Dunn’s River Falls _ This is The Ultimate Guide

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Dunn’s River Fall, Reggae Music, Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, and Jerk are three things most people associate with Jamaica. Therefore, it is impossible not to hear any of them mention in a conversation about being Jamaican or taking a trip to Jamaica. 

The craze about Dunn’s River Falls baffled me for many years.

Bob and Usain, I can understand; they are superstars.

Jamaican Jerk chicken and pork are simply the best foods on the planet. The world wouldn’t be the same without them. 

However, for some reason, Dunns River craze, I couldn’t get the. 

I’ve been there a few times and climbed the falls, and yes, it’s beautiful, but it was just a waterfall. There are many of them on the Island. 

Being in lockdown for what seems like a decade has changed my perspective. 

Not being able to travel freely and do the regular island stuff_ party, free beach, river, and waterfalls afford me some time to reflect.

 Although the lockdown in Jamaica paled compared to countries like Australia and Canada, moving about was difficult. 

Some attractions remind open, but the nightly curfew, the hassle to enter, and potential exposure to covid kept me at home. Also, the government closed most free local spots for a significant period.

Dunn's River Falls & Park entrance
Dunn’s River Falls & Park entrance

Table of Contents

First Trip to Dunn’s River Falls After the Lockdown

Dunn’s River Falls remind open for most of the pandemic. Therefore, the property management enforced safety protocols such as temperature checks, hand washing, sanitization, and social distancing.

Also, the area is secure; thus, they could control entry, unlike most free attractions, where it was impossible to enforce covid safety protocols. 

I have been itching to climb Dunn’s River for a while; the government’s announcement that there was no more lockdown was like a rebirth.

I could now fulfill my renewed desire to explore Jamaica.  

Dunn’s River was the first place on my radar. I have watched numerous youtube videos, read countless blogs, and viewed many Instagram photos in preparation for this day. 

After fulfilling another hobby ( fishing ), I put it on hold for almost a year, I grabbed my essentials, camera towel, and drone, and we were on our way. 

It took about 40 mins to reach Ochi Rios by the toll starting from Spanish. Toll cost JMd1400 and JMD1900 from Ferry

Check out my post on how to drive in Jamaica.  

We Parked in the massive parking lot, walked over to the ticking boot, and waited to buy three adult tickets for an eternity. 

Handwashing stations and signs reminding guests to follow covid safety protocols were everywhere. I could only imagine how difficult it was to deal with large crowds during cruise ship days or holidays. 

If I had booked online, the waiting would have been significantly less.

Patrons waiting to buy tickets at Dunn's River
Ticket lines

Cost to enter Dunn’s, River Falls

Tourists pay USD25 for adults and USD17 for children to enter Dunns River Fall, while Jamaicans pay JMD1000 for adults and JMD500 for children. Kids under four years old are free. 

There is no re-entry, and you must show a valid National or School ID To access discount rates. 

Parking is free, with signs and security to ensure your vehicle remains safe. 

Park spaces are enormous and can accommodate coasters and large tour buses. 

Entry cost at Dunns's River Falls
Entry cost
Dunn's River Falls parking lot waiting area
Dunn’s River Falls parking lot waiting area

Discover the Dunn’s River Fall Craze

Once you go, you know, was a slogan the Jamaica tourist Board used for many years in their promotion Island. It so describes my Dunn’s River Falls experience after the lockdown perfectly. 

After passing the welcoming sign visitor, the sounds of joyful children were the first thing that hit my eardrums. The pure joy on their faces as they splash and slide. For them, this seems like kiddie’s heaven. No coincidence that Kidspalshpad is the first attraction guests sees before the falls. It’s like an appetizer for the main course. 

Kiddies splash and slide at Dunn's River
Kiddies section

Zipline

The sound of adult screams at the top of the tall tree as they fly through the air reminds me of one of my bucket lists—zipline at Dunn’s River. I could only imagine the view from those gigantic trees and the exhilarating feelings zipping among them. 

The Welcoming Roar of the falls

As we got closer, the enchanting roar of the falls got louder.

It sounded like a stadium filled with thousands of adoring fans chanting welcome home. It quickened my steps to get bottom of the fall and start my ascend, which seemed like heaven on earth. 

The photo deck delayed our hurried descent to the beach. Freshwater gushing over limestone rocks, happy climbers basking in nature best_ is hard to ignore. 

I had to resist the temptation to run under a fall and let mother nature touch my body with her magic fingers and take away all my aches. 

Dunns River Falls Picture Deck
Dunns River Falls

Long steps to the beach

Getting to the beach took forever; walking down those long steps will play numbers on your knees if you are physically challenged or elder. 

It would be great for fitness buffs to get in some leg work on vacation.  

Steps at Dunn's River
Steps at Dunn’s River

Dunn’s River Beach

Going by what you see on social media, you might think there is no beach at Dunns River. But there is one. 

Dunn’s River Falls has a beach with a fantastic view of the cascading waterfall. It has soft white sand like all the magnificent beaches in the Northcoast.

 Dunn’s River Beach is average, but the waterfall in the back and the sensation of cold water from the river mixing with the warm ocean water rival the iconic Frenchman Cover beach in Portland. 

The beach is perfect for people who can’t climb the falls but want a piece of the Dunns River magic. 

Younger swimmers will enjoy it because the water is shallow enough, and the waves are not choppy. There are also lifeguards on duty and lockers nearby. 

Dunn's River beach
Dunn’s River beach

Where is Dunn’s River Falls

Dunn’s River Falls is on the Island’s South Coast, where you find most tourist attractions and resorts. It is just outside the tourist town Ochi Rios in the parish of Saint Anns. Other popular attractions in this area are Dolphin Cove, Mystic Mountain, Turtle River Falls and Garden, Blue Hole, and Kanoka Falls. Margarita Vill is just five minutes drive away. 

How Far is Dunn’s River

How far is Dunn’s River Fall from Kingston, Negril, and Montego Bay? 

Dunns River is about 81 kilometers or 50 miles from Kingston, Jamaica’s capital city; it will take about one hour to travel by the toll road and about one and a half hours by the other route. 

Interesting points along the non-toll route are Flat Bridge along the scenic River Road and the Fern Gully in Saint Ann. Unfortunately, sections of those roads are windy and dangerous, so it is best to navigate by experienced drivers.  

Dunn’s River is 93 kilometers from Montego Bay, about 57 miles. So it takes about one hour and 45 minutes. They are on the North Coast, so there is just one route. 

Negril, which is almost at the tip of the Island, is about 3 hours away from Dunns River Fall if you drive on the coast. However, passing through Montego Bay could add 1/2 an hour because it is sometimes congested. There are many attractions along the 173 kilometers ( 107 miles) journey. Doctor Cave beach, Green Grato Cave, Rose Hall Great House, Mathra Brae ( rafting on the river), and Luminous Lagoon ( Glistening Water) are some attractions you can check out.

 Book a tour with Chukka to visit the Dunns river fall and other attractions as part of your package. Get a transfer from your hotel to the attractions with guided tours. 

Things to do at Dunn’s River Falls

The most popular thing to do at Dunns River Falls is climbing the 180ft waterfalls and dipping in the many swimming holes. Although it is the main reason to visit, there are other enjoyable activities. 

Swimming

Swimming at the beach, the freshwater from the river meets with to sea and gives a unique experience; some sections are cold. 

The beach is not rough, and the water doesn’t pass the neck of an average adult standing. So even nonswimmers can enjoy the water. Lifeguards are also on duty to help if you get into any difficulties. 

Catamaran on Dunn's River beach
Catamaran on Dunn’s River beach

Take photos

Dunn’s River Fall provides the perfect backdrop for beautiful photos, either climbing the falls or on the beach with the fall in the background. You can take your picture or use a photographer on-site. It will cost you about USD40. 

Zipline

Zipline atop the gigantic tree at Dunn’s River Falls is a unique experience. You get to zip over this magnificent waterfall. The zipline costs USD 40 for tourists and JMD$ 1000 for Jamaicans. You will need close-toe shoes and dry clothes for this experience. 

Kiddies Water Slide

There is a section of Dunns River for children to play in the water park and go on the slide. 

Picnic in the Garden

If climbing the falls or the steers is too much, you can still have a great time with a picnic at the park. The beautiful trees in the backdrop and the sounds of the river flowing downstream are refreshing. 

Shop

There are authentic Jamaican craft items for sale at Dunns River Falls; if you are interested in getting souvenirs is an excellent place to shop. However, prices might not be for everyone, and some might see vendor sale tactics as a turn-off. 

Dunn's River Falls Entry
Dunn’s River Falls Entry
Shops at Dunns River Fall
Shops

Best time to go to Dunn’s River

The best time to go to Dunns River depends on what you want to experience. Here is a guide to help you choose the best time. 

Monday to Wednesday are the day’s Cruise Ship dock at the Ocho Rios Port. They open at 7:30 on Cruise ship days but at 8:30 am on regular days. 

 Those are the best days to visit if you like the tourist crowd. 

Jamaicans like to go on weekend excursions, especially those working in the city. They usually flock to attractions like Dunns River Falls. So, if you want to mingle with locals, Saturdays and Sundays are the best days. 

It is usually busy during major holidays at Dunns River, especially these days, Easter, Christmas Imanciaption, and Independence weekend. Therefore, the waiting time is long if you purchase tickets at the property. So avoid those dates if you don’t like the crowd. Or book your ticket here. 

Best To time enjoy Dunn’s River without the traffic.

The best time to enjoy Dunn’s River with the traffic is weekdays on non Cruise Ship days. So there is less traffic, and you can tour the property with fewer people climbing the falls or lounging on the beach.  

Click here to see cruise ship days in Ochi Rios.

Going to the falls early in the morning is an excellent way to avoid the crowd, especially on weekends and Jamaican Holidays. You will encounter fewer people if you go there from 8:30 am to 10 am. You could also visit in the late afternoon when everyone is leaving, but be mindful that they close at 4 pm. 

Swim hole at Dunn's River
Swim hole at Dunn’s River

What to take to Dunn’s River?

Swimwear and towel are all you need to enjoy your day at Dunn’s River Falls. However, water shoes to climb the fall and a water resistance camera to capture those precious memories would be helpful. 

You can take food for a picnic on the lawns or beach if you are on a budget. Food is available for purchase on the property. 

Sunscreen is also another essential item if you stay on the beach. There is lots of shade on the falls, so the sun is not a big problem.

You can buy water shoes on the property or hire a resident photographer. However, it is cheaper to take your shoes and camera. 

It is safe to travel with cash to purchase souvenirs from the craft market at Dunns River Falls; you can rent a locker for JMD 1500. 

Is Dunn’s River Fall challenging to climb

Dunns River Falls is not difficult to climb if you are fit and in good health. However, people with mobility issues who are not in good shape or health will find climbing hard.

Children as young as seven can safely climb Dunns River Falls; however, they need adult supervision. They might get overly enthused and take hasty steps on slippery rocks, causing accidents. 

If you are easily scared, the sound of the water and force will be difficult to overcome. 

In some areas, it is significant enough to move your feet. 

Can I buy Food at Dunn’s River Falls?

Food and drink are available at Dunns River from the snack bar and restaurant. I have never tried the restaurant but did not like the options at the shop close to the falls. 

You can take your food and drink; however, I recommend having a healthy meal before going. After exploring Dunn’s River, you can go to the Margarita Vill or restaurant in Ochi to have a meal and explore the town. 

Dunn's River Falls Restaurants
Dunn’s River Falls Restaurants

How Long does it take to hike the falls?

How long it takes to climb Dunns River Fall is relative. It depends on your fitness level, objective, and whether you are with a tour group or going alone. 

Climbing the falls without stopping or thoroughly enjoying the moment will take 20 to 25 minutes with average fitness and middle age. 

It can take up to three hours if you are with a group of unfit persons who stop to take pictures and enjoy the many pools along the way.

I usually try to get to the top as soon as possible, but I slowed down and truly enjoyed the moment on my last visit. 

Dunn's Fall Picture
Steep climb

Is Dunn’s River Fall worth it?

Dunn’s River Fall is one of the best attractions on the Island. It is safe, clean, and beautiful and gives an experience found nowhere else on the Island. It is picturesque and a perfect backdrop for photos. Even the famous James Bond movie shot a scene there. 

The entry cost is worth it, in fact, too cheap. But, on the other hand, it isn’t easy to put a price tag on such intimacy with nature. The rejuvenation, the peace you get from climbing the falls and indulging, is worth all the money in the world. 

Should you tip Guides at Dunn’s River Fall

Tipping tour guide is at your discretion. It is, however, against company policy. If you notice carefully, you see a sign telling guests not to tip the staff. Regarding outside tour guides, their policy might be different check with your travel agent or the tour companies about their tipping policy.  

Check out this post on tipping in jamaica

How high is Dunns River Falls

Dunns River Falls is 180 feet or 55 meters high and 600 feet or 180 meters long. The fall is natural with little human intervention. There are no steps or rails, so climbers have to choose their path carefully.   

Tips on climbing the falls

If it’s your first time climbing Dunn’s River Falls, it is best to go on a guided tour. The experienced tour guides will ensure your safety while being entertaining. 

I almost learned the hard way by stepping on dark-colored rocks. Avoid those rocks or be extra cautious; they tend to be slippery, and you might be as lucky as me.

Don’t rush to the top. Instead, climb slowly, enjoy the moment, swim in pools, and go under the falls. Trust me; you will appreciate it and feel refreshed at the end. 

Climb with a companion or small group of friends. You will enjoy the moment more and have someone to take your picture.  

Travel with a GoPro or water prove phone or camera, less stressing worrying about water destroying your phone; also, you can take better videos and photos. 

Wear water shoes. Although you safely climb barefoot, there are where the rocks are sharp and might be uncomfortable to walk on. Also, please do not wear slippers; you are setting yourself up for a fall. 

Section of Dunn's River Fall
Section of Dunn’s River Falls

Things to avoid at Dunn’s River

Window shopping

Avoid stopping at the gift shops to admire the artwork and souvenirs if you do not intend to buy them. Some vendors are slightly aggressive with their sales tactics, which might make you uncomfortable. In addition, overly persuasive sellers might take away from the overall experience. 

If you are a local tourist, you might experience it because they usually assume we are not interested or can’t afford to purchase their goods. 

If a seller approaches you, it is ok to say no thanks and keep it moving.

Here are some helpful tips when visiting Jamaica.

Buying tickets on the property

 I purchased tickets at Dunn’s River Falls, once on a major holiday and the other on weekends. Worst decision ever; I waited for an eternity to get access. 

Those who purchased online or booked with a tour company did not have to wait long to access it. It will probably save you an hour or two when you book your tour before. Buy your tickets here or book a tour with Chukka.

Craft items on display at Dunn's River Falls
Craft items on display at Dunn’s River Falls

Safety at Dunn’s River

Safety is a priority for the operators of Dunns River Falls. Therefore, they have adequate security personnel to ensure that patrons are safe. 

It is easy to get the assistance of security or staff because they are all over the place.

Lockers are available, so you secure your valuables. 

Like most tourist areas on the Island, Dunns River is crime-free, but you still need to be mindful. Jamaica is not a utopia. 

Check out this post on how safety In Ochi Rios

Places to stay near Dunn’s River Falls.

There are many beautiful places to stay in Ocho Rios near Dunns River falls. 

Fisherman Point

Fisherman Point is a gated apartment complex in Ocho Rios with many properties listed on Airbnb and other booking sites. You can walk to the town center and access restaurants nearby. It is next door to Margarita Vile. 

Moon Palace

Moon Palace is one of the best all-inclusive hotels in Ochi Rios. It is a favorite for locals and Jamaicans living overseas. Prices are affordable, and the service is excellent. It is about a ten minutes drive from Dunns River Fall. Walking would take about half an hour. 

Jamaican Inn

Jamaican Inn is another iconic place near Dunns River Falls. It’s a family-run all-inclusive resort with five-star ratings. 

They have been a part of Jamaica’s tourism landscape since the 60s. Then, it was the getaway spot for some of America’s biggest celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe. Jamaica Inn is about 9 mins drive away from Dunn’s River Falls.

Sandals Oho Rios

Sandals, another iconic Jamaica brand, is close to Dunns River Falls. It is about a 10 minutes drive. Like Dunn’s River, it is hard to mention Jamaica tourism, and Sandals are not a part of the decision.

Riu Hotel

Rui Hotel is just outside Ocho Rios town center in Mammee Bay. It is about 6 minutes from Dunns River Falls and is a favorite for travelers staying in Ochi. 

This all-inclusive Spanish resort is a good option if you stay in that area. 

Hibiscus Lodge

Hibiscus Lodge is our favorite budget hotel when visiting Oho Rios. This small family-owned hotel sits at the cliff’s edge in Main Street Ochi. It is private and intimate; they have a small swimming pool and a fantastic ocean view. Unfortunately, there is no white sand beach, but you can dip in the ocean if you are a good swimmer willing to walk down the long steers to the sea. 

Hibiscus Lodge is about 5 mins drive from Dunn’s River Fall; walking is possible and takes about 30mins. 

Find and compare places to stay in Ocho Rios here.

Conclusion

Dunn’s River Fall is Jamaica’s most iconic attraction. I can’t imagine Jamaica without this waterfall. Most people take it for granted, including me. However, after the pandemic, the government lifted restrictions, and I discovered why this place is so special to many people. 

Dunn’s River Falls is now one of my favorite attractions on the Island.