Dunn’s River Falls and Park is a state-run tourist attraction featuring a natural waterfall, beach, park and hiking trail along Jamaica’s north coast. It has been minimally modified with cement to create footholds, making it safer and easier for tourists to climb but that’s about it. The waterfall is not man-made. If the tiers seem too perfect to believe that they are natural, that’s because Jamaica’s limestone richness and our abundant rivers create magic when they meet, carving out thousands of caves and dozens of perfectly tiered cascades throughout the whole island which are a sight to behold. They didn’t name Jamaica from the Arawakan word Xaymaca meaning ‘land of wood and water’ for nothing. April 2018 was my first visit to Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios, Saint Ann.
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How to Find Dunn’s River Falls + Entry Fee (2022)
Dunn’s River Falls is located along the north coast main road in Ocho Rios, similar to the smaller Little Dunn’s River. Dunn’s River is less than ninety minutes’ drive from Kingston using the highway with tolls. Take the second exit at the roundabout. Within 5 minutes, you’ll see Dunn’s River’s entrance on the right. If you’re from or staying in Saint Ann, even better! A simple route taxi of $150 per person will drop you to the entrance. You can walk to the exit and flag down another taxi when you’re ready to leave. Entry into Dunn’s River Falls costs US$23 and US$15 for adults and children respectively. The entry fee for locals in 2022 is JM$1,000 and $500. Local adults are required to show valid government identification (driver’s licence, electoral ID or passport) to obtain the discount. There is now the option of hiking to nearby historical ruins which is called “Tek A Hike.” This comes at a small additional cost.
They are open everyday of the week from 8:30am–4pm and the amenities are endless. These include souvenir stores, a mini craft market with sculptors on hand sculpting their wares, a helpdesk, refreshments on sale, numerous changing rooms, clean bathrooms, lifeguards, tour guides, locker rentals, loads of picnic benches, a mini water park and slide for children (recent addition), police post and massive car park. They don’t call Dunn’s River Falls a world-class tourist attraction for nothing. You’re allowed to bring your own food, but ensure you carry everything you need from the car since you aren’t allowed re-entry without re-paying once you exit the gates to fetch anything.
Dunn’s River Falls & Beach
The beauty of going out with my mother is that she forces me to live in the moment. You leave your phones in the bag and live for now in the experience, which wasn’t hard to do considering my phone isn’t waterproof and these cascades are stroooong. While I’m certainly not at the extreme in this photo-taking millennial era, it made me wonder how much sensory experience we lose from a place because we’re focused on getting the perfect snaps rather than fully immersing in now. I can’t say if unplugging is why I had so much fun, or maybe it’s also because I managed to convince my mom to climb the falls. She told me a firm no every time I brought it up in the weeks we planned this trip but look what perseverance and coaxing and teasing can do! The vibe between going out with family vs. friends is very different but I welcome both. It takes about 30 minutes to climb Dunn’s River Falls.
Dunn’s River welcomes several hundred visitors each day, so don’t go there expecting to get more than one corner of the place to yourself at a time unless you go before 10:00 am. Human chains of 100 people or more hold hands and climb this cascade several times a day. However, similar to when I’d visited Green Grotto Caves last October, it warmed my heart to see my tiny third-world isle making colossal strides in tourism. I’d hate to see all our treasures become this commercialized because I prefer to enjoy nature untouched & free, but we do need attractions like this. That’s what vacation is all about– comfort. If it’s not state-run nor privatized, the safety, cleanliness and amenities which we take for granted at Dunn’s River Falls would not exist.
‘Til next time. ✌🏽
*** Last Updated in 2022.