Treasure Beach, Jamaica: this bohemian beach town boasts quiet coves, eclectic boutique hotels and a bar on a sandbar one mile into the ocean.
Last updated: August 2023
If you’re looking for an island escape where you can truly get away from it all, look no further than Jamaica’s sleepy, undeveloped southwest coast. Here, miles away from the nearest all-inclusive, lies a quiet gem of a fishing village called Treasure Beach. This under-the-radar strip of sand is a winding two and a half hour drive from Montego Bay, a four hour drive from Ocho Rios, or a three hour drive from Kingston. And well worth the effort. Along the way you’ll even be privy to a glimpse of Jamaica most visitors don’t see – the island’s verdant, inland countryside.
Expect a mellow, friendly and above all authentic vibe at this off-the-beaten-path destination dotted with eclectic boutique accommodations, casual eateries serving up local fare with love and plenty of near-empty coves to catch a stunning sunset. Plus: a bucket list bar perched on wooden stilts nearly a mile into the ocean, only accessible by boat.
Ahead, our top picks for your perfect Treasure Beach getaway – best restaurants and bars to boutique hotels and things to do – where nothing but bare feet and serious R&R await.
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Pro Tip: it’s best to buy your travel insurance policy within 14 days of making your initial trip deposit (like when you buy your flights or book your hotel).
Treasure Beach, Jamaica Travel Guide: Best Things to Do
Hit the beach.
A mix of golden-brown sand and rocky shores make up the six mile coast that hugs five quiet coves: Billy’s Bay, Frenchman’s Beach, Calabash Bay, Old Wharf Beach (known locally as “Sally’s Beach”) and Great Bay. Whether walking, swimming, sunning or sunsetting, these coves are often near-deserted – don’t be surprised if you have an entire stretch of sand all to yourself.
Take a bike tour.
Rent a set of wheels and cycle to Lover’s Leap (where it’s said two star-crossed lovers tragically lept to their death rather than be separated by a jealous plantation owner), take an early morning ride to crocodile-famed Black River or embark on a Farm Tour where you can meet local farmers and even taste what’s in-season – hopefully, the region’s famed watermelon and cantaloupe.
Enjoy a seaside massage, body scrub, mani/pedi, herbal steam bath and more at Driftwood Spa at Jake’s Hotel, utilizing fresh ingredients (think: coffee, coconut, mango, seaweed and aloe) from the property’s gardens.
Or, bring the spa to you. Wise Wellness’ mobile pop-up spa brings relaxing massages, facials, body scrubs and wraps – even waxing – to your private villa or Airbnb.
Step into whimsical Callaloo Butik for locally made wares ranging from colorful dresses, shirts and throw pillows to woven hats and baskets; statement jewelry and artwork to hand-carved wooden souvenirs and artisan soaps. You can find the beloved made-in-Jamaica brand in select retail shops throughout the country, though the designer – Nateisha Williams – is native to Treasure Beach. Making this quirky flagship a must-stop while in town.
Take a day trip.
From Treasure Beach you can easily arrange excursions to nearby Black River for a safari cruise through vast, protected mangroves – where you’re bound to spot everything from egrets to red-footed coots to crocodiles.
Pass through the two and a half mile Bamboo Avenue – an enchanting, bamboo arched “tunnel” – to reach YS Falls: site of a cascading, seven-tiered waterfall boasting ethereal swimming holes, rope swings and even an adventurous zipline course rising over the jungle canopy.
A dramatic 1,700+ drop to the sea below yields breathtaking panoramic views at Lover’s Leap: a mountaintop lookout with a storied history. Vistas aside, the site further boasts the highest elevated lighthouse in the Western Hemisphere, plus a restaurant and bar that happens to turn into the town hot spot on Sunday nights. Reach the site in under thirty minutes by car or for the adventurous – arrive on bike, hike down the steep mountainside and enjoy a boat ride back to town.
Of course, no trip to Jamaica would be complete without a visit to historic Appleton Estate: the oldest and largest rum distillery in the country since 1749. Here, you’ll take a sensorial tour of the sprawling estate, learn about the production process from sugar cane to cup – you can even try your hand at a centuries-old sugar cane juice extraction method – and sip three premium Appleton blends in the tasting room.
All above destinations are located within one hour’s drive from Treasure Beach. Timed right, hitting more than one in a single day is entirely doable.
Treasure Beach, Jamaica Travel Guide: Best Restaurants
Get the ultimate local experience at Smurf’s. This laid-back spot is just a few minutes walk inland from the beach, where locals and tourists alike gather daily to enjoy Miss Dawn’s fresh-roasted coffee, fruit shakes and unfussy breakfast plates.
Jerk chicken pizza, freshly grilled seafood, an ice cream counter and breezy, waterfront seating all make this neighborhood hot spot your go-to for a chill evening. Plus: a rum bar, reggae music and plenty of Red Stripe. They deliver too.
A ten minute drive from the center of town, come to this unfussy oceanfront eatery for what else? Freshly caught and grilled lobster. Think: buttery lobster tails, hearty Jamaica-style lobster rolls, garlic lobster…you get the drift. Plus, satisfying comfort food like fried chicken and curry conch, all paired with Jamaica’s famed bammy (a type of chewy bread made with cassava) and festivals (slightly sweet, fried bread sticks). Wash down with a cold beer or rum cocktail from the bar next door.
Tucked into the countryside, this hidden gem is easily worth the under five minute drive from Frenchman’s Bay. Expect a range of excellent Jamaican and American dishes – the jerk chicken is divine – plus a full service bar, swimming pool and swim-up bar. Call ahead and they’ll even arrange roundtrip transport.
Italian cuisine is the specialty at, as the name suggests, this low-key spot right in the middle of the Treasure Beach strip. Given the chef is Italian, it’s no wonder the heaping plates of pasta and perfectly prepared pizzas are the real deal. Tip: you can order drinks here but you can also BYOB from the shop next door.
Gee Wiz Vegetarian Restaurant
Healthy Caribbean fare counting smoothies, salads, soups, veggies and fish are on the menu at this affordable, friendly and casual café. Open for lunch and early dinner.
Treasure Beach, Jamaica Travel Guide: Best Beach Bars
Floyd’s Pelican Bar
It may as well be sacrilege to come to Jamaica’s southwest coast and not experience Floyd’s Pelican Bar. Located on a sandbar almost a full mile into the ocean, this hand-built driftwood hut easily lays claim as the world’s coolest, most unique and wildly unforgettable beach bar.
Getting there is half the fun, requiring a 25 minute boat ride each way from Treasure Beach. Arrange with your hotel/accommodation or you can do what we did – just walk down to the beach at Frenchman’s Bay and ask around. Everyone knows Pelican Bar and it won’t take long to find a captain more than willing to take you. Not for the faint of heart, be forewarned: your ride comes in the form of a small, motorized fishing boat that – unlike the unhurried pace of town – moves with surprising speed. Get ready to hang on (especially amidst the often-choppy water) and stay alert. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a school of dolphins swimming right by you on your way over.
Once at the bar, you can sip Red Stripe beer or rum punch, dig into freshly grilled lobster or fish (best to order with your boat captain ahead of time), join the locals in a game of dominoes, or take a dip in the surrounding shallow waters. TIP: Floyd’s Pelican Bar is cash only and the single eco-toilet is equipped to handle #1’s only, so plan accordingly.
Consider this laid-back oceanfront locale on Frenchman’s Bay your perfect (yet unhurried) front-row seat to catch a stunning sunset – Red Stripe or rum punch in hand. Plus: casual Jamaican fare, sports screens and live music on the weekends.
Located just steps down the beach from Frenchman’s, this colorful beach shack is your go-to for cold beer, fresh seafood, chatting with locals and of course, stellar ocean views.
Part of Jake’s Hotel, head over to Dougie’s in the morning, afternoon or evening for everything from smoothies, beer and mixed drinks to card games and backgammon, all while chatting with fellow boho travelers. With views of Jake’s pool and the Caribbean sea beyond, this is yet another perfect place to catch a memorable Treasure Beach sunset.
Treasure Beach, Jamaica Travel Guide: Best Boutique Hotels
Jake’s Treasure Beach
Choose from quirky hotel rooms, oceanfront bungalows, 2 and 3-bedroom cottages or airy villas at Jake’s: the original Treasure Beach stay that kicked off the craze for rustic-Caribbean cool on Jamaica’s southwest coast.
Katamah Beachfront Guesthouse
Katamah Beachfront Guesthouse offers a beachfront collection of Moroccan-inspired suites, cabins and cottages perched right on Frenchman’s Bay. The ultimate in bohemian-chic, this spot is conveniently situated a stone’s throw from pretty much all of the action in Treasure Beach.
Sunset Resort and Villas
Tropical chic rooms and villas, friendly staff and spectacular oceanfront views all make for a welcoming stay at Sunset Resort and Villas. Plus: farm-to-table cuisine from the on-site restaurant & bar (where breakfast is included daily), a swimming pool and several lounger-equipped terraces for sunbathing, sunsets and star-gazing.