Kwame Falls, Saint Mary

Kwame Falls is a free river and waterfall in Jamaica near the rural district of Robin’s Bay in St. Mary. It is said that the falls are named for Kwame, one of the warriors who fought alongside Tacky in 1760. This was the most successful rebellion against enslavement in Jamaica before that of Samuel Sharpe 71 years later. It is significant that the fall named for Kwame is smaller and less powerful than Tacky Falls, also in St. Mary, as Tacky was a more courageous and fiercer leader than he. I haven’t found a written record of any general Kwame or Kwaamen, however, one source made mention of Kwaw as one of Tacky’s conspirators. With the distortion of oral history throughout the years, it’s very likely that Kwaw became “Kwame.” That aside, this was a memorable adventure with a 4-hour roundtrip hike involved. Here’s how it went:

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Dunn’s River Falls, Saint Ann

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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10 Lessons from Chasing Waterfalls in Jamaica

What’s not to love about water putting on a grand display? My island home of Jamaica is blessed with over 20 waterfalls hidden in its verdant rugged mountains. Our cascades are small making them interactive and fit to be climbed, stood under, swam in and enjoyed unlike the world’s largest falls which can only be admired at a distance. Waterfalls are my favourite feature of nature and since 2016 I’ve been trying to see them all. I’m now at 8 and counting, 6 of which were off the beaten path.

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Tacky Falls, Saint Mary

Life is quite unpredictable and I’m learning to roll with the punches more each day. Earlier this year I’d set out to visit this waterfall’s smaller cousin, Kwame Falls, but the public transport in Kingston decided against that plan. Thus, I was most excited when a high schoolmate of mine who is now studying abroad came out for Christmas and organized a few trips to discover more of Jamaica, perhaps inspired by his own overseas adventures or this blog 😅. Tacky Falls in Islington, St. Mary was on his itinerary and that’s how it came about that I visited the harder-to-find St. Mary waterfall first.

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Little Dunn’s River, Saint Ann

Little Dunn’s River in Ocho Rios is the last remaining span of free north coast between Portland & St. Ann’s Bay in Jamaica. Attempts have been made in the past by the government to shut it down, citing that the property was a safety hazard to patrons but really with the motive of handing over the property to private developers. In 2013, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) posted guards at the site, erected a fence with a locked gate, placed no trespassing signs on the property and mounted no parking signs on the adjacent strip of road on which patrons would park.

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Island Gully Falls, Saint Ann

I try to demystify Jamaican off-the-beaten-path places on Adventures from Elle because usually not much useful information is available about these places online or by word of mouth. Island Gully Falls is one such place despite becoming very popular on social media and perhaps more recently popularized as Blue Hole. A detailed search turned up conflicting prices ranging from free to expensive US$ prices and its location in St. Ann was often quickly corrected by others to St. Mary. Well, Island Gully Falls is a scenic cascading portion of the White River set upstream under tropical rainforest-like canopy and it straddles the parish border of St. Ann and St. Mary. Also, there is a rate of JM$500 for locals but as to the cost they charge foreign tourists I can’t say. It seems to vary depending on whether you find your own transport there or if you come with a tour group. Nonetheless, here’s how my adventure went:

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Penfield Falls, Saint Andrew

Let me start by saying that these falls are unnamed. It’s a pity to have such beautiful cascades of the Hope River tucked away in Penfield, a small district in Gordon Town, yet after all these years they are still nameless. Until a name for these falls catches on, we will call them the Penfield Falls after the district in which they are located. This is to distinguish them from the other four waterfalls in Gordon Town which can be accessed through the Pretty Close 876 property.

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Somerset Falls, Portland

Somerset Falls in Hope Bay, Portland is a series of picturesque cascades meandering through the lush green backdrop of a tropical rainforest. The falls run through an old indigo and spice plantation, but the property bears no semblance to its former purpose today.

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Falling Edge Falls, Saint Andrew

Falling Edge Falls is nestled away in the rural community of Stony Hill. This area receives very high rainfall annually, making it a suitable site for catchment facility the Hermitage Dam and Reservoir. If you’ve ever wanted to see one of the two notorious corporate area reservoirs, consider this killing two birds with one stone. Nothing I’d found online mentally prepared me for my adventure on the 30.12.16, but I owe previous blogs many thanks for ensuring I was prepared with sneakers (phew! because I usually approach water bodies in flip-flops). I nearly didn’t see the falls today because I didn’t realize how very far apart the reservoir and falls are. I’ll describe the trails as best I can, for anyone choosing to quench their wanderlust with this treasure.

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Reggae Falls, Saint Thomas

Reggae Falls, a.k.a. Dam Head, is a jewel tucked away in the hilly rural community of Hillside, Saint Thomas (what an aptly named district!). This waterfall is not entirely natural as many years ago, the Johnson River which supplies it was being developed to power a hydroelectricity station. The project suffered some damage from a hurricane early in development, leading to its abandonment. However, its aesthetic appeal has not gone unnoticed by residents of the community nor dry land tourists* like myself, who are its main patrons. My only visit thus far was in January 2016. Its waters are touted to have healing properties due to its sulphur content. It is currently not commercialized and I hope it develops, once its ownership remains in local hands.

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