As we approached the end of 2020, we decided to make the most of what was left of the year and go to Jamaica for some respite.
Unlike our other Christmas-to-New Year vacations, we knew we wanted standalone accommodations that gave us the ability to stay close as a family unit but also facilitated the distance that was necessary to stay safe.
In just one day we reviewed our options and booked one of the cottages at Jakes Hotel in Treasure Beach.
Sweet Lip or Snapper?
Sweet Lip and Snapper are two of several cottages at Jakes Hotel. Both are two-bedroom standalone cottages just feet away from the Caribbean Sea.
Sweet Lip is described as having an Art Deco vibe with antique tiled floors. The charming seaside retreat was our home for nine glorious, sea-swept days.
For those considering Sweet Lip, you should know that it is next to the center of the property, pool, and outdoor dining area. Snapper is a bit more secluded and seemed even closer to the Caribbean Sea.
Treasure Beach – Real Jamaica Meets Bohemian Lifestyle
Unlike the more popular towns of Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Negril, Treasure Beach is a community-based tourism destination located in the southern parish of St. Elizabeth. A local organization describes it as a community “involved and active in local sustainable development.”
It could be described as a place where real Jamaica meets the bohemian lifestyle. You’re just as likely to find tourists going for a morning run on its quiet roads as you would a local fisherman heading out for the day’s catch.
The pace is slow, the tourists mix just fine with the locals, the community prides itself on not being the typical “tourist trap” and an afternoon walk to a local store to buy a few traditional Jamaican snacks and beverages is welcome, even encouraged.
Things to Do While Staying in Treasure Beach
We realize this list may not appeal to everyone. In addition to the activities described below, our family felt comfortable taking local taxis into a few towns, bought fruits from local markets and from street stalls, took walks to Gee Wiz, a nearby Ital restaurant, and visited several nearby shops.
Here is a list of things to do while you’re staying in Treasure Beach.
Splash and Swing at YS Falls
This “nature-based attraction” is also in the parish of St. Elizabeth. The many waterfalls, natural spring pool, beautiful gardens, and other attractions make it a must-do and why it is at the top of our list. Check out the photos and videos below.
Eat Lunch–and Dinner–at Jack Sprat
You know what they say–if the locals eat there, then you should too. The menu includes a range of seafood dishes, fried or jerk chicken, burgers, wings, pizza and more. Great food, cold drinks, local beer, great service, beachside, smooth reggae–need we say more?
Take a Trip to the Capital City of Black River
If you like to learn more about the local way of life, I always recommend safe and smart exploration of a nearby city. This is your chance to visit a local grocery store to buy snacks, juice, eggs, and any other items you will prepare in your temporary home.
While in Black River, you’ll get a chance to mingle with local Jamaicans and you’ll probably also notice the fading but still striking Georgian, Victorian Jamaican Georgian, British Colonial, and Jamaican Vernacular architectural styles of many of the old buildings. We learned that Black River is the first town in Jamaica to get electricity, have a telephone exchange, and the first registered motor vehicle.
Go on a Black River Safari Tour
The Black River safari is a boat tour on Jamaica’s largest navigable river and through its largest wetlands. You’ll glide through a majestic and serene mangrove forest and on the way you may spot a sunbathing crocodile or two. These wetlands are home to over 100 species of birds.
This tour is offered by several companies but I recommend Captain Joseph Brown of One Love Boat Tours.
Make a Stop at Floyd’s Pelican Bar
Located about half of a mile from the coast and built on a sand bar in the Caribbean Sea, this restaurant and bar have to be seen to be believed.
Spend the Last Full day at the Beach
Taking in the final hours of a beach vacation at the beach allows me to savor the overall experience. So, I recommend spending the last full day at the beach–preferably the beach in front of Jack Sprat for easy access to good food, cold drinks, and my fellow Jamaicans.
After a tough year, our family vacation in Treasure Beach was absolutely divine.
Our cottage by the sea provided the visual and auditory backdrop to bring us back to a hopeful view of life. The tasty food, sorrel Red Stripe, and flowing piña coladas were the perfect complement to the easy-going feeling we quickly adapted.
Finally, the local beaches and slow walks through the Treasure Beach community were the real highlights of the trip for us.
I also loved that my children were able to see how “real Jamaicans” live while enjoying the natural wonders of the island. It won’t be our last time in Treasure Beach.