the beaches, visitors can still be seen bathing and swimming in its waters.
Expert Tip: Most beaches do not have bathrooms or places where you can wash the salt from your skin, so look out for a nearby restaurant or local business should you need the bathroom.
In line with Treasure Beach Jamaica’s quest for simplicity and sustainability, the fishing village has become a sports tourism destination. Across the street from one of the predominant Treasure Beach hotels is the Breds Treasure Beach Sports Park & Academy, a 17-acre community hub where over 1,500 local athletes play sports.
Visitors regularly head to the park to cheer on cricket, football and track groups at meets between Jamaican and foreign teams. Saturday nights draw a big crowd, due to the commentator who doubles up as a DJ, blasting dancehall between games. During the summer the academy hosts local and international camps with coaches and big-name athlete mentors that visit from around the globe - like Venus and Serena Williams. Visitors are encouraged to join in the fun.
Face your fears on the 400-foot zip-line, or hit a tennis ball on one of the park’s many courts. No matter when you visit, there’s always something going on.
Enjoy breathtaking views while cruising down Jamaica’s largest navigable river on a Black River safari tour. A quiet 1.5 hour cruise along the Black River and lower morass. Towards the Caribbean sea, the tour explores remote wetlands and mangroves, where you will see much of the local wildlife, including the endangered American crocodile. Also home to more than 300 species of tropical birds, the Black River lower morass is a birders paradise.
Surrounded by lush gardens and magnificent trees, seven waterfalls make up the YS Falls, all cascading through an idyllic natural setting. Though some areas are fairly rocky and do not allow swimming, being able to swim is a requirement when traversing the falls. For children or those unable to swim, there is a natural pool available, fed by underground and above-ground springs.
After travelling inland across a working cattle and stud farm, guests can opt to zipline across the breadth of the falls, river tube further downstream of YS Falls, or relax in one of the cabanas next to a natural spring.
Bathrooms can be found at the ticket office, and at the waterfalls there are also changing rooms and an environmentally friendly toilet.
Beach cafes and roadside stands line the streets and shoreline of Treasure Beach, offering freshly prepared local favourites, including:
With the slow commercial growth in recent years a few of the newer spots about town offer more international options such as pizzas, burgers or fried chicken.
Surrounded by seemingly endless turquoise waters, and serving up ice-cold beer and fresh fish, Floyd’s Pelican Bar in Jamaica has earned its reputation as “the coolest bar in the world”. The rickety wooden structure, erected in the middle of the water, is only reachable by boat. To get there you will need to visit one of the few landings that offer rides to Pelican Bar. Boats leave daily from Black River, Treasure Beach, Parottee Point and some nearby resorts.
Tip: Stay at all-inclusive resort Sandals South Coast and book a luxury catamaran trip out to the Pelican Bar, arriving in style.
Pelican's menu consists out of only 4 items: chilled beer, rum punch, fish and lobster. The fish and lobster are both fresh and tasty. However, if seafood is not your thing, then we advise you to carry a snack of your own.
Some house rules:
Expert Tip: To avoid disappointment, ask your resort or driver to call ahead if you are planning to eat off the menu. Fresh fish and lobster tend to run out quite quickly. Also, don’t forget your water shoes. You’ll need them when you take a dip in the water.
The owners of Frenchman's Reef are warm and welcoming people, who’s establishment offers a vibrant selection of local dishes that keep guests coming back. Fresh produce, expertly seasoned meats, and a healthy serving of starches make their menu so moreish that you will be full and happy in no time. There is something for everyone at Frenchman’s Reef, including favourites such as burgers, pizzas, fresh seafood, and Red Stripe beer.
Located on the edge of Treasure Beach, Frenchman’s Reef delivers a friendly and relaxed dining experience. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Untainted, Jamaica’s south coast is full of natural wonder waiting to be explored. If you’re limited on time, joining a tour can help you see the best of your destination.
Choose a tour which suits your preference and pace. Ease into your holiday by heading to Appleton Estate, a rum distillery that dates back to 1749, and is known for creating one of the world’s smoothest and most sought-after rums. Turn up the heat and saddle up atop a sleek horse and trot along a lush tropical trail to a beautiful remote beach on the south coast.
Expert Tip: Island Routes is Sandals' go-to tour operator and runs over 43 tours along the south coast alone. Put in your tour requests at your Sandals resort, and let the adventures begin.
One day Spirit said, "Go home to your roots!" And so I did.
Sharon Martini created the Africa Village Arts establishment, which is known as a creative enterprise located in Treasure Beach — the home of her ancestors.
Inspired by her forefathers, Sharon Martini has single-handedly created a ‘divine creative haven’ where she is able to be inspired, and in turn inspires others through her works of art, music, designs, paintings and songs.
When she’s not volunteering in the community, you can find Martini creating, sanding, sawing, singing, painting, sewing, strumming her guitar and digging in the soil.
Pop into the Mud Palace Gallery, the creative hub where you will find, and be able to purchase arts of all kinds - children's books, cards, original paintings, handmade jewellery, t-shirts and a smorgasbord of goodies and gifts.
The weather in Jamaica is spectacular year-round, even during the rainy season, making it the ideal destination to enjoy a beautiful island getaway.
Temperatures average 80°F during the months of mid-November to mid-December making it the best time to visit Jamaica. This sweet spot is just after low season, but just before peak season. The winter months from mid-December to April are known as peak season in Jamaica. The weather is slightly cooler over these months inviting an influx of tourists from around the globe.
Location: Treasure Beach, Jamaica.
Roads in the area are narrow, winding and moderately potholed. Finding a taxi or renting a car would be your best bet. If you rent a taxi, make sure to negotiate a price before you take off to get the best price. Most accommodations can assist with car rentals, should you choose to drive yourself. If you’re driving to Black River, it's best to go via Pedro Cross. This is the more direct coastal route, the road via Parrotee is badly cratered.
Below is the estimated time it will take you to travel from each Sandals resort to Treasure Beach:
Apart from big smiles and your sense of adventure, below is a list of things to consider packing for your day trip to Treasure Beach:
Misplacing or damaging your belongings can be a dampener on any holiday.
Whether you have a yearning to pursue the simple life of sustainable local development, or a nature-lover of all things exotic, or you’re simply looking to be temporarily freed from the clutches of everyday life, Treasure Beach in Jamaica has got it all.
Picture: The gorgeous beach at Sandals South Coast Jamaica makes for some of the most romantic walks, for couples in love.