Lower Prices than Cruise Line Higher Quality, Smaller Tours Money Back GuaranteeGuaranteed Return to Ship 24/7 Traveler Hotline 35,900+ Customer Reviews Customer Reviews4.7 / 5

Dunn’s River Falls: What You Need to Know

Jamaica is a beautiful Caribbean island nation with a rich culture and history, stunning beaches, and warm and friendly people. It’s also a great destination for nature lovers and adventurers because of its diverse range of ecosystems that include rainforests, mountains, and coral reefs. No visit to Jamaica would be complete without visiting one of the many amazing waterfalls of this lush Caribbean island. There’s no shortage of waterfalls in Jamaica, but one of the most spectacular, and certainly the most famous of them all, is Dunn’s River Falls.

Standing an impressive 180 feet high and 600 feet long, this limestone rock formation is a living phenomenon as it constantly renews itself through sediment deposits by cave-fed, thermal spring waters. Its crystal clear waters cascade down in a series of steps and pools, bringing big smiles to the thousands of visitors that scale the face of the waterfall each year.

A Little History about Dunn’s River Falls

Dunn’s River Falls occupies a special place in Jamaica’s history, starting with being a witness to the 1657 Las Chorreras military action. Prior to this battle (also known as the Battle of Ocho Rios), the island had been under Spanish rule for over 150 years before being invaded by the British in 1655. As the English conquerors settled in, Cristóbal Arnaldo Isasi, the island’s former Spanish governor, fled into the hills along with other colonists. Two years later, after witnessing the ravages of disease on the island and instability within the English government’s ranks, Isasi saw an opportunity to try and repossess the land. He came out of hiding with strategically coordinated reinforcements in an attempt to evict the English occupiers, but failed. After suffering defeat nearby Dunn’s River Falls, Isasi and his men retreated, then were captured and repatriated back to Cuba.

If Dunn’s River Falls look familiar to you, it could be because you have seen it on the big (or small) screen before. The falls appeared in such films and television fare as James Bond’s Dr. No (1962), Tom Cruise’s film Cocktail (1988), and more recently, in America’s Next Top Model reality show (Cycle 19).

You will also see Dunn’s River Falls on the island’s currency; the beloved waters appear on the Jamaican $100 bill.

The Climb Itself: What to Expect

There are actually two ways to experience the falls: Via the Wet Climb or the Dry Climb.

Upon arrival at Dunn’s River Falls you will have the opportunity to put your belongings in a rental locker and decide how you want to approach the falls; from there you will make your way down a set of stairs to the base of the waterfall and start your chosen method of climbing.

The Wet Climb is exactly how it sounds — you will get wet by walking up the actual face of the waterfall! Under the direction of local guides, you will start a slow climb up the terraces; your guides will show you the best places to step, ensuring that you get up the waterfall safely — and have fun while doing it! Water shoes or similar lightweight shoes with good traction are essential here, as the rocks can get very slippery and the gushing water will weigh down sneakers or hiking shoes. During your climb some of the steps will be shallow, while others can be up to 2 feet steep. The cold, rushing water and rocky, uneven terrain can make navigation a little tricky, resulting in the tradition of the human daisy chain — where you, your friends, and newfound friends hold hands to help support and steady each other as you make your way up the waterfall’s terraces.

Water levels on the climb can range from ankle-deep on the rocks to waist-deep in the many pools (or lagoons) you can stop at and take a dip in along the way. Stairs next to the waterfall are available to you should you want to exit from the Wet Climb at any point. Total time to climb the waterfall can range between 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the agility and endurance of the climbers in the group, as well as the amount of time spent stopping for photos or to relax in the pools. This exhilarating climb ranks high on the list of once-in-a-lifetime experiences!

With the Dry Climb, you will follow alongside the waterfall climbers via the stairs alongside the waterfall. You will have the option to leave the stairs and enter into one of the waterfall’s pools at any point should you wish to do so. Please be aware that the Dry Climb does not go all the way up to the summit point and you will join your friends in another area.

Climbing Tips and Essentials

Climbing the falls is not too difficult, but climbers should be in good shape and health — especially for the Wet Climb. Pregnant women, persons with neck, back, knee, or hip issues, blood pressure or heart issues are advised to not participate. Persons with respiratory issues or who have had recent arm or shoulder surgery should also sit out or opt for the Dry Climb instead if they feel they can do so.

While there are no specific age restrictions for kids, it is recommended that kids be at least 3 feet in height. Children should be reasonably fit, able to listen to and follow directions, and not easily scared.

Be sure to wear a swimsuit or quick-dry clothing and bring a change of clothes to switch into after the climb. Bring along an inexpensive waterproof, point-and-shoot camera for photos (or a dry bag for your phone), and don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellant. It is also wise to have some money on hand for any tips, snacks or souvenirs after the climb.

There will be photos of your climb available for purchase if you don’t have a camera on you, or don’t want the hassle and worry of carrying one.

Wheelchair access is limited, however there is an observation deck available for those guests to view the waterfall.

There is an entrance fee to the park (which includes the falls) that may or may not be included in your excursion package. It is customary to tip the local guides who help you up the waterfall; as independent operators, they survey the falls each day to determine the best paths, making sure you have the safest and most memorable experience possible. The park and falls are available rain or shine.

Other Things to do at Dunn’s River Falls

Craft Market, Souvenirs, and Delicious Bites

At the top of the falls you will find a craft market with vendors eagerly displaying their wares. These vendors can be a little insistent — but don’t let that deter you from observing the beautiful hand woven baskets, brightly colored paintings, and much more. And remember – part of the  “market experience” is haggling, so don’t accept the first price offered; politely decline and let the vendor offer an alternate price.

In addition to the market you will also find souvenir kiosks, photo shops, ice cream and pizza shops. The cafeteria is a great place to sample authentic Jamaican fare such as jerk chicken, pork or fish. If a picnic is more your style, you are in luck! You are allowed to bring your own food onsite, and grills are available throughout the park.

Dunn’s River Falls Beach

Your park entrance fee also grants you access to the beach with a gorgeous view of the falls. Stroll across the warm sand, take a refreshing swim, and grab a picture-perfect selfie with tropical palms, ferns, and orchids as your backdrop.

Falls Flyer Zip Line

Adrenaline junkies will love the park’s zip line option! After a brief instruction and safety meeting your zip line guide will get you started on the maze of jungle bridges and zip lines. Clip on, push off the deck, and enjoy an alternate view of the falls as you soar across them and the surrounding canopy.

Ride a Bobsled

Bobsledding in Jamaica? Yes! Twist and turn through the jungle in your own bobsled with this thrilling, gravity-led ride down 3,280 feet of track. Then hop out, get in line, and do it again!

Central Gardens

Have children who aren’t ready or able to tackle the falls? Not a problem. They can have a blast at the kid-friendly water features set in a series of 3 lush gardens. Waterslides, splash pads, colorful water buckets and more will keep kids of all ages cooled off and entertained.

Your Own Private Tour Guide

Enjoy the falls — and other nearby attractions — with your very own private guide. Experience everything Dunn’s River Falls has to offer, then catch the highlights of downtown Ocho Rios, with pit stops for breathtaking views along the way. This VIP treatment is a great option for those who are on limited time and want to make the most of their visit to the area.

Catamaran Sailing

Explore the waters offshore of Dunns River Falls with an exciting catamaran sail! Glide through the waters on a sleek, double-hulled vessel and take in glorious views of the falls and surrounding shoreline while sipping on your favorite adult beverage.

How to Make the Best of Your Visit to Dunn’s River Falls – Expert Tips and Tricks

When possible, try to get to the falls with the early morning (before 11am) or late afternoon (after 2pm) tour, when the falls are less crowded. You’ll have more space walking up the falls and around the grounds without feeling rushed.

Don’t be in a hurry to get to the top of the falls; you are climbing uphill, after all! Take advantage of those breaks at the pools to catch your breath, experience a refreshing waterfall-powered massage, and just enjoy the moment being surrounded by the sights and sounds of the lush forest.

Trust your guides! They examine the waterfall every morning — scraping off algae buildup and checking the currents. They walk these falls every day, and are the best way to help you stay safe as you navigate the rocks.

Stick to the sides of the falls. The water’s current is stronger at the center, which is why you will be led frequently up the sides. When you do find yourself getting ready to cross the center of the waterfall, don’t be shy about grabbing your neighbor’s hand. You’ll be glad you did — and most likely they will too.

If a limitation prevents you from joining your child on the waterfall, inform the guides; they can keep an extra eye on your child and possibly keep him or her close to them and near the top of the line.

This should be obvious, but do not attempt to climb the falls under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You will need to be clear headed and agile to successfully traverse the steps.

How to Get There?

Dunn’s River Falls is around a 10 minute drive from the port at Ocho Rios, about 1 hour from Falmouth, and 1.5 hours away from Montego Bay. You can get there by bus or taxi, and there are many shuttle options through hotels and excursion vendors.

Don’t leave Jamaica without exploring this natural — and national — treasure! Your friendly Shore Excursion travel experts are standing by to help get you set up for this incredible experience.
No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes