A Look Back: A Day in Treasure Beach

There was a time…a long time…when I didn’t venture too far out of Negril.  Aside from frequent visits to see friends in Orange Hill and Little Bay, I was pretty well rooted where I was.    Mostly it was due to my version of “sand gravity” – but when I arrived on island in 2007 looking forward to a two month stay that year I made myself a promise to try to explore this great island with a little more vigor.

Then one day the posse woke early and piled in the bus and we headed south – to Treasure Beach.  Now, I love Niah and I love his bus – but the long trip was brutal on most people’s backs, stomachs and psyches.  The drive itself is quite beautiful – we pass through towns like Bluefields and Black River – we drive along the exquisite south coast, passing by tremendous and elegant homes and gated communities.  The feel is very Mediterranean like and you are driving along the sea most of the way.  Two hours after leaving Negril we jumped off the bus at Jakes – and helped ourselves.

Chillin' at Jakes

Jakes is one of the premier resorts in Treasure Beach and we settled in there for a while.  They have a small but very pretty salt water pool – a nice enough bar and a really nice hang out area with some man-made beach and gorgeous views.  It was a very civilized place for us to rest after the long bus ride.  We order lunch – everyone enjoys an excellent meal and after paying the bill we walk towards the launching point where we’ll be meeting our boat and boat captain for the ride to Pelican Bar.

Walking Towards the Beach

The walk is lovely and at times a bit “hikey”…we walk through the rest of Jake’s property marveling at the exquisite villas that dot the shoreline.  We come upon a tree – twisted and gnarly and perfect for climbing and perching which, for those of us who like to climb and perch do.  The tree is like a sculpture and is fascinating – leafless and it seems to be dead yet it is rooted there in the sand.  And we mush on.

The sand in Treasure Beach is brown or chocolate as Jessie likes to say.  So unlike the fine white sand in Negril these beaches are volcanic in nature – but the sea is just as lovely though it seems a bit more murky due to the darker sand color.  We plop ourselves right outside a small wooden bar named “Eggy’s” – its proprietor Ryan promises to watch over some of the posse’s belongings.  Ted arrives on cue with his dog and we get in the boat.

Posse on the Boat – Photo by Jeanie Ockuly

We are a larger group than Ted is accustomed to and the boat has rules.  This is a simple fishing boat after all – we must not stand up – the “larger” of our posse must sit in the back and we should try our best not to move around too much.  Well, it’s pretty hard to contain the posse and Ted has to admonish us on a few different occasions but none of us want to fall into the drink – so we sit and watch.

We sail somewhat close to shore giving us a great view of the coast from the sea.  We see grand homes and I take note of the stark difference of the shoreline here as compared to western Jamaica.  It is almost desert like and in the place of hard rock and lava the rocky shores here seem more fragile and crumbly.  It is also far less developed than Negril – when sailing the shoreline either up the cliffs or down the beach you see one structure after another in Negril, here the structures are sparse and spread further apart – we see small clearing of what looks to be pristine beach but no access, not that we can see.  It makes me think of Little Bloody Bay and how that appears to not have access either – but I know different, I know the “secret” and I come to realize that locals and regulars on this part of the island probably know how to reach that perfect little piece of beach.  It makes me smile.

Dolphins!

We start to head away from the shore, deeper into the sea when all of a sudden shrieks of delight start to come from the back of the boat.  Ted cuts the engines and there they are – a pod of about eight or ten dolphins breaching and frolicking and swimming so close to the boat you could almost reach out and touch them.  The posse is stoked with excitement, lurching over the edge of the boat much to Ted’s dismay.  Once all the photos that can be taken are taken Ted starts the motor and off we go.

Pelican Bar

There in the distance, looking like something out of “Water World” sits the now world-famous Pelican Bar.  It gets its name from the flock of Pelicans that perch on the wooden posts sticking up from the sea next to the structure.  It appears to be built right in the middle of the sea but in fact sits on a sandbar – right in the middle of the sea.  The structure is rustic to say the least – it looks as though it is put together with Tinker Toys – or spit and plywood – or hope and a dream.  We get off the boat and climb the sturdy but oddly spaced ladder-like staircase into a thatched hut.  There within the hut is the “bar” and the “kitchen” – the kitchen will cook whatever is caught – fish, lobster, crab – and serve it up for you.  There is a back deck down an equally sturdy but uneven ladder-like stair case where you can sit on the plywood, take in the sights, eat drink and be merry.

The Rotten Posse

Our posse is very, very good at being merry.  We sing, we dance, we laugh.  We spend the entire afternoon there in this other-worldly place in the middle of the ocean.  We watch a glorious sunset from our perch on the “deck” of the Pelican Bar – the orange light cast from a setting globe illuminating our bronzed skin…after a while we make our way back to the boat and prepare for the ride back to Treasure Beach.

Sunset at Pelican Bar

We motor back to darkening skies singing and laughing the whole way.  As we approach the shore we do not miss the fact that everything is DARK.  Well, it’s not as built up as Negril of course.  That and the current is out.  Eggy’s is lit somewhat with lanterns and candles we spend a few more minutes there,  those who have left things gather them and we bid our goodbyes to Ryan.  The posse hikes off again, this time in the pitch black, down the beach and to the road.  I look up and realize it’s a new moon – the sky is overflowing with stars and they almost seem to be raining down upon us.  We arrive at Jack Sprats salty, sandy and hungry.

Miracles of miracles – this place not only has a bathroom but it has a shower!!!  The girls in the posse pile into the bathroom, strip down and pile into the shower.  At the risk of making this sound like a “Girls Gone Wild Video” I’ll just say that we were so happy to hit fresh water we didn’t wait our turns – we just shared.

The pizza at Jack Sprats is wonderful – not by New York standards wonderful but great for Jamaica.  We ordered all kinds, my favorite was the jerk sausage.  Along with the pizza we treated ourselves to delicious conch soup – no skimping on the conch and not filled with hockey pucks either!

While the original plan had called for an overnight stay this is scrapped in that there simply was no decent place for all of us to stay overnight.  So back into the bus with us and the posse finally quiets down – one pee pits stop within the gates and into the bush of one of those swank gated communities.  Discomfort aside I fall asleep waking at the gate of our yard.

Back in Negril a few days later a rumor gets spread that the posse was thrown out of Treasure Beach.  I am here to say unequivocally – not true.  We’re the posse and we’re enthusiastic but as far as I know, we are welcome back anytime.

With this in mind, it is my full intention to make it back to Treasure Beach again next year but this time with real room reservations and a plan to stay for a couple of days.  This sweet little community reminded me so much of the Negril I first met twenty-five years ago.  My appetite has been whetted and I’m down for a full on adventure – posse in tow.

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3 Responses to A Look Back: A Day in Treasure Beach

  1. Donna says:

    LOVE all the HAPPY faces!
    Jim and I found that same tree. One of the nicest pictures of us, is in that tree.
    Thank-you!

  2. Hi,
    Love your piece about Treasure Beach – Here’s our latest article on Jake’s in Treasure Beach.
    For your viewing pleasure….
    http://www.valleyadvocate.com/article.cfm?aid=13656

    Beth Shepard
    beth@bethshepard.com

  3. Audrey Wright says:

    We went on a Black River/Pelican Bar tour with Ron and Peggy a couple years ago. Not the tourist way as some would do…but the Ron and Peggy way. When I saw the boat heading our direction…it looked like it was skimming on it’s ass end over the water, my heart did double beats…wait…it was skimming on it’s ass end!!! Anyways, it took us through the Black River, spying some crocks, and onward to Pelican Bar. What an adventure!! Mother nature is breath taking isn’ she!? A worthwhile trip for sure!

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