Last week I found nirvana at Jake’s Treasure Beach on Jamaica.
I do not throw around that word lightly.
Within an hour of checking into this quirky boutique hotel on the south side of the island I had already reached a level of relaxation I’ve been trying to achieve for months in yoga class. As soon as I walked into the lobby, my bags were taken away and replaced with fresh passionfruit juice. Cynthia at the front desk greeted us like old friends and led us out to catch the last of the sunset at the oceanfront, saltwater pool. After a long day of travel, I couldn’t help but slip off my sandals and dip my toes in the cool water. From there, we were whisked to one of Jake’s coastal cottages–Abalone #1–which boasted plush furnishings and an uninterrupted view of the lazy blue ocean.
Now this is a vacation, I thought.
Everything at Jake’s feels personal, unique and hand-picked. The bed linens are locally produced, the mosaics are cheeky, the potted plants are real and the selection of books lying about are worn and dog-eared. It was as if my best friend had invited us to stay in her house in Jamaica for the week, instead of checking into an impersonal hotel.
Jake’s boasts 17 cottages, seven villas and three large family homes for its guests to stay in–all of which are separated by a jungle-like garden so you can’t see your neighbors. Each one has some standout feature, be it a shell-lined outdoor shower or sunset views of the ocean. When I chose Abalone #1, I pictured myself reading a good book with a piña colada on the oceanfront porch. And I did that every day.
After one of the most peaceful nights’ sleep to the soundtrack of waves crashing, we wandered to Jake’s cafe to see what was for breakfast. Hot coffee, tropical fruit and locally baked goods awaited us. I was perfectly satisfied with the selection, but my ravenously hungry husband ordered fried eggs with sausage…which I did every day after that. Yum!
The casual cafe is bikinis and flip-flops by day and sun dresses and button-downs by night. Jake’s takes alfresco dining to the next level.
You could eat every meal at Jake’s cafe. We did that a couple of days and were not bored. I’ll not soon forget the conch fritters we ate by candlelight (and star light) on our first evening. But after we’d tried almost everything on the menu, we wandered down the garden path to Jake’s hip eatery next door: Jack Sprat. Sure, there are less candles and couples in love at Jack Sprat, but the music is thumping and the pizzas are hot.
A younger, more local crowd fills Jack Sprat each night for seafood pizzas and cold Red Stripe beers. A TV in the corner of the bar has local cricket matches on all night. I loved being TV-free at Jake’s, but it was fun catching some cricket on the tube one night. The bartender tried to explain the rules to me. I’m still confused about that sport, but I loved being in the cheering section while munching on a shrimp and pepper pizza. We returned two more times on our trip–once for ice cream and once to get a pizza to-go. It was beginning to feel like our local pizza place back home by the time we checked out!
Another great part about Jack Sprat is the tiny, white-sand beach just in front of it where you can lay all day in the shade of a balsa wood tree. A stone wall runs along the front of Jake’s with steps that lead into the ocean. There, you can get in a good swim in waist-deep water before retiring to one of the chaise lounges next to the pool. If you want to actually get some sand in your toes, head to Jack Sprat’s beach for a sunset stroll.
The other major highlight of our trip? Taking in an indulgent couples’ Driftwood Massage at Jake’s oceanfront spa one afternoon. I’ve been to many spas in the U.S. where they try to re-create the feeling of being on a beach with fans and a “waves crashing” soundtrack. It was amazing going to spa where the ocean atmosphere was the real deal.
Two lovely women led us into the massage room and then left to let us disrobe and tuck under the colorful towels. Their hands worked magic on the stress I’d been holding onto in my shoulders, thanks to days of being hunched at a computer. I’m not sure what they rubbed into my skin, but everything smelled of coconut and sea breeze. We practically melted into the plush tables as 90 minutes quickly ticked by. My husband was so relaxed he let out a snore near the end of the session! Embarrassing, but I bet it wasn’t the first time it has happened. I dare you not to fall asleep during one of these heavenly massages.
Now, it was not all massages and lazy afternoons at Jake’s. The front desk helped us plan three adventuresome excursions to help us see why the southern coast is a magical part of Jamaica.
Our first excursion was to the world-renowned Pelican Bar a couple of miles offshore. Jake’s arranged for Captain Joseph Brown to pick us up in his funky motor boat around noon on our second day. He gave us a tour of the coast by boat and let us stop to snorkel for an hour where we saw seahorses and tropical fish.
Then he turned towards a driftwood-constructed shack standing on stilts over shallow water. It looked like something out of a movie. I wasn’t sure what to expect…but when we arrived, the reggae music was blasting, the fish was frying and the dominoes were flying. Who knew that dominoes is the most popular game on the island? We grabbed a couple of Red Stripes and joined in on the action.
I secretly wish we had booked another afternoon at the Pelican Bar before we left Jamaica, but I keep telling myself we’ll be back. Meanwhile, we had a lot more on our schedule. Like visiting the Appleton Estate where they have been producing 52 different kinds of rum since 1741!
We took an hour-long tour of the gorgeous property, trying rum along the way and learning about how it is made from locally grown sugar cane or sugar beets. I didn’t know I liked rum until I tried Appleton’s aged spiced rum and the dark espresso-flavored rum. Wow, it will knock your socks off. My favorite part of the tour was the barrel room where there are is so much rum wafting through the air that you can actually become tipsy if you were to close the doors and windows. Thank goodness Jake’s arranged a driver for us!
Our third adventure was a trip to YS Waterfalls, about an hour’s drive inland into the jungle. Once there, the staff at YS falls took us on a nature walk and pointed out the local flora and fauna, finally revealing the stunning YS waterfalls. Then they handed us some gloves and showed us where we could grab onto a rope and jump off! I’m happy to report that after a few minutes of nervously standing at the edge of the wooden platform and some coaxing from my husband, I conquered my fears and jumped. What a rush!
If we only had three days in Jamaica, I could have spent them all at Jake’s watching this view. (OK, and maybe one afternoon at the Pelican Bar.) I was bowled over by Jamaica’s beauty, her kind locals and the outstanding service at Jake’s Treasure Beach. I would recommend it as a romantic getaway for couples, a serene spot for solo travelers and a perfect place for a family to disconnect from technology. There is truly something for everyone at Jake’s–and you cannot say that about every hotel.
May I confess one last thing? I wasn’t sure I was going to like Jamaica. I don’t listen to reggae music in my everyday life. I don’t eat jerk chicken or drink rum normally. I’m more of a Paris type of girl. Going to Jamaica was my husband’s idea and I’m so glad he talked me into it.
But I truly owe my new love affair with Jamaica to Jake’s Treasure Beach. I doubt we would be planning a trip back to Jamaica in 2017 if we had stayed anywhere else.
Meanwhile, I’ll be dreaming of my favorite hammock…
This post is sponsored by Jake’s Treasure Beach, a quirky boutique hotel that will remain a personal favorite for the rest of my life. It is my pleasure to promote hotels that offer one-of-kind lodging and top notch service. Thank you for supporting hotels that support BakersfieldBlonde. Photos by BakersfieldBlonde and Jake’s Treasure Beach.