Is Treasure Beach for me?
Treasure Beach, home of community tourism, is a perfect destination for people looking for a quiet, peaceful community with plenty of cool-out spots along the Caribbean Sea, hammocks in the shade, and friendly people always willing to ‘reason’ (chat) with a new mind.
We are an alternative choice to the “typical” tourist hustle and bustle.
What is the feel of the area?
The Lonely Planet Guide to Jamaica describes us as
“…a gem for travelers in search of the off-beat. You won’t find a more authentically charming and relaxing place in Jamaica. Treasure Beach is the generic name given to four coves– Billy’s Bay, Frenchman’s Bay, Calabash Bay, and Great Bay -that stretch for several miles…their rocky headlands separate romantically lonesome, dark coral-coloured sand beaches.”
Is it safe?
We are a small town and like anywhere else in the world that means we have a lower crime rate than the bigger cities. It is OK to walk the streets day or night and passing residents will usually offer a friendly greeting.
However, this does not mean to be careless. Use the same precautions you would anywhere you are traveling. Lock your doors when you leave, don’t flash a large wad of bills while paying for a small tab, do not invite strangers into your place, if there is a safe at your property use it, etc.
Your housekeeper or caretaker can be a good source of information and advice if you have any specific questions.
How do I drive there from Montego Bay?
When you leave out of the airport enter the round-about. Take the 3rd left exit out of the round-about and continue to the end of the road. At the T take a left. This will put you on the ‘Hip Strip’ of Montego Bay where you will pass lots of duty free shops, restaurants, hotels, etc.
Continue straight on this road until you come to the first set of lights. At this set of lights, take a right passing by Kentucky Fried Chicken. Continue on this road straight through three more sets of lights. At the 4th set of lights take a left. Continue to the end of this road passing a large shopping center on the right and take a right at the set of lights at the end of the road.
After taking that right continue through three sets of lights. At the fourth set of lights take a left which will take you up Long Hill. Do not follow the signs to Negril.
As you pass a large orange grove on the right you will go over a bridge and come to a road to the left. STAY TO THE RIGHT heading towards Savannah La Mar. Do not head to Bethel Town.
Continue on through Haddo and on into Whithorn. In Whithorn you want to take a right heading towards Ferris Cross. You will go down a good sized hill with a beautiful view of sugar cane fields on the right. At the bottom of the hill stay straight and do not take the right. Continue on until you come to a T in the road in Ferris Cross and take a left heading towards Black River.
Continue on through Belmont, Whitehouse, and into the Parish of St. Elizabeth. At the round-about stay to your right heading towards Black River.
Once in Black River take a left at the one-way street and then take the first right. You will wind past the market. Stay to the right and eventually come to another T. Take the left and go over the bridge. Take your third right at the Jack Sprat restaurant sign which will be about 3 – 4 miles out of town and from there the signs are good directing you to Treasure Beach.
The trick is to stop and ask a lot of questions, and when asking, ask for directions to the next town on the map. Many people do not drive and may not know how to get to Treasure Beach but will know how to get to the next town.
Good luck and DRIVE ON THE LEFT!
How do I drive there from Kingston?
When you leave out of the airport you will almost immediately come to a round-about (rotary). Stay to the left and this will put you on a causeway. At the end of the causeway you will again bear to the left. Stay on this main road following signs to Spanish Town and Mandeville for a while. You will be going through lots of lights and intersections, but just keep on straight. You will come to a toll highway which will have signs to Mandeville. Go on this road. You will be exiting the highway on your right. After you exit the highway you will come to a round-about. Take the 2nd left in the round-about following signs to Mandeville. This will put you on the next toll highway. You will travel on this highway for about 10 miles before coming to the toll booth. At the end the highway will merge into the ‘old road’. From here on in the roads are well marked and you just continue to head towards Mandeville.
Stay on the highway past Mandeville heading down Spur Tree Hill. When you reach Gutters there will be a Texaco Station on the right and a turn to Junction, St. Elizabeth on your left. Take that left (it is well marked with signs). Follow that road for a few miles. You will go under a bridge(train tracks), shortly after look for the sign for Alpart on your left indicating the turn on your right. Take that right heading towards Alpart. When you come to the T in the road take a left. Drive past Alpart and into the district of Nain. You will come to an intersection. Just drive straight through the crossroads and continue heading towards the town of Junction.
After a few miles you will come to an intersection where one road Vs off to the left and the main road will turn slightly to the right with a restaurant located on the left after the V. Immediately, you will come to a T in the road. Take a right which again is in the direction of Junction. You now stay on this road taking you through Junction, Top Hill, and Southfield. After Southfield you start to head down the Santa Cruz Mountains. When you are at the bottom of the mountain you will come to a crossroads with a Texaco station on the right. Take your left there heading towards Treasure Beach. This road will take you right into Treasure Beach.
How’s the weather?
85F (30C), sunny, with a light breeze from the East. Same as yesterday, same as tomorrow.
While the above statement is true 90% of the time:
- April /May and September/ October are typically known as rainy season
- June through November is hurricane season
- October/November and April/ May can offer calmer sea conditions
- Weather is unpredictable
You can find up to date information at the weather channel’s web site.
When is hurricane season?
The official hurricane season is June 1 through November 30. We would recommend you take the extra precaution of obtaining travel insurance when booking flights during this time in case travel plans are interrupted by a storm. Before you travel, you may want to check out the Weather Channel’s Tropical Update for possible impending storms.
How’s the beach?
Interspersed throughout six miles of coastline lie sandy beaches, private coves, and rocky shorelines conducive for long walks. (Be sure to bring appropriate beach shoes.)
There are four public beaches well suited for swimming, snorkeling, and body-surfing. Depending on the sea conditions and the season, the waves can vary from six inches to six feet. The south coast seas tend to be rougher than the north coast.
“That its beaches tend to be less sprawling than those of other island resorts is more than compensated for by the fact that they are also virtually deserted”
– American Way
How’s the snorkeling/SCUBA?
Snorkeling here offers a variety of colorful fish and coral reef to explore, though professional divers may find them somewhat disappointing.
Keep in mind that the snorkeling is dependent on sea conditions. Ask at your villa for good locations, however, if the sea is rough there will be no good locations for snorkeling.
There is no SCUBA outfit in Treasure Beach. The nearest licensed operators are in Negril and Montego Bay.
How’s the food?
There’s something here for everyone. Fresh seafood is our specialty, however, everything from Jamaican fare to burgers, pizza and exceptional award winning cuisine is available.
Prices range from US$6 – US$35 per meal with the average price being around US$10. Red Stripes run about US$2.00-$3.00 and mixed drinks US$4.00. The average cost of a bottle of good Jamaican rum is about US$12 in a grocery store
How’s the drinking water?
Safe to drink. The vast majority of Treasure Beach is connected to the national water supply which is treated with chlorine for safety. If you are still hesitant to drink the water, bottled water is available in most every shop.
A reminder: This area is aptly named the desert coast and records the least amount of rainfall island-wide. We ask that you please keep this in mind and help us conserve this precious resource.
What currency is used and where can I exchange it?
The Jamaican dollar is the official currency. Click here for the current exchange rate and quick reference guide.
Other commonly exchanged currencies are the US dollar, Canadian Dollar, British Pound Sterling, and the Euro. Other currencies are frowned upon and may be difficult if not impossible to exchange.
You can change money at the airport, banks, and Cambios (official money exchanges). A few places in Treasure Beach exchange cash –ask at your accommodation for the closest one to you.
Credit cards are not widely accepted, with only a few restaurants and attractions honoring them. However, you can obtain a cash advance on Visa or MasterCard at most banks, but not with AMEX or Discover.
There is an ATM at the Kingfisher Plaza plugged into the Multilink network and an ATM at Jack Sprat plugged into the Cirrus network. The next nearest ATM’s are located in Black River (30 minute drive) or Southfield (20 minute drive). There is a machine near the arrivals pick-up waiting area at the Montego Bay airport. It is plugged into the Cirrus networkand can give advances on VISA and MasterCard. All local ATMs dispense Jamaican currency only.
The nearest banks are Scotia Bank and Sagicor in Black River. Their hours are approximately M-F, 9-2:30.
Any taxes I should know about?
There’s a 16.5% GCT (General Consumption Tax) on all items and most services. However, most businesses include the tax in their prices.
Does one tip?
Businesses here have come to appreciate the North American custom of tipping. Some places do add a set percentage to the bill, which is usually noted.
The rule of thumb for tipping staff at a villa is 15% of the cost of the villa.
What about vendors and hustlers?
Since all beaches here are public, no one is restricted from walking them. This means a few people use them as their places of business. You will more than likely be approached by one of these vendors and asked to look at their wares.
If you are interested, by all means have a look and happy negotiating. If you are not in a shopping mood, let them know. A friendly but firm “No Thanks” will usually suffice, but you may need to be as persistent as they are.
How do I get around?
You have a few options here. Most everything in Treasure Beach can be accessed by foot, bicycle, or scooter which can be rented. For longer journeys taxis, public transport, car rental, or tour operators can get you there.
Check out our Activities Page for further information on options for getting around and where to go.
What is the dress code?
Overall, casual and comfortable are the fashion statements around here. In a shop or restaurant, shoes and shirts are usually appreciated, but nowhere are jacket and tie required.
At the beach, swimsuit is the obvious choice. Nude bathing is frowned upon by most Jamaicans, so we ask that you either refrain or find a very private spot.
What about insects?
Being a tropical island we do have bugs. However, our constant breeze and dry climate, unlike that of the wetter parts of the island, help to control the population.
That being said, we still recommend bringing insect repellent.
What night life is available?
There are several bars and restaurants to choose from, a few of which have music, dancing, billiards, dominoes, etc. There are always occasional street dances. How do you find out about them? If you stay within a mile radius of one, you can’t miss it. Follow your ears or ask any staff member of the place you are staying. Check out our Calendar of Events to find out what is happening while you are here.
But perhaps the best activity is sitting on your verandah, watching the stars, thinking about all of the nothing you’re going to do tomorrow.
“…a remote and sleepy Jamaican town where hanging out is the order of the day.”
– American Way
What about ganja?
Ganja is found throughout Jamaica, and Treasure Beach is no exception. However not everyone in TB is involved with or approves of it. Nonetheless, it can be readily purchased. But keep in mind although the laws have recently been relaxed it is still illegal to possess ganja. Possessing less than 2 ounces is considered a petty offense that does not go on one’s permanent criminal record. We recommend if you do imbibe do it in non-public places.
What about cigarettes?
It is against the law to smoke cigarettes in any public place including restaurants and bars. Most accommodations also restrict smoking inside their homes. The best advice – take it outside.
What language is used?
The Queen’s English is the official language of Jamaica. It is taught in schools and used at any formal gathering. However, the everyday language is called patios, from the French word for dialect. It’s English, Spanish, French, and African all blended into one and comes off as a colorful, flowing language, nice to listen to –but sometimes a challenge to understand.
How can I call/fax/email from Treasure Beach?
Check with your cell phone provider if you are taking your phone with you to see about roaming charges for international use. Digicel and Flow our two local cell phone providers offers a card to purchase for $1250 JA which will enable you a total of 660 minutes for Digicel and 800 minutes for Flow of phone calls to any cell/land line phones in America, Canada, China, Hong Kong (Digicel only), and India and land line phones in England and Spain. Most everyone has a Digicel or Flow phone here which you may be able to borrow to use to call international. Or just ask to pay for a phone card and borrow someone’s cell phone to enter the credit into the phone and make your call.
Most accommodations offer free Wi-Fi service. The BREDS office located in the Kingfisher Plaza offers an Internet Café and fax services.
Can I rent a cell phone in Jamaica?
There are a few persons who may rent you a phone. Ask where you are staying and they can most likely assist you.
Is high speed Internet available in Treasure Beach?
High speed access is now available in Treasure Beach. Check with your particular accommodation as many now offer it. The average speed is 4 MB – 8 MB.
What about medical care?
Jamaica is a developing nation. In line with this is the level of medical care available. Be sure to bring along any medicines, especially prescription drugs, you think you may need while here.
In case of emergency:
- Dr. Elliott has office hours in Crossroads (15 minute drive away) on Monday from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Wednesday 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Friday 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and on Saturday 9 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 876-545-6217.
- The nearest private hospital is Hargreaves Memorial Hospital, one hour away in Mandeville. 876-962-2040.
- Most accommodations have a doctor who they can call in case of an emergency.
- Worth nothing, there are no poisonous snakes, insects, etc. or rabies found on the island. There are some insects with painful bites like scorpions, 40-leggers, and sea nettles, but they are rare.
What kind of electricity is used?
110V, 50 Hz with a standard three prong north American plug. The only difference between JA and US/Canada is the frequency, so any appliance (except clocks) will work.
European’s will need to bring an adapter (they are hard to find here) for conversion.