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Treasure Beach: The Hidden Gem of Jamaica

Treasure Beach: The Hidden Gem of Jamaica

Posted by Shanelle Weir on June 12, 2014

Ask anyone who has been there where their favorite spot is in Jamaica, and they’ll likely name resorts in Negril, Montego Bay, or Ocho Rios. 

I recently told a colleague I’d be visiting the Caribbean country. “Where?” she inquired, and said she’d been everywhere there.

“Treasure Beach,” I replied. 

She’d never heard of it.

This sleepy beachside village on the south side of the island is a two-plus-hour drive of sharp curves, narrow roads, and pot holes from both Kingston’s and Montego Bay’s airports, but it’s worth every bout of nausea you’ll encounter along the way.

Unlike the island’s more popular areas, you won’t find any resorts in Treasure Beach, which encompasses five bays on the south coast – Fort Charles Bay, Billy’s Bay, Frenchman’s Bay, Calabash Bay and Great Pedro Bay – in St. Elizabeth’s parish.

A handful of small hotels and rental villas are charming, restaurants are truly authentic, and it’s certainly safe to walk between them at night. Some of the coves provide for calm, mostly rock-free swimming, a rarity in other parts of the island.

What’s more, the area is more culturally minded than you’ll find in other areas. Part of that has to do with the Calabash literary festival, which occurs every two years at Jakes Hotel. Literati from around the world gather to mingle with and hear Caribbean and non-Caribbean authors read their work. This year’s headliner was Salman Rushdie, who was seen milling about during the entirety of the three-day event.

When to Go

Weather is balmy year round, but summer months (July-September) do have an increased risk of hurricanes. December to March is the most popular time to go, so prices are at their highest. You can find good air and hotel rates, and great weather, from April to June.

How to Get There

You can access Treasure Beach from either Kingston or Montego Bay. The drive from Kingston is a bit easier, but be warned that it’s mostly on pothole-filled, narrow country roads. It’s about two hours from Kingston, and 2.5 from Montego Bay. There are few street signs in Jamaica, and drivers don’t seem to follow many road rules. You don’t really need a car once you get to Treasure Beach, so the safest bet is to hire a driver. Your hotel should be able to help arrange someone to meet you at the airport, or you can arrange yourself here.

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