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Every trip to Jamaica’s Ocho Rios seems to include the obligatory visit to the famous Dunn River Falls. You may be wondering, is Dunn River Falls overrated? And if so, is there an alternative? Here is a breakdown of my visit to Dunn River Falls and why I recommend the Blue Hole instead.
What is Dunn River Falls?
Dunn River Falls is THE most popular tourist attraction in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Stretching over 600 ft, visitors hike through the falls themselves, with multiple stops for photo ops. A licensed guide will accompany your group and show you the safest way up the falls.
You’ll arrive near the top and walk downstairs to the bottom of the falls – the beach. You won’t have an opportunity to stop there but will instead start your walk up the falls. There are multiple points along the trail where pools have formed or where you can pose for a photo. Dunn River Falls is a classic tourist spot.
While Dunn River Falls is included in most area tours, you don’t need to go with a tour – you can visit the falls on your own. The adult admission fee is $25 per adult and $17 for kids 4-12. The visit is not recommended for younger kids. You can arrange for a pickup if you want.
Every group going through the falls includes a licensed guide and a photographer/videographer.
What do you need to bring to Dunn River Falls?
To have the best experience, here is what you need:
- Swimsuit (of course!)
While a sexy little two-piece may look cute in photos, the flow from the waterfall may result in a wardrobe malfunction. Wear a comfortable suit!
- Water Shoes
While you can buy water shoes on location, it is more affordable for you to bring your own. The rocks are slippery, and you’ll see people slip and fall constantly. I wore Merrells, but mine broke due to the force of the water. Closed-toe water shoes are a better idea.
While some of the spots are in the shade, you’re close to the equator, and you’ll want to protect yourself from a nasty sunburn.
Bring your ship’s pool towel if you’re on a cruise (like us). Otherwise, pack a quick dry towel.
- Cell Phone Pouch
Most of us take photos on our cell phones. There is no way for you to keep it dry under these conditions. A waterproof case will allow you to take your photos. Mine still got condensation due to the temperature difference between the warm air and the cool water.
- Change of Clothes
You’ll be walking around in just your bathing suit. But if you want to change out of your wet bathing suit after the visit, you’ll need dry clothes.
This one will hurt, but you’ll need US dollars (readily accepted) to pay for a lot of the things on site, like photos, etc. While some vendors accept credit cards, most will ask for cash.
Is Dunn River Falls Overrated?
Be prepared – you will not be alone! Every cruise ship brings its guests here. And as mentioned, every tour in the area tends to include a stop here. I recommend booking with a small group not related to the cruise line. You’ll get there earlier and will go through the entire falls instead of a smaller area.
The trail to exit the park is crowded with vendors. Do NOT accept anything for free! It will not be free! Artisans will talk to you, ask about your cruise ship and cabin number, and send a bill.
I HATED walking through the “art village.” Everyone is trying to sell something. Just say “no thank you” and keep walking! Food and drink vendors can be found near the exit.
While it was beautiful and fun, I was underwhelmed.
Is the Cool Blue Hole an alternative to Dunn River Falls?
A newer addition to the tourist spots in Ocho Rios is the Cool Blue Hole. Unlike Dunn River Falls, you won’t be walking up the falls. Instead, you’ll jump into the deep ponds at the base of some waterfalls created by sinkholes.
The name comes from the beautiful blue shade of water created by the limestone rocks. The pools form a fun place to jump into, and there is also a spot for cute photos. To access the areas, you must climb up the hill a bit, so be ready. Don’t bring any unnecessary items (lockers are available).
The first spot you’ll go to is a jump off the cliff into a deep pool. Even with my fear of heights, I did it (so you can too!). The water is cold and jarring when you land, and the waters drag you down the river. A rope across the water’s surface is your cue to grab on and pull yourself out.
The next spot you’ll visit includes a rope swing. You’ll be guided to the edge by your guide, and you release over the pool. This is how I learned that I have weak arms and dropped pretty quickly! The current here is extremely strong! Wear a life jacket (available for free), or make sure you’re a strong swimmer. Many people lose their water shoes or portions of their bathing suits. Don’t bring your phone to this one or hand it to someone else while you jump.
You’ll need to bring the same items you would take to Dunn River Falls, except that credit card payments are not accepted here. Cash is king if you want to buy food, drink, or rent a locker.
Final Thoughts on Dunn River Falls, Jamaica
We booked our tour, the Double Dip, through Kool Jamaica Tours. We paid cash to our driver, though he would also have accepted a credit card. Our group of 17 was way more manageable than the large group of about 30 we saw from the cruise ship on a shore excursion.
If you want a pretty and classic tourist spot, then Dunn River Falls is worth it. Blue Hole is better if you want a little adventure on your visit to Ocho Rios. Of course, you can always do what we did and combine the two for the best of both worlds!
Have you visited Dunn River Falls or the Blue Hole? What did you think? Share with us in the comments!
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