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Things to Do in Jamaica With Kids – Dunn’s River Falls

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“We’re climbing a waterfall?  Have you lost your minds?”  My eleven-year-old daughter asked incredulously when I announced our plans to climb Dunn’s River Falls.

“No darling daughter, your parents have not gone crazy on you!  And we aren’t just climbing one but a collection of waterfalls!”  I firmly responded to her burgeoning tween stubbornness.

While my daughter most likely envisioned something along the lines of Yosemite’s majestic Vernal Falls, she was surprised by the more serene and less treacherous natural wonder laid out before her as we hiked down to the beachfront opening to the Dunn’s River Falls climb.

Located just outside Ocho Rios, Dunn’s River Falls are no ordinary waterfalls.  Just imagine a collection of cool fresh falls fed by spring water and rich with calcium carbonate cascading 600 feet down a smooth staircase of travertine. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?   It is thought of as a “living phenomenon” by geologists.  This is because the crevices, structures and natural pools along the falls were cut by the water’s current and its path is constantly rebuilt by the sediments in its spring water.

Dunn’s is also one of the few falls in the world that empties right into the sea. And if the surroundings look familiar to you, well then perhaps you’re a fan of the James Bond movies.  Dr. No includes a scene where actress Ursula Andress takes a walk on Dunn’s River Beach.

Not strictly a tourist destination, it is not uncommon to find locals among the climbers on Dunn’s River Falls. Guided tours take large groups up limestone slabs and through sparkling waters encouraging them to enjoy the experience in a hand-in-hand human chain formation.  They will even photograph your family posed under waterways or performing a cannonball dive into an unexpectedly deep pool part way up the climb.

There are several lagoons to hang out in during your ascent. If there are non-climbers in your crew don’t worry, they can still participate by walking the path alongside the water and even take memorable photos from many viewing points. No matter how you decide to enjoy the falls, your family is in for a unique experience.

As for my daughter, despite her hesitance when first told of our plans, she scaled the falls like a champ.  The look of achievement on her face made the whole excursion worth the drive.  Of course when asked for her opinion on the adventure, she weighed in with true tween attitude, “Yeah, it was alright I guess!”


  • This is a great activity for kids over 8 years old.   A climb up the falls can be chaotic with multiple groups attempting the feat at the same time.  Older kids who can follow directions and stick to the activity without getting overwhelmed will do well on this climb.
  • Wear sturdy durable shoes that you don’t mind getting wet.
  • Bring a water proof camera. Believe me when I tell you, you will want to document this experience.
  • This climb should be made unencumbered. It is not recommended that you attempt it with backpacks or anything else strapped to you.


  • Shoe rental:  Did you bring only flip flops or sandals on your trip?  You can rent proper foot wear.
  • Lockers: Literally everything attached to you will get wet during this activity.  It is advised that you rent a locker if you have valuables or anything else on you that must stay dry.
  • Picnic Spots:  This is very physical activity and your family will be ready for some nourishment afterwards.  Whether you decide to purchase food at the snack bar or pack a picnic, there are plenty of scenic spots for fueling up.
  • Changing Areas:  There are lots of changing rooms on site for putting on swim suits or slipping back into dry clothes.

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Kristine lives in Mountain View, California, where she is the mother of a gifted girl athlete and a special needs charmer. Like almost everything in her house,…

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