When you think of hiking a waterfall in Jamaica, Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios probably jumps to mind.
And why not?
After all, this is perhaps one of the biggest tourism attractions in all of Jamaica, usually attracting thousands of cruise passengers a year.
But if you want a much more intimate experience without the masses hogging up every inch of space, turning a ‘hike’ into more of a sneaker-to-sneaker pedestrian traffic jam, check out Reach Falls, located in Port Antonio, the beautiful, more tropical side of Jamaica.
I showed up thinking it was going to be similar to my Dunn’s River experience where I barely got my toes wet and didn’t exhort any energy since I was taking baby steps the entire way due to the lady about a foot in front of me and the gentleman about a foot behind.
But I was in for a pleasant surprise. Reach Falls doesn't attract nearly the amount of people as Dunn’s. In fact, myself and the two other travel professionals I was with had it all to ourselves for the afternoon.
Anything you would want from a waterfall hiking experience is here – plenty of opportunities to swim above and under rocks, challenging rock climbing, beautiful landscapes, all culminating in a final jump off the rocks if that’s what you’re into. Reach Falls has more than 23 species of ferns and is nestled in the Montane Forrest of the John Crow Mountains, which are home to a variety of birds, including the black and yellow-billed parrots.
Reach Falls is centered on an exotic waterfall cascading down a rock face into an emerald river pool. Reach Falls offers the opportunity to enjoy the cascading waterfall, a picnic area, and a guided tour upstream the Driver’s River (which feeds the waterfall) featuring a visit inside its legendary underwater cave.
The opportunity to jump comes at the very end of the hike and the jump is no more than 20 feet. The water is at least 10 feet deep. It was the highlight for me even if I performed a lackluster cannonball.
Reach Falls was discovered by runaway slaves from plantations in the neighboring parish of St. Thomas who sought refuge in the hills of the John Crow mountains. Reach Falls is a luxurious eco attraction hidden in the Montane Forrest on the John Crow Mountain Range.
Where I Stayed
After my magical Reach Falls experience, it was back to my incredible hotel in Port Antonio – The Trident Hotel.
The Trident Hotel, epitomizes laid-back with just 13 studios, one- and two-bedroom villas with private, heated plunge pools and terraces overlooking the sea. It was thoroughly renovated but maintains most of its original Jamaican-Georgian exteriors.
I stayed in Villa no. 14 (there is no villa no. 13 for superstitious reasons), also known as the Shiprock Villa because it is so close to the ocean and the rocks. The best part of this room, however, was the private patio with a small swimming and lounge chairs. It is completely gated off from the other villas so you basically have a backyard to yourself. The pool is literally about two feet away from the ocean and elevated about two feet above the ocean. It’s not uncommon to get sprinkled by the ocean as the waves crash the rocks. The villa is also the closest one to the hotel’s private beach.