Since I’m just starting out, I thought to myself “Why not choose one Jamaica’s most popular attractions?”, which arguably is Dunn’s River Falls. Now if you’re like me, I know what you may be thinking, and it’s prolly along the lines of “But I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing”. But you have to remind yourself, there is a reason everyone else is doing it. Tourist traps exist for a reason and in this particular case, aside from the crowds and oversaturation, Dunn’s River is a really beautiful, somewhat unique attraction. I’ve taken some time out to think of the countries I’ve been to and the waterfalls I’ve visited, and thus far I really haven’t come upon the type of waterfall that Dunn’s River offers, except in Ocho Rios (must be a hotbed for these kinds of waterfalls!). I’m not saying they don’t exist, and if anyone has any great examples of waterfalls that they can climb continuously for half an hour on natural, terraced stairs, then I’d love to hear about them!
Apparently their aren’t many waterfalls that end at a beach but here we are!
It’s funny, but I decided to write about Dunn’s River Falls thinking I’ve gotten so much experience on it – it’s only an hour from home and I feel like I’ve gone a dozen or so times. But introspectively, I realize I really haven’t gone that often. For some reason, if we have done something a few times our mind gives us the impression we have been doing it our entire life. But that’s furthest from the truth. In the last 15 years I have only been to Dunn’s River Falls twice, and the last time about 4 years ago, I had only just watched from the sidelines. So I figured in the name of research why not give it a quick climb since it’s been so long. I set out on my lunch break to do just that (actually I wasn’t going to go again as I was swamped with work but then I locked myself out my office). On a side note, this is the first event I’ve officially done for the blog in the name of research, but I already love that I can use research as an excuse, and wondering what other ‘research’ I can get up to in the future!
Speaking or research I’ve Googled Dunn’s River Falls and there are three websites which I can’t comprehend other than to just confuse people. Jamaica Tourist Board get in touch with me and we can talk synergy; 3 websites seems amateur for your biggest attraction! Here are my 5 ways to climb Dunn’s River Falls (not literally duh, they’re just tips!).
- Don’t pretend to be a local
So most people prolly wouldn’t pretend to do this, so this goes out to all the fellow rebels! Well I’m happy to report, don’t bother to waste your time saying things like “Irie man” and chowing down on some jerk chicken in hopes of getting in at a reduced cost ‘cause it wont work. More importantly, if you are a Jamaican reading this make sure you carry some form of local ID with you, as authentic patois alone wont work for you either! In my small example I went up to the ticket counter with as much of an English accent as I could muster, and said a simple “Hullo” to which the attendant responded “That will be $20 dollars”. So already we know they don’t ask you if you’re local or foreign, instead deciding that for themselves. When I explained I was Jamaican and took off the fake accent it still got me nowhere until, I produced identification as such.
- Don’t pay for a locker if you don’t have to.
Well this one is obvious and why would anyone pay for something they don’t have to! But chances are you have a wallet or phone or something you can’t afford to get wet so you’re prolly going to have to rent the locker. What really annoyed me is that the rental of the locker cost more than the entry fee itself (the local entry fee that is). I really thought about leaving my car keys with one of the employees sitting around, but I had already gotten in trouble with one set of keys from morning and didn’t want my blog post to read ‘Why you shouldn’t climb Dunn’s River Falls with your car keys’. Now there are two sets of lockers, a set by the attendant who sells keys and the others down closer to the beach. Unless you plan on lounging around and going back to the beach AFTER you finish your climb (which I’m not sure why you would as there are plenty other nicer warmer beaches to go hang out at) make sure to choose the locker closest to locker attendant. I know this may be considered spelling it out for people but you climb UP the waterfalls so this will logistically save you time once you have completed the falls.
- Double Band it!
Now this was by far the most laughable thing of the day. I pay for my locker only to be handed a small gold key with two rubber bands attached to it; I kid you not! I had a good debate with the locker attendant as to the safety of this rubber band holding the access to my valuables and he assured me it’s the best thing since slice bread, better than the previous system being used (God knows what technology we will be using 100 years from now). Even so what I found out is, if you do lose the key, and I can only imagine how often that happens, then you simply forfeit your key deposit but get your valuables back anyways, whew! Regardless, as already pointed out I am Asian and already upset at what I consider a hefty locker fee so I don’t wish to give them a dollar more of my money. So I suggest strongly that you double band the rubber band over your wrist, heck I even intertwisted them and secured the key under my entrance band! For those of you not familiar with the term double band, it’s kind of like double bagging, which if you don’t know what that is, then you have more important things to read up on than ‘5 ways to climb Dunn’s River Falls’!
- Be Courageous, Climb yourself!
So I don’t have any scientific evidence behind this one and I can’t actually recall the last time I climbed with a guide (as the last time I climbed was in 2004 and the 4 of us did it ourselves), so maybe it may be good to climb with a guide. But if you’re complaining about Dunn’s River Falls being too clichéd, then I figure the last thing you want to do is climb with a guide. In my case I woulda done it (its complimentary although you will want to tip ‘em) but there was a 10 minute wait, as they want a group to cue up so they have enough persons and I just couldn’t be bothered. I remembered it being slightly difficult when I was a child, and one particular spot that seemed difficult without receiving help but then again I was a child and I’m sure it woulda been intimidating if I was barely bucking 3 feet! In any case I saw the part of the falls right before the road underpass that I remembered being the most difficult, and now there are handrails there. 100% if you’re of average fitness level the falls is doable solo, as I just did for the first time. The benefits of doing it with your team include doing it at your pace, stopping to take pictures without persons you don’t know in the background, and of course not feeling obligated to tip a guide. Just tek it easy man! And for the record, this is just a recommendation, if you know you’re old, fragile, have a heart condition or anything else that makes you feel unfit to do this alone, then get a guide! Don’t be trying to do this yourself and drop, bump your head and try and sue me! You is the one that makes your own decisions for your life – I’m not even a paid consultant, what do I know!
- Be free, take what you need and leave everything else behind!
So to be clear, this is not a nudist advertisement so don’t drop trou and leave everything hanging. Simply put, take what you need and leave everything else behind. In this case, aside from your swimsuit/trunks and WATERPROOF camera the only other thing I’d recommend are water shoes. They sell these at the falls but I’m not sure of the price as I have my own. What I wouldn’t suggest you carry is things like sunglasses, especially your designer glasses as it’s a perfect place to lose them. How do I know this? Well although I didn’t lose my glasses I carried them on the falls so I would look cool in my pictures, but they were more of a hassle than an asset. The water pressure cascading from Dunn’s River Falls is harsh and so you basically want to minimize anything you have to carry that doesn’t involve some kind of strap. And in the end the waterfalls are mostly covered by the rainforest anyways so there isn’t much sun and you will probably look like a douche bag with your glasses on, just like I’m sure I did waving around my selfie stick.
P.S forgive the watermarks in half the pictures but I did take them myself and in all my years of using a GoPro still don’t know the best method of clearing them when your hands are still wet. If someone has a lifehack for this lemme know!
In case you thought i was lying: