Sunset at Treasure Beach.
The YS Falls.
A safari cruise.
David visits an island cruising to the pulse of the lilting rhythm of reggae welcome to Jamaica, mon.
Treasure Beach is a small village on the south-west coast of Jamaica in the Caribbean Sea, and is a tourism destination in the initial stages of development. Located in the parish of St Elizabeth, it is known across the island for having the most friendly and hard-working people in Jamaica.
Treasure Beach has four coves: Billy's Bay, Frenchman's Bay, Calabash Bay and Great Pedro Bay, and is physically different from most of Jamaica. It is protected from much of the rain by a mountain range and, as a result, produces dry savannah and cactus, rather than the lush greenery found elsewhere.
The reason for Treasure Beach's popularity is that, unlike the country's larger towns (which are alive with reggae and tourists), there is pretty much nothing happening there. It's totally laid-back and relaxed, but there are things you can do nearby if you get the urge to move.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Black River was a bustling port town, but now it's the sleepy home to 4000 people. It sits on the mouth of Jamaica's longest river, Black River, in the jade-blue waters of Black River Bay. A safari along the river takes about 40 minutes and it is full of interest. The Great Morass is a complex ecosystem with more than 100 bird species, crocodiles, red mangrove trees, bullrushes and salt grass. Boat captains are also tour guides, and they give light-hearted commentary about the history and ecology of the area.
About 20 minutes from Black River are the dramatic YS Falls. Hemmed in by limestone cliffs and trees full of climbing orchids, the eight cascades fall 40 metres into cool and inviting pools where you can swim and do Tarzan impressions. It's also a wonderful spot for a picnic. The falls are actually on private property and there is a small entry fee.
In a truly beautiful setting in the Siloah Valley are the Appleton sugar estate and rum factory. With the Nassau Mountains to the south and the escarpment of the Cockpits to the north, this place has been producing the famous Appleton rums since 1749. The smell of molasses hangs over the canefields, and if you take a guided tour of the distillery you can sample the rum and stay for lunch.
If you suffer vertigo, Lover's Leap is probably not the place for you to visit. It is where the Santa Cruz Mountains drop 520 metres onto jagged rocks, and legend has it that two young slaves were prevented from being lovers by the jealous owner of the girl. He plotted to sell her to another owner, but when the young ones discovered the plot, they chose to always be together and leapt off the cliffs into the savage seas.
The site is now privately owned and has a cactus and herb farm, children's play area, souvenir shop and restaurant, and from the red- and white-hooped lighthouse, you can enjoy superb views out to sea.
When it comes to places to stay, you may be surprised to learn that Jake's has been described as officially the coolest place to stay in the world and by Vogue as the chicest shack in the Caribbean.
Run by Jason Henzell, Jake's actually started out as a beach house built in 1941 by his grandfather. In 1993, the adjoining property came up for sale and Jason's mother decided to transform the old home into a restaurant. In 1994, she added two rooms, one to live in and one to rent, and each summer, the property has grown.
Jason was a banker in Montego Bay and initially wasn't totally agreeable about his sanctuary at Treasure Beach being invaded by tourists. (It is said his grandmother kept up a stream of bad press to national newspapers to keep visitors away!) These days, he is proud of Jakes, which began as budget accommodation and now attracts chic and wealthy guests. It is totally unpretentious, and that is the reason for its success. Famous people stay there and remain anonymous, and it is often used for fashion shoots.
The south-west coast of Jamaica.
Caribbean Destinations has five-night packages including transfers to Treasure Beach and accommodation at Jake's Hotel, starting at $660 per person, twin share.
Qantas flies daily to Los Angeles with connections to Miami. Return economy airfares start at $2069 from Perth, $2830 from the east coast and $3150 from Adelaide.
American Airlines connections to Montego Bay start at $795 per person.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Ph: (03) 9614 7144
Fax: (03) 9618 1199www.caribbeanislands.com.au
Jamaica Tourist Board: Ph: 0011 1 876 929 9200www.jamaicatravel.com
Black River Safaris
Ph: 0011 1 876 965 2513
Fax: 0011 1 876 965 0552
Qantas: Ph: 13 13 13
For a safe and healthy journey, talk to the travel doctor
: 1300 658 844 or visit traveldoctor.com.au