YS Falls is the twelfth Jamaican waterfall I’ve visited and written about on here, and I couldn’t be happier. Waterfalls are my favourite natural feature and like the other eleven falls, YS didn’t disappoint. YS Falls is located near Jamaica’s South coast and is part of a river which emerges from limestone caves and springs high up in Breadnut Valley, St. Elizabeth.
The YS River is the main tributary of the great Black River, the longest navigable river in Jamaica and also the widest. It’s so interesting that all three water bodies I’ve visited in Sainty (affectionate name for the St. Elizabeth parish) are all connected– Breadnut Valley Falls high above and the Black River Safari down below at the mouth. It feels like I’ve traversed the whole river in its entirety, just at different points, over the previous three months. However, my inner geography passion isn’t what we’re here to talk about.
I wasn’t the driver of this trip so I couldn’t begin to tell you about this “long-cut” that my driver took. His route went through Mile Gully and Balacava which, although the map lists as a main road (B6), it looks like anything but. But hey, not my car, not my problem. It was a rather interesting alternative to the route I usually take to St. Elizabeth though, even passing the turn-off to the infamous Duppy Church, but he wasn’t having that stop. 🤣 I recommend A4 instead which takes you through Santa Cruz. The number of kilometres may be longer but it’s way better road quality and you’ll arrive faster in my opinion.
Admission is US$19 and US$11 for adult and child visitors, while local adult price is JM$1,300 (forgot to ask local child price, sorry, but I assume it’d be half). If you’d like to zipline above the falls, the cost increases to US$35 and US$20, adult and child prices respectively. They’re open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:30am to 3:30pm, and closed on Mondays and all public holidays. They have a small number of, but fairly decent restrooms and changing rooms.
After paying by the ticket booth, you’ll be directed to where the shuttle boards passengers. It took me a while to realize we were literally driving through a huge cattle pen! Like the bus had 2 staff members, the driver and another person who would open and close gates for us at intervals which seemed so unnecessary until I realized ohmagerd we’re driving through a cattle pen, but fret not. The cows couldn’t care less about humans. I also wondered why didn’t they just put the entrance to the falls further up the road so they wouldn’t have to shuttle us around, but I think it adds to the laid-back rural Jamaican countryside or ranch type of vibe they were likely trying to create. Otherwise we might drive past on our own and miss the charm of the landscape, what with large open meadows for miles against the upturned egg-carton topography of the Cockpit Country. I enjoyed watching the cattle graze, the egrets doing their thing next to them and the beautiful horses minding their own business in the distance. After about 5 minutes, you’re by the main attraction of:
God must have spent a little extra time creating the limestone rock and jungle-like foliage in which the centuries have carved seven delightful perfectly-tiered waterfalls at YS. The seven falls total 40 metres in height. If you paid for the zipline option, I imagine the view of the falls from air must be wonderful (not to mention the adrenalin rush) but this visit didn’t become my first zipline experience. Instead, I busied myself with splashing around in the shallow part of the natural pools or getting my usual watery back massages which the various Jamaican waterfalls I’ve visited so far are so good at delivering.
Of course, I spent most of my time by the natural pools but there are nice man-made ones too!
The pools are best suited for children and families since the depth is clearly marked, and they don’t exceed 4 1/2 feet or so in depth. The palm trees and deck chairs add a nice resort touch too– now you really feel like you’re vacationing. 🌴
In terms of other tidbits I think people should know if planning a trip to YS:
- You’re allowed to bring your own food onto the property, but 3 restaurants/grills are available too. Of course it won’t be your roadside corner-shop or cook-shop prices, but they weren’t too bad. I’ve seen way worse at tourist places.
- Bring water-shoes. You’d think I’d have bought a pair by now. Sigh.
- No lockers are available so bring as little valuables with you as possible.
- Make sure you have EVERYTHING you need because you’ll have to pay again if you leave the gates.. plus catch a shuttle.
- Oh and re the shuttles, they’re fairly reliable with one always waiting as soon as another departed.
All in all, a well spent day with good weather at a lovely location. I rate YS Falls full five stars, ☆☆☆☆☆, and next time I’ll take the zipline perhaps. I must say it looked and sounded terrific (-ally frightening). 😅
Swim upstream for free at Breadnut Valley Falls or take the safari tour with the crocs downstream. Or perhaps end your day like I did at Lovers’ Leap. There’s quite a lot to do in St. Elizabeth. It’s now right up there in my favourite parishes behind my own chaotic favourite St. Andrew and scenic breezy Portland.
Also, look at me starting the year right! First place down on 2019’s bucket list.
This post would look great on your Pinterest boards!
‘Til next time, ✌🏽.
*** Updates: I visited again in August 2019 and did the zipline! It’s a bit pricey but I 10/10 would recommend. YS is even more stunning from air and the adrenalin rush was great. The well-trained professional guides are awesome too and make the experience. Also, after heavy rains the water gets very muddy and brown but the pools offer an alternative for swimming. As of 2020, the admission per local adult is now $1,500.