Dunn’s River Falls perfectly embodies Jamaica’s title of the “land of wood and water”. With the beautiful falls and beach surrounded by so much lush greenery, it truly feels like all aspects of nature are in harmony!
It’s a perfect destination for a variety of personalities. Whether you’d like to challenge yourself with the flagship experience — climbing to the summit — or just relax at the beach and take in the wondrous scenery, you’ll find something to enjoy at the Falls.
From the 180-foot-high peak, the waterfalls empty onto a white-sand beach and into the crystal blue Caribbean Sea. Considered a national treasure, the Dunn’s River Falls are also considered to be a sort of “living phenomenon” by geologists.
As a travertine waterfall, it is continuously being rebuilt by sediments flowing through the water.
The Falls are one of the most popular attractions in Jamaica for locals and tourists alike, and you won’t want to miss out on the experience. Here’s everything you need to know about Dunn’s River Falls in preparation for a visit.
Where is Dunn’s River Falls?
Just a 5-minute drive from Ocho Rios, Dunn’s River Falls is easily accessible to anyone staying in or near the town.
If your home base is in another town, don’t fret! Wherever your starting point is on the island, getting to Dunn’s River Falls should be a maximum 3-hour drive, such as if you’re coming from Negril. From Kingston, it’ll be just over an hour (dependent on traffic) and, from Montego Bay, it’ll be just under 2 hours.
How Do I Get to Dunn’s River Falls?
Major resorts such as Sandals and Riu have their own shuttles — and in the case of Sandals, boats — which can take you to and from Dunn’s River Falls at scheduled times. Villas and other smaller accommodations may have their own in-house transportation as well or will, at the very least, help you charter a ride.
If you sign up with a tour company for a tour that includes Dunn’s River Falls, you also won’t have to worry about getting to and from the attraction.
Taking the bus or catching a taxi on your own is also an option but public transport in Jamaica can be quite a nightmare (even for locals!). It’s recommended that you have a bit of experience with the ins and out of how buses and taxis operate in Jamaica before doing so.
When to Visit Dunn’s River Falls
One of the greatest allures of Jamaica as a tourist destination is the weather. This tropical island is warm year-round, with temperatures consistently in the range of about 72°F and 89°F. Jamaica has a long rainy season from May to early November, with a bit of respite in July and August.
Rain most often comes in the form of afternoon showers. The water at the Falls is always cool but, on rainy days, it’ll be just a bit colder. Though an absolutely amazing experience at any time of the year, visiting the Falls outside of the rainy season is better, weather-wise.
The rainy season does, however, have the benefit of generally being less busy in terms of tourist traffic.
The Falls are open 7 days a week, from 8:30 AM to 4 PM. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday are typically the best days to plan a visit. Saturdays and Sundays aren’t bad but expect a moderate crowd of locals. C
ruise ships are the most important things to keep in mind because, when they dock, the Falls will be downright flooded with tourists. Cruise ships most often dock at Ocho Rios on Wednesdays and you should check the cruise ship schedule for Ocho Rios before planning your visit.
If you yourself are visiting on a cruise ship, try to get to the Falls as early as you can.
To steer clear of the midday rush on any day, it’s best to visit as early or as late in the day as possible (keeping in mind the amount of time you’ll need to climb and experience the falls, as outlined in the next section).
What to Expect at Dunn’s River Falls
Climbing The Falls
The main attraction at Dunn’s River Falls is, of course, the waterfalls! Climbing the Falls is the most popular activity among all visitors. There are two ways to trek up the Falls: the wet climb and the dry climb.
The wet climb, as the name would suggest, has you make your way up to the summit through the running water of the Falls, over natural rock and soil. You’ll definitely want to be wearing your swimsuit or clothes that dry quickly!
A pair of water shoes or other reliably anti-slip footwear is also a must. The climb itself will take about 45 minutes to an hour and you’ll be part of a group led by a tour guide. Considering the time it takes to prepare and then to stop a few times midway to take in the scenery and snap pics, expect the full experience to take about an hour and a half.
Though not a rule, it’s common practice for groups to make a human chain and hold each other’s hands, to increase stability. The wet climb takes you all the way to the summit, where you can bask in your achievement and in the glorious landscape below!
From the summit of the Falls, adrenaline chasers can get their fix by riding the zipline back down to the base.
If you’d rather not get wet or you’re not able to do the wet climb, you can still experience the Falls with the dry climb. Among the natural beauty of the Falls, the dry climb manages to incorporate a few manmade elements in an unobtrusive way.
This includes handrails and some sections of steps, as well as a few lagoons off to the side if you’d like to rest or get your toes wet. There are also a few spots where the river itself naturally makes its way near the trail! Be aware that the dry climb doesn’t take you all the way up to the summit as the wet climb does.
The Beach & Other Attractions
Located at the base of the waterfall is a beautiful white-sand beach that opens up into the Caribbean Sea. The water here is amazing, as you get refreshing, cool bursts of water from the river and waterfall into the sea. It’s a perfect place to chill before your climb or after you’ve made your way down (or if you’d just rather not climb at all!).
Dunn’s River Falls’ full name is “Dunn’s River Falls & Park”. That latter part comes into play with the Central Gardens. These are three beautiful gardens on the premises, dotted with merchandise kiosks, food stands, an ice cream stand, and a photo booth. In the center of the gardens is a kiddie waterpark called the Splashpad. The gardens are the perfect spot for a picnic and there’s also a restaurant at the Falls that serves authentic Jamaican food.
What to Bring to Dunn’s River Falls
To make your trip to Dunn’s River Falls go as smoothly as possible, there are a few essentials — as well as a few nice-to-haves — you’ll want to make sure you bring with you.
Here’s a basic list of what to bring to Dunn’s River Falls:
- Money for the admission fee, as well as for food and souvenirs. The admission fees go as follows:
- US $25 for non-resident adults
- US $17 for non-resident children (12 and under)
- JM $1000 for resident adults
- JM $500 for resident children (12 and under)
- Swimwear or quick-drying clothes
- Anti-slip water shoes
- Waterproof camera or a waterproof cellphone protector/pouch
- Optional change of clothes for after the climb (there are locker rooms on-site)