If you’re one of those would-be travelers who only associates Jamaica with white beaches and friendly natives who talk with a cool island accent, then guess again, because in addition to those things, Jamaica is home to a surprising number of waterfalls.
The island also boasts a fascinating history and friendly people.
If all this sounds like it’s up your alley, then buy that black, green and yellow tank-top with the picture of Bob Marley on the front and book your flight.
Below are 15 amazing waterfalls in Jamaica.
1. Dunn’s River Falls
At nearly 200 feet from top to bottom, Dunn’s River Falls are also famous for their length too, which is nearly 600 feet.
Comprised of numerous and distinct sections, the falls are step-like in appearance and feature small pools dotted over their length.
They’re a perennial favorite for their location near a stunningly white beach where the falls’ water empties into the Caribbean.
A rigorous one-hour hike and climb is required to the falls, and is usually done with a local guide who knows the ins and outs of the area.
Surrounded by encroaching rainforest on both sides, there are easier stairs leading to other viewing areas if the hike is out of the question.
2. Blue Hole
What’s better than a big blue hole filled with invitingly clear water? The answer is of course, is a big blue hole filled with water near a charming waterfall.
The swimming portion of Blue Hole is full of aquamarine waters that beckon swimmers like a siren song.
The other portion is the 20-foot tall waterfall, which is located about 10 minutes upstream and is easily accessible by the path beside the river.
Located in Ocho Rios, the falls are often visited with one of the many tour guides available in town, or as part of a group tour, which can be a lot of fun if you get stuck with a fun crowd.
3. Tacky Falls
Considered one of Jamaica’s most pristine waterfalls, Tacky Falls wasn’t named for its gaudy and garish appearance, but the sticky rocks that are around the falls.
Located in the parish of St. Mary in the island’s northeastern portion, the falls are accessible by a moderately difficult hike on a trail that can be a bit treacherous in spots, so they’re not particularly kid or granny-friendly.
At nearly 200 feet, the falls are majestic and will be well worth the effort required to get there.
And luckily, since most tourists are too lazy to hike through the jungle, you’ll likely have some peace and quiet time at the falls.
4. Laughing Waters
Situated along one of the most scenic beaches in Jamaica, the falls and surrounding scenery at Laughing Waters are no laughing matter.
And if you’re a James Bond aficionado like I am, you’ll want to check out the beach where a scantily-clad Ursula Andress emerged from the surf in Dr. No.
Located near Dunn’s River Falls, you can hit both spots in the same day. Although the site is owned by a private hospitality company and most visitors are technically trespassing if they enter anywhere other than the official entrance, nobody seems to take it too seriously.
5. Cane River Falls
If you find yourself outside Kingston with an empty bottle of Red Stripe and a glaringly empty spot on your itinerary, then grab a cab and head to Cane River Falls.
About a 15-minute drive from downtown in the Bull Bay area is Cane River Falls, a frequent destination for locals and adventurous tourists looking to jump, swim and sip a few cold ones to counteract that oppressive Jamaican heat.
There are a few large and inviting pools at the fall’s base, so find one you like and hop in.
6. Nanny Falls
Don’t be fooled by the name, Nanny Falls isn’t popular with elderly women with big glasses, pith helmets and walkers.
In fact, the falls are named after Nanny of the Maroons, who’s famous in Jamaica for leading many ex-slaves to their freedom via a route that included the falls.
About an hour from Port Antonio, the pools below the falls are invigorating, and the natural beauty is just screaming to be photographed.
Due to their location, you may want to hire a guide in Port Antonio, and with a little luck, he’ll be familiar with the area’s layout and interesting history.
There’s also a museum nearby that you’ll want to check out.
7. Reggae Falls
With a name like Reggae Falls, you know they’ve got to be in Jamaica, and that they’ll be a place where fun will surely be had.
Located in St. Thomas’ parish, Reggae Falls aren’t usually crowded due to their off-the-beaten-path location, and the falls are also purported to have healing properties which are found in the warm and sulphur-rich water spouting from the rocks amidst the falls.
Reggae Falls lie on the Johnson River, and despite their name you probably won’t stumble into an impromptu Ziggy Marley concert, but you will find a great place to relax and contemplate the next stop on your Jamaican adventure.
8. Reach Falls
Nearly every Jamaican itinerary sports a trip to the famous Ocho Rios, and only about an hour and a half away, a trip to Reach Falls near Portland in Jamaica’s eastern portion are a great day trip to get away from the mobs of sunblock-smeared tourists.
The area around the falls is known for its exotic plants, flowers and birds, many of which aren’t found anywhere else.
The falls are about an hour from Port Antonio, and once you get there you’ll feel like you’re farther away from civilization than you really are.
The falls are known for their interesting history tied to the island’s slave trade, and the heart-shaped pool that acts as a natural whirlpool due to the forceful water flow.
9. Scatter Falls
Located in Port Antonio, which is the capital of Portland Parish on Jamaica’s northeastern coast, Scatter Falls aren’t grand in size, but they more than make up for it with remote splendor.
About an hour from Kingston, the falls are a great day trip, that can be combined with other activities like hiking and spelunking through the labyrinth of limestone caves in the area, that is if you don’t mind crawling through tunnels potentially full of large, hairy spiders, bats and snakes.
If that sounds more like a punishment than a vacation activity, stick to the swimming and relaxing.
10. Turtle River Falls
Comprised of more than a dozen mini-falls which come together to create a natural masterpiece, the Turtle River Falls are located in ever-popular Ocho Rios.
Sporting a natural swimming area that’s more akin to pool than pond, there’s also a Koi pond full of miraculously colored and graceful fish, and untouched natural surroundings the likes of which you may not see again anytime soon.
There’s also a bird sanctuary in the gardens around the falls, and there’s a fee to enter the park. Guides are available if you’d like to learn a bit about the local geology, flora and fauna in addition to seeing the falls.
11. Fishdone Waterfall
If the fact that most tourists have never even heard of Fishdone Waterfall is reason enough for you to visit, then pack a backpack and get going.
Located on a coffee plantation a few miles from Portland, the site is also home to gardens and a mini-museum operated by the plantation’s owners.
Enveloped in pristine rainforest, tours of the facility are offered that will include the area’s history, geology, and the ancient cultures that lived in the area.
Call ahead to make sure they’re open when you intend to visit, or ask in town.
Don’t forget to pick up some authentic Jamaican coffee at the museum gift shop before heading home.
12. Kwaaman Waterfall
Located in the parish of St. Mary near Robins’ and Mahoe Bay on Jamaica’s north-central coast, Kwaaman Waterfall is one of Jamaica’s largest at nearly 100 feet.
The fall’s location near the aforementioned tourist areas makes it a great place to see if you’ve got a few morning or afternoon hours to kill.
The pools below the falls are surprisingly deep and refreshing, and the view upward to the wispy waters as they are buffeted by the wind gives the falls a smoky appearance.
13. Falling Edge Waterfall
Like most tourist sites that require a half-hour hike to reach, Falling Edge Waterfall isn’t usually packed with visitors.
The path leading to the falls winds its way through some pretty thick vegetation, but you’ll be greatly rewarded for all that exertion.
The waterfall is located near Kingston, and is best visited during the hot, summer season, especially if you plan on swimming and making a day of it.
It’s a great place to go with a few friends and some cold beverages, but be sure to wear decent shoes and take a bottle of bug spray as the forest is abuzz with annoying gnats.
14. Original Mayfield Falls
Not to be confused with the Unoriginal Mayfield Falls, Original Mayfield falls are a diamond in the rough, nestled in one of Jamaica’s main eco-tourism sites.
Be sure to bring sturdy, waterproof shoes, a dry change of clothes and your willingness to get wet and wild.
The park around the falls is chock full of useful things like a health spa, a professional babysitting service and even hair braiding, if you’d like to get those dreadlocks you’ve been secretly coveting since that Milli-Vanilli concert you went to in the ‘90s.
On certain days of the week there are even cultural events and performances of traditional songs and dances which you won’t see anywhere else.
15. YS Falls
One of Jamaica’s most loved and visited falls is YS Falls.
Located in a nature-centered area, the area is brimming with beautiful gardens, majestic trees, and lots of colorful island wildlife.
And as if that wasn’t enough, there actually 7 falls, though not all are easily accessible due to the rocky landscape.
The areas where swimming is permitted are clearly marked, and there are even lifeguards positioned at the swimming areas.
If swimming isn’t your strong suit, don’t worry, there are shallow pools for land-lubbers and toddlers.
Zip-lining is available too if you’d like to give it a go with some professional assistance.