We’re back in Jamaica and decided to do something adventurous with the kids now that they are older. 9 and 11 to be exact. This time we sought to explore Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios and Mystic Mountain, but more on the latter later.
Dunns River Falls is about an hour and a half drive from our resort, the Hyatt Ziva Rosehall, in Montego Bay. We reserved a private tour instead of a group tour because we had time restraints. This was the best option for our family since kids get grumpy and hungry during the most inconvenient times. Having our own driver made things a lot easier as a family.
Entry to the Park
The cost to get into Jamaica Dunn’s River Falls Park is $20.00 for adults and $10 for kids. If you arranged an excursion through your hotel or cruise, the entry should be included in your cost.
Park hours are from 8:30am-4pm 7 days a week. On cruise days it is open at 7 am.
I can’t tell which is the best days to go, but we went on a Monday (off-peak season) and there were very little crowds.
What to Pack
Everyone should wear bathing suits under their clothing. Pack a towel, but you can leave it in the car or bus to dry off later. Water shoes are a must. Tennis shoes or sneakers work but will get submerged in water. Water shoes are sold in the shops inside the park for $10 (off-peak season). There are also waterproof bags for your phones that I highly recommend bringing or purchasing at the gift shop.
There are lockers available to rent for $7 US with a $3 deposit. We left our larger items in the car and put our phones, cash, and cards in a small pouch we brought with us.
Official tour guides are available at the falls and they are paid by the park but also work off of tips which are almost expected. You can opt to climb the falls on your own, though it’s not recommended for your first time. If you get the tour guide you will have a group of 10 people. There is one lead guide and one videographer. The videographer helps a little with navigating the falls but his primary job is taking photos and video to sell to you as a souvenir.
Height Requirements and other Restrictions
First of all, let me state that there are First Aid offices located throughout the park. They are there for a reason. Make no mistake about it, the climb to the top of the falls is treacherous. For these reasons, kids must be over 36″ or 3 feet to climb the falls. It is also recommended that anyone pregnant, with heart conditions, back knee or neck problems and other significant health ailments, do not climb the falls.
There are landing areas along the side of the falls for people to look over and watch you climb. If someone needs to sit out, they will still have a good view of others climbing. Also, if adults need to take turns going on the climb to sit with little ones, there is lots to see in do at the park.
The Climb up Dunn’s River Falls
Starting from the bottom of the falls all the way to the top takes about an hour and a half. Of course, if you have more nimble visitors within your group, it could be done quicker. At the base of the falls is a small beach and First Aid Area. You can easily take a rest here and retreat to sun and sand if your day allows it.
There are approximately 6-10 natural landings on the falls. I wasn’t counting but I know there were many. The guide will instruct you to form a human chain by linking hands and help the next person up the rocks. This method allows everyone to climb at the same pace and on the same track. Some people found this to be more difficult and preferred to have two free hands to hold on to something stable. Whatever you decide just take your time, be very careful where you step, and help the person behind you.
Climbing Dunn’s River Falls With Kids
My kids really enjoyed climbing Dunn’s River Falls. There were places that were a little more challenging and somewhat scary for them (under the bridge), but completing the climb at each landing brought on a new wave of excitement.
The falls do not get deep enough to require life jackets. But there are some areas that were deeper than others. I would estimate one area we had a fun slide into was about 4ft deep. But the guide pointed out that area as being deep and gave us the option to go around. As long as you stay on course and follow your guide, you have a better chance of avoiding these unexpected deep pools.
On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most difficult to climb, I would rate Dunn’s River Falls to be a 3. But then again, I never climbed a waterfall before this.
More to Do at Dunn’s River Falls
If you want to spend the whole day at Dunn’s River Falls, there’s a small splash area for kids with a slide. There’s also a garden for you to walk around and explore. There are several snack shops offering food and drink for sale. The beef patties were authentic and not overly priced.Towards the exit of the park, there is a Craft Market and Food Court.
Dunn’s River Falls offers a variety of fun and leisure ways to spend your day in Jamaica. If you do happen to run to run out of things to do, Mystic Mountain is less than 5 minutes away.