Welcome to Treasure Beach – Saint Elizabeth
As a long time north coast dweller I have always wanted to visit the south coast of Jamaica, or more specifically the area around Treasure Beach and Black River. So I recently took the opportunity to drive down to the parish of St. Elizabeth, fondly known St. Bess, the ‘Bread Basket of Jamaica’, to explore the area and celebrate a special occasion in the progress. Follow me on this adventure in the next few posts as we start to explore Saint Elizabeth!
Do Road: Driving to Treasure Beach
With consideration of the checking-in time at the accommodation, we had to make a decision of when to leave Ocho Rios to get across the island to Treasure Beach. It was a choice of leaving out in morning after the event, to drive the 3.5 hour (approx.) journey for the 3pm check in time (which although probably more practical, was a bit of an anti-climax to the day). Or leave out in the evening after the event had finished and just get there, when we get there.
We reasoned that if we did the latter, we would at least wake up in the morning and already be there. And so it was decided. We would leave in the evening after the event…
Many people may say that we were foolhardy to drive out into the unknown after dark and might I add in a huge downpour. But we were so determined to get there not even a flat tyre (tire) and a subsequent flat battery before we had even left Ocho Rios, could stop us from doing road that evening!
We used the Google Maps App to find our way there, as although I’m all for the no map method, navigating our way across the interior of the island in the dark wasn’t on our agenda for the night! We were offered 3 different options of how to get to Treasure Beach on the Google Maps App.
For reasons of speed and efficiency we chose to traverse the toll road from Mamme Bay / St. Ann’s Bay to Linstead, then drive through to Mandeville and down to Treasure Beach. However, right at the vital moment the app had no internet access and we missed the turn off on the toll road. So we actually came off at Spanish Town and had to do the long route!…
Needless to say we took our time driving on the spare tyre and finally made our way off the Toll Road. We then followed the App and drove through Mandeville and Junction, before we reached the smaller towns like Nain, on our descent down the other side into Treasure Beach. After winding our way across the island we finally reached our destination at just past midnight!
Welcome to Treasure Beach – St. Elizabeth
The first thing I noticed was that the south coast of Jamaica is on a different pace of life to the tourist hotspots of the north coast (Montego Bay and Ocho Rios), or the busy hub of Kingston, ‘town’. Untouched by the all-inclusives and chain hotels the south coast mainly belongs to the people. It seems freer, the people seem less uptight and suspicious than they appear to be the north coast.
The area known as ‘Treasure Beach’ actually spans four Jamaican coves: Billy’s Bay, Frenchman’s Bay, Calabash Bay and Great Pedro Bay. This region is dramatically reached by driving up and over the Santa Cruz Mountains, which reassuringly hug the whole area and create this secret little pocket away from the hub-bub of the rest of the island.
The Santa Cruz mountains also give shelter from the rainy weather fronts coming off the Atlantic Ocean, creating arid conditions with little rainfall and year round tropical temperatures of around 85°F, or 29°C. Which means you will unexpectedly see Cacti and Broad Acacia growing alongside farms which use guinea grass to keep the rich red dirt shaded and irrigation hoses to nourish the beautiful and bountiful fruits and vegetables, which are in high demand across the island.
Black River is further along the south coast moving west towards Sav-La-Mar and Negril on the Western Coast of Jamaica. The Black River is famous for its mangroves and resident crocodiles that can be witnessed in-situ, on a guided ‘river safari’. Time restrictions meant that we didn’t get to see as much of Black River as we wanted to, albeit for a wild goose chase to find The Pelican Bar, which lead us to a great beach front restaurant. But more about that in another post!
Things to See in Treasure Beach and Black River, Jamaica
As with every destination there are a few must-sees. You know the kind of spots that are on your bucket list for the area. This was my starter list for the surrounding areas around Treasure Beach and Black River, in the parish of St. Elizabeth:
- Floyds Pelican Bar
- Black River Guided ‘Safari Tour’
- Lovers Leap
- YS Falls
- Milk River Baths
- Maggoty and the Accompong Maroons
Follow the Sweet Jamaica blog for the next post in this series about our adventures in St.Bess!
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