Monday, November 2, 2009

Pelican Bar, Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Earlier this year, I was in Jamaica for a protracted period of time. I had been working hard and was tired and quite worn down. My sister, who lives in Jamaica and is a lover of all things from the land of wood and water (Usain Bolt especially) invited me to spend a weekend in Treasure Beach with her with a couple of her friends. Saffrey had been doing a job in Treasure Beach and had come to know it quite well. So I borrowed my Dad's car, and set off from Kingston through the shockigly unsigned wilds of Clarendon and Mandeville.

Saffrey was staying in a cottage on the beach, and after some hesitation on my part, she managed to convince me to take a pirogue out to Pelican Bar with her and her friends. We were to have lunch there, and really, I just HAD to see it.

Treasure Beach is a strange sort of place. There's the gorgeous hotel, Jake's, run by the Henzell Family, and from what I could tell, not a whole lot more. It's at the bottom of a very steep and precipitous hill. In places it drops sharply into the sea over craggy rocks, and in other spots there's sandy beaches that slope gently into that archetypal blue Caribbean Sea.

It was a gorgeous day - the sea so blue, the sky so blue. Saffrey in a good mood, me - kind of waiting to be impressed; Kimmy and her boys in a state of excitement. And soon I understood why. It seemed that it was impossible to go to Pelican Bar without coming upon a school of dolphins. Now, to me, dolphins are like fireworks and steelpan - I never tire of experiencing that giggly grinning and skinning thrill of being in the midst of squeaking, speeding school of dolphins! They stayed with us for several miles, I think. And then there, off in the distance, in the middle of the sea (as far as I could tell) appeared some sort of shack - the kind of thing you would have seen on "The Blue Lagoon", or some Hollywood movie about castaways or shipwrecked sailors.

As we got closer, I realised the structure wasn't quite in the middle of the sea - it was in a sort of shallow area that extended like a sea peninsula out from the mainland behind a reef. But that notwithstanding, it was still magical. Very Robinson Crusoe.

Truth be told, though, the food was kind of junky. Regular Jamaican by-the-sea fare. Brown stews, steamed or eshoveitched fish and lobster with rice. Red stripes and tings and pepsis. I wouldn't bother to go there for the food. It was more expensive than I would want if you factor in the cost of the boat ride (nearly an hour each way). But you know, you just can't beat the novelty of the whole experience - the blue sea, the sky, the dolphins, the Robinson Crusoe shack in the middle of the sea. Make a day of it and pretend you're a castaway living in a rickety driftwood shack lapped by the waters of the Caribbean Sea!


  1. When I was at Treasure Beach last year for the Calabash Festival, we had wonderful meals prepared for us by a cook whose services came with the villa we rented. But outside of that, the food--at the hotels, and the Festival itself (I didn't get to the Pelican)--was pretty ornery, apart from a lovely creole conch and bammy lunch I had at Jack Sprat's one day.

    Congrats on the blog!

  2. I spent a weekend at jakes last August and I have to say I had a ball. I sat in the sun and did nothing but tan, talk shite with Dougie and some Jamaicans I made friends with, drink cocktails and eat pizza at the place next door. I did the day trip to pelican which was cool, nice experience and I recommend doing it once, no need to do it twice.

    My favourite bit at Jakes was swimming out to the mooring off the swimming spot at the front off the bar and sitting in the sea for hours.
    Jakes is one of my favourite spots in JA I have to say. Pissed I only discovered it after I left Jamaica.