Jamaica may be one of the most beautiful island nations in the Caribbean, famous for its coastal areas – the beautiful beaches, coves and bays – but it is not just sun and surf beach adventures. Jamaica is also home to the highest mountain peaks in the Caribbean, to dense growth forests, and even to tropical rainforests. This varied terrain had produced a number of waterfalls, each lovely in its own right. Some are popular tourist destinations, but others, due to their location, see fewer visitors, and thus, retain much more of their natural wonder.
Dunn’s River Falls is the most popular of the waterfalls in Jamaica, as it is easily accessible to tourists, especially those coming off of the cruise ships for a few hours or the evening. Located just outside of Ocho Rios, these 600-foot waterfalls attract crowds. The scenery is beautiful, despite the touch of commercialism, and the guided climb is not too strenuous, though slippery rocks do cause the occasional bump or bruise. There are places at the bottom and on the way up to refresh, wading and splashing in the cold, clear mountain water. The admission fee is $10 for people 12 and up, $8 for 11 and under, with no charge for children under 2. The site is open daily from 8:30am to 5pm, though on the days when cruise ships pull in to port, it opens early, at 7Am, to accommodate visitors.
The Y.S. Falls are a different sort of experience, and are located by the Black River, on a papaya plantation. Juta Tours, which operates out of Negril, Jamaica, at 2 Market Street, offers a guided tour that takes about half a day, and is really the best way to experience these much more natural falls. The fee is $12 and Juta Tours is open from 9:30am to 3:30pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
Just outside of Port Antonio, near Hope Bay on Route A4, are the Somerset Falls. These beautiful falls are in a natural, green setting, full of unusual plants and flowers. This peaceful spot definitely does not draw the crowds that other places more convenient to tourists do. Part of that may be due to the fact that visitors need to travel by water – either make a short swim or float along in a raft – to see these rushing waters. However, the site staff members are there to assist and are attentive and courteous. Just on the other side of the waterfall is a small cave, a perfect place to take in the sight and sound of the waterfall. It is definitely worth the time and effort, and is a sight that should not be missed.
These are just a few of the waterfalls to be seen in Jamaica. Aside from the few that regularly attract tourists, most are in delightfully peaceful settings, rich in local flora and fauna, and full of the color and sound that make Jamaica the beautiful island that it is. There are a variety of hiking trails and tours from which you can see the rest of Jamaica’s beautiful waterfalls, easily arranged with the assistance of the hotel staff, who’ll be happy to suggest local guides.