Ocho Rios, Jamaica: Climbing Dunn's River Falls

I had the most fun climbing waterfalls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. At 180 feet high and 600 feet long with clear and very light blue waters that flow through travertine terraces or giant natural stairs and empty into the white sand beach and aqua blue Caribbean sea, Dunn's River Falls is one of the most visited natural features of the country.

My original plan was just to take photos of the waterfalls and hang out at the beach later, so I was not totally prepared.  When I found out that climbing Dunn's River Falls is one of the most famous activities in Jamaica, I could not pass up on the opportunity to experience it. Although I was wearing my swimsuit I did not have water shoes, which was one of the requirements for climbing the falls.  But as they say in Jamaica, "No problem man".  On the drive to Dunn's River Falls, our driver pulled over so we could buy water shoes from a vendor on the roadside.

I did not find out until we were in the park that we would get totally wet. So I had to scramble down to put my big camera in a locker (so much for taking photos).  But I had my iPhone in a waterproof case hanging around my neck. We met our guide, who asked us to sign a waiver and told us to read the safety rules and regulations.  One of the rules was that cameras are not allowed during the climb.  Fortunately, our guide was in a hurry that when I told him that I'd have to go back to the locker room to put my iPhone away, he said, "No...take it with you." He then led us to the trail and steps that descended down the beach where we started the climb.  The beach itself was beautiful.

The climb was pretty crowded.  We were divided into groups and formed a human chain, strangers holding on to each other. I decided to stay at the very end of the chain so I could use my free hand to film. But it was impossible to film while holding on to the person in front of you or if someone was pulling you. So I just left my iPhone on video and let it rip.  (Below is a short video I created from the iPhone shots, editing out all the crazy shots).

The first couple of steps lead to a small lagoon where a guide/photographer started filming and taking pictures for videos or pictures to be sold after the climb. From that point the climb was steep, the rapids were beautiful and intense, crashing along the vertical steps of the sections of the falls. It was a bit strenuous, especially after the halfway point where we had to go under the bridge with a very narrow gap between the travertine floor and the bridge roof.  So everybody had to slow down, lower their head and body.  It was one of the most dangerous parts of the climb for me.

After the bridge, the climb got easier.  The human chain started to break.  I turned to the guides to give me a helping hand on some of the big steps.  I thought our guide encouraged us to dip in the tiny pools or lagoons. At the end of the climb, I took a few minutes to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. I may not have been able to capture the beautiful scenery in film or picture as I intended, but I was very happy for the "high" from the extraordinary experience.


NOTE:  All videos and photos by the author.

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