This is my review of the Dunn’s River Falls excursion in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
It’s a famous tourist attraction on the Dunn River, located on the island’s north shore. This excursion is one of the most popular activities in Jamaica and is a must-visit for the adventurous traveler.
No matter how many cruises you go on, things are always on your “to-do” list that never gets done. I recently had a chance to check Dunn’s River Falls off my list after spending a day in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
I had been aware of the falls for a long time and had seen pictures of them. However, I was finally going to experience it in person this time.
What excited me the most was the idea of hiking up the waterfall and enjoying the cool water. It was nearly 100 degrees and humid when we got off the boat, so the refreshing water was a welcome relief.
Dunn’s River Falls Shore Excursion
You can book the Dunn’s River Falls excursion directly through your cruise line or do it alone. There are benefits to each option, of course. We did ours through the cruise line.
|The primary benefit to booking with the ship is that all the details are taken care of in advance, and you’re guaranteed that the boat won’t leave without you! On the other hand, you can usually save some money by making arrangements yourself.
This Dunn’s River Falls excursion was $84.99 per person through Carnival Cruise Line. The cruise line excursion is a guided climb. If you do it on your own, you will need to hire a guide. They’ll have made transportation arrangements if you book through the cruise line.
You can book the excursion if your ship docks at Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, or Falmouth, Jamaica.
|1 hour 7 min.
|1 hour 33 min.
Entrance Fees and Operating Hours
I found that entry fees to Dunn’s River Falls are required for all visitors. The costs are as follows:
- Adults: $25 USD
- Children (2-11 years): $17 USD
It’s important to note that these fees are best paid in cash, as it makes the process quicker and easier. However, they do accept credit cards.
Operating hours for Dunn’s River Falls are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 PM from Monday to Sunday, but if you’re planning to climb the falls, you should aim to arrive by 2:00 p.m. to complete the activity in daylight.
What to Bring
To ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Dunn’s River Falls, don’t forget to pack the following:
- Water Shoes: Essential for grip while climbing the falls
- Swimsuit: Wear one under your clothes to be ready for the climb and occasional dips
- Hat: Helps to keep the sun off your face during the trek
- Waterproof Camera: To capture the memories without damaging your equipment
- Guide: Although not mandatory, hiring a guide can be very helpful, especially for first-time visitors
- Change of clothes: There are changing facilities on the property if you’d like to change before returning to the resort or cruise ship
They sell water shoes and photo cases for $10 each before you enter the lagoon. You can also rent lockers for $10 to store your items while climbing the falls. US dollars are accepted at the attraction.
Climbing The Falls
At specific points along the hike – and make no mistake about it, this is a hike! – some handrails can help steady yourself and even pull yourself along.
You arrive at the top of the falls and then walk down to a small beach. At the base of the falls, that is the real fun – and the workout! – begins.
But let’s get this out of the way right up front: You will get wet during the hike back up to the summit.
While you don’t have to be accompanied by a guide, most guests opt to do so, and it’s a smart move: They know the falls well and can offer advice on spots to avoid and help navigate the trickier areas.
Starting the Adventure
I began my ascent from the waterfall’s base, where a tour guide instructed me to climb the slippery rocks.
To aid each other, climbers formed a human chain by holding hands. Although the park was crowded, the shared excitement of the climb was tangible, and we moved forward, step by step. There were moments when the fast water tested my footing, requiring me to maintain a steady pace and focus on my balance.
Safety and Guidelines
Our guide gave us a briefing about the necessary safety standards and protocols before we stepped onto the slippery rocks. We were advised to wear appropriate water shoes to prevent slipping, and guides were strategically positioned to assist climbers, particularly in the most physically demanding sections.
|Alternative routes were available as a precaution for those who found the climb too challenging. As someone seeking a safe yet exciting experience, I appreciated these measures and felt confident in the support provided.
Climbing Dunn’s River Falls catered to adults and kids, offering a refreshing and physically active journey. It tested my strength and willpower, surging water constantly reminding me of nature’s powerful presence.
You will want to bring a waterproof case for your phone or a GoPro because it’s a stunning view at the top of the falls!
After the Climb
After making my way up the famous waterfalls, I discovered Dunn’s River Falls offers more than just the exhilarating climb. The park provides direct access to a beach and a variety of other experiences that shouldn’t be missed.
Shopping and Dining
Just like how every attraction at Walt Disney World exits into a gift shop, you can’t get out of this park without making your way through the craft market.
The difference is that at Disney, you don’t have aggressively pushy salespeople doing whatever they can to get in your face and make a sale. It’s a shame the park allows this to continue, as it can be intimidating to some and is not the final impression you want to make on guests.
For dining, there are several eateries where I tasted the local flavors. From jerk-spiced specialties to refreshing tropical fruits, the area around Dunn’s River Falls caters to a range of appetites, ensuring that visitors leave with both their adventurous and culinary cravings satisfied.
If you want to make the most of your leisure time, go to one of the local bars and enjoy a budget-friendly beer, which costs around $3, while immersing yourself in the village’s atmosphere.
Getting to Dunn’s River Falls
My journey to Dunn’s River Falls was straightforward since it was booked through the cruise line, but I found several transportation options to fit any traveler’s preference.
- Bus: I discovered that the local buses are a cost-effective way to reach the falls. They frequently traverse the main highway connecting major cities to Ocho Rios. Buses might not be as comfortable as tour buses, but they offer an authentic slice of Jamaican life.
- Cruise Ships: Many visitors, including myself, access Dunn’s River Falls via cruise excursions. The falls are a popular stop for Caribbean cruises, and our ship was docked at Ocho Rios, from where it was an easy eight-minute ride to the attraction.
- Highway: The highway to the falls is well-maintained and offers a beautiful scenic drive. I found that renting a car and driving myself allowed for flexibility, though parking can get crowded due to the popularity of the falls.
- Parking: If you’re driving, there’s ample parking available near the falls. I arrived early to ensure I found a spot, as it can fill up quickly, especially on weekends and holidays.
Is Dunn’s River Falls Worth it?
Climbing Dunn’s River Falls is an exhilarating and unforgettable experience. The stunning natural beauty, refreshing water, and sense of accomplishment make it all worthwhile.
The climb up the falls, taking about an hour, requires water shoes and offers a photo service for $40. Be cautious in the market at the top, and avoid accepting or trying items from vendors.
Dunn’s River Falls is one of the many cruise excursions you can book while visiting Jamaica and by far the most active I’ve ever done!
Tips for climbing Dunn’s River Falls
When planning a visit to Dunn’s River Falls, it is crucial to be well-prepared. Here’s a strategic guide based on my experience to ensure a safe and enjoyable excursion:
- Water Shoes: This is a non-negotiable item, as regular sneakers will get waterlogged. I brought my water shoes, a lifesaver on the slippery rocks.
- Group Climb: Climbing the falls is a collective effort. You’ll hold onto each other for stability, which is surprisingly comforting during the more challenging portions of the ascent.
- Safety Measures: To minimize slipping, be mindful of darker rocks, which could be slick with algae. The staff works hard to keep climbing areas clean, but always follow the guide’s instructions.
- Cash is King: Cash is necessary for tipping your guide, renting lockers, or purchasing photos from the onsite photographer. Lockers are available to secure belongings during your climb.
- Break in the Lagoons: Shallow lagoons offer delightful intermissions between climbs. They’re perfect for catching your breath and snapping a few memorable photos.
- Plan B Exit: An accessible path runs alongside the falls for anyone preferring a less physical experience or needing a quick exit. You can still enjoy the scenery and rejoin your group in the lagoons.
- Sunscreen and bug spray: Remember those two items because the Caribbean sun is hot, and the mosquitos are plentiful.
Lastly, remember that wildlife, such as spiders and crabs, is part of the natural habitat, so watch out. They’re typically harmless and more scared of you than you are of them. Enjoy the natural beauty and unique thrill of climbing one of the Caribbean’s most extraordinary waterfalls.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before you visit Dunn’s River Falls, it’s important to know key details to make the most of your experience. I’ve gathered the most common inquiries to help you prepare for your trip.
How do you prepare for a visit to Dunn’s River Falls?
For a Dunn’s River Falls visit, I suggest wearing water shoes to grip the slippery rocks and bringing a waterproof camera. It’s also wise to arrive early to avoid the crowds.
What are the ticket prices for Dunn’s River Falls?
Admission to Dunn’s River Falls is approximately $25 USD for adults and $17 USD for children ages 12 and under for non-Jamaican residents.
What are the facilities like at Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios?
Dunn’s River Falls’s facilities include well-maintained restrooms, changing rooms, and picnic areas, making it suitable for families and adventurers.
How physically demanding is the climb at Dunn’s River Falls?
The climb is moderately challenging; it takes roughly 1 to 1.5 hours to complete. Sturdy shoes and a reasonable fitness level are recommended.
Are there any package deals that include Dunn’s River Falls and other attractions?
Various package deals combine Dunn’s River Falls with other nearby attractions, offering a full day of activities at a bundled price. It’s worthwhile to research ahead of your trip for the best deals.