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Black River Tours, Boating + Fishing in Treasure Beach

Only the South Coast of Jamaica…catch the Black River adventure—beautiful, wild, extremely elemental

lack River. It’s a thrilling 15-mile boat journey down the coast from Jakes to the Black River, providing plenty of opportunity to see dolphins and acclimate yourself to the landscape. The trip takes approximately 40 minutes each way and is usually rougher on the return. Our boat captains are highly skilled and can ride the sea’s currents with tremendous style and grace.

The Great Morass, a 125-square-mile mangrove swamp, extends inland from the mouth of the Black River—Jamaica’s longest river (44 miles long). It is possible to navigate a boat up river for about 12 miles. This wetland is a vital preserve for more than 100 bird species, among them—jacanas, egrets, whistling-duck, water hen, seven species of heron and red-footed coots. The brackish waters also harbor an underwater bounty of snook and tarpon that can reach 200 pounds. Fishermen can be seen spearfishing and checking shrimp pots from dugout canoes. But the monarch of the great morass is the crocoylus acutus—a smaller and less aggressive version of the man-eating crocs found in Australia and Africa. The reptile has been protected from hunting since the early ‘70s. Naturalists estimate that there are about 300 crocodiles left in this particular swamp.

In 1995, the international environmental organization Ramsar recognized the Black River Great Morass as an important nature preserve to be protected. Up river, stop for a snack at Sister Lou’s—a thatched-roof shack looking like something out of The African Queen that sits beside Salt Spring Bridge. Sister Lou’s specialty is crab backs—which are delicious, especially when devoured between dips in the freshwater swimming hole under the bridge. Most guests enjoy combining the Black River tour with the Pelican bar as it is on the way and together the two make for a great sunset or day trip.


Boating and fishing are always entirely dependent on weather. Ted, Dennis (Shabba), Kirk, Khani, Bernard and Blacka are Jakes’ boat captains. The best time to go is in the early morning, particularly if you are going to venture down Black River to see birds throughout the mangroves. The evening from 4:30 p.m. to sunset is another lovely time to fish and bird watch. Magical full moon excursions can be arranged a few nights each month.


Pull fish traps that have been set by fisherman or drop a line—either way, it’s a thrill. Fish frequently caught are snapper, jack, king fish, tuna and grouper. Bring your catch back and we’ll prepare it anyway you like—fried, grilled or some other recipe that you want to share.

Let us know what sounds good to you and the Front Desk will be happy to arrange.


“Arrange a voyage with Captain Joseph to Beach Point, just down the coast from Jakes. Miles of untouched sand and calm ocean waters, plus a bountiful luncheon of local specialties prepared and served on site by Captain Joseph. Afternoon naps in the shade and the possibility of dolphins accompanying the canoe while motoring back to Jakes.”

—Linda Meyers

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