Isolated from the rest of the island by the Santa Cruz mountains, which create the area's distinct coastal desert environment by capturing the westbound rainfall, Treasure Beach is a catch-all name for a series of bays and fishing villages that extend from Fort Charles at the greater community's western edge, to Billy's Bay, Frenchman's Bay, and Great Bay on the eastern edge of the community. Treasure Beach prides itself on offering a different kind of tourism than that found in Jamaica's more built-up tourist centers. Local ownership of the guesthouses and restaurants is more the rule than the exception, and it's impossible not to interact with Jamaicans in a more substantial context than being served your cocktail.
The earth in St. Elizabeth is a deep red, and the people, thanks to a mix of Scottish and African blood, also have a reddish complexion, often with striking blue or green eyes. These Jamaicans are commonly referred to as "red" by the rest of the island's population, with typical disregard for innuendos or connotations outsiders might deem politically incorrect. In spite of St. Elizabeth receiving the least rainfall on the island, the parish is known as Jamaica's "breadbasket," not for any grain produced there per se, but mainly for vast quantities of vegetables it sends across the island.
Many of the bays have decent swimming areas, but it's best to inquire with locals about the safety of jumping in the water at any particular point until you get accustomed to the area. Remain vigilant of rip tides and strong currents.
Lashings Boutique Hotel & Villas (from US$66) has five double occupancy rooms with king-size beds, ceiling fans, en suite bathrooms and Wi-Fi. A two-bedroom penthouse apartment on the top level has a large outdoor living area, and a king bed in each room, one of which can be separated into two twins. A five-bedroom villa (US$500/night) below the main hotel block has one king-size bed and four queen-size beds.
77 West (US$130) is a five-unit boutique hotel built on a bluff overlooking a protected cove in Billy's Bay, Treasure Beach. The property is centered around a four-foot-deep pool surrounded by a large sunbathing deck with the rooms perched a few steps higher overlooking the sea. Rooms have minimalist furnishings and decor, with polished concrete floors, ceiling fans and A/C. Louvered windows open on three sides to take advantage of the sea breeze.
Coquina is a three-bedroom beachfront villa on Great Pedro Bay, the eastern most of a string of coves together known as Treasure Beach. Coquina is set back from the water, separated from the beach by a sloping lawn and Blue Marlin, a four-bedroom sister villa that can be rented together for larger groups. The villas are situated on a 2.5-acre property with lovely gardens and a gazebo at the edge of the sand.
Located on one of the most pristine beaches in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, this art deco home built in the 1950s, offers breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea and the Great Pedro Bluff. The bumpy track leading to the villa may at first appear to be somewhat rustic but it ensures peace and privacy as well as adding to the quiet charm.
Serene, peaceful oceanfront villa with private beach fit for a Greek God
Calabash House (US$85/95 low/high season per room, or US$340/US$360 low/high season for entire house) is a four-bedroom cottage directly on Calabash Bay. Bedrooms in the main house have standing fans and air-conditioning, with hot water in the bathrooms produced by instant electric water heaters. A housekeeper tidies up during and a cook can be arranged to prepare breakfast and dinner (additional US$25 daily per person).
Taino Cove (cell 876/845-6103, www.tainocove.com, US$100\150) is an eight-bedroom boutique hotel located at the far eastern corner of Treasure Beach. Bedrooms have queen-size or double beds, overlook the sea and pool area, and have tile flooring, comfortable linens, and wooden ceilings in the suites. Owned by Winnie Hylton, the large property features a common area on the ground floor of the main building and a pool with an adjacent bar and restaurant. Meals are prepared to order.
Marblue Villa Suites (US$129-285) is an attractive seafront property located on a quiet, windswept stretch of beach along Calabash Bay offering junior, villa, and honeymoon categories. The well-appointed suites have air-conditioning, CD players, fans, attractive decor, and full, king-size, or queen-size beds. Nice sitting areas with day beds overlook one of two pools on the property from the veranda or pool deck.
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