On our West Caribbean Carnival Cruise Dunn’s River Falls Jamaica was top of my bucket list for our Ocho Rios shore excursion. Carnival Cruise Lines provide a number of options for shore excursions and you can even opt to just hang around port.
Ocho Rios Jamaica was our first port of call and I was keen to do something exciting, something that the kids would love and talk about when we got home. I had read a bit about Dunn’s River Falls Jamaica and while I knew it would be a challenge for the kids, I wanted something to challenge them as well.
Australia is often referred to as a bit of a nanny state, meaning our government is overprotective and and we are sometimes over regulated when it comes to safety. If Dunn’s River Falls were in Australia, it is highly unlikely that we would be able to have the same experience as we did at Dunn’s River Falls Jamaica. This of course made it twice as attractive in my view.
After careful consideration we decided to take the tour organised by the Carnival Cruise team. We knew we had a bit to fit in over the day and the Carnival patrons receive preferred treatment. We knew that if we weren’t back at the Carnival Dream on time, there was a chance that the ship would leave without us. We weren’t keen on taking that risk particularly as a group of 7 people.
The Carnival Cruise excursion team were relatively organised given there were 4000 people on board the Carnival Dream. People were organised into groups and then directed to the appropriate mini bus with others doing the same shore excursion. We spent the day with the same group of passengers.
Dunn’s River Falls Jamaica are fed from a spring in the rainforest which is rich with calcium carbonate. They’re 180 metres long and fall 55 metres directly onto the beach and into the Caribbean Sea . On arrival we were introduced to our host who was friendly and coordinated our time at Dunn’s River Falls Jamaica. We were given the option to rent a locker for our things and purchase river shoes before heading down to the beach to start our climb.
I very quickly came to understand why people think Dunn’s River Falls Jamaica is dangerous! Once we were introduced to our cameraman and tour leader we were told to hold hands and create a human chain. So picture at least 500 people across 20 or so groups, all holding hands and climbing up a slippery waterfall. It looked like an accident waiting to happen! But it also looked oh so much fun.
Up we headed with our cameraman jumping around in front of us making us scream Jamaica-mon. Yes they do actually say that as well as yeah-mon. I was at the back of our family group of seven as I had the waterproof camera. So not only was I climbing the waterfall but I was trying to take photos at the same time. I was supposed to be holding the girl behind me’s hand but I was busy taking photos and I’m a bit balance-challenged so needed my hands for balance.
We were lucky to have a couple of guys that were competent climbers and were great with helping everyone out. They would stay back and help the kids and help some of the women on the steeper parts of the climb. At some points there was so much water coming down that I was sure I was going to get washed away but no one did and we made the climb to the very top of the waterfall.
I can see why people would find this really dangerous and I did at times wonder what the hell I was doing but it was so much fun and I laughed harder than I have laughed in a while. Yeah it was dangerous at times but YOLO. I love that the kids will look back at that one day and remember the crazy things I let them do!
We dried off, bought a copy of the video of our escapades at Dunn’s River Falls Jamaica and jumped back on the bus to head to Mystic Mountain for the Jamaican Bobsled. We took the chairlift up the mountain and took in some lovely views over Ocho Rios Jamaica. We could see our ship, the Carnival Dream docked down at the port.
There was a little souvenir/market store at the top and some guys playing Jamaican tunes. There was a restaurant and we dropped in for a quick bite to eat before hitting the Jamaican bobsled. Might have had a sneaky strawberry daiquiri while there as well, my tipple of choice in the Caribbean!
We lined up for a little while for the Jamaican bobsled and while there was 7 of us the kids quickly decided that mum was boring and slow and that I should go last as to not hold anyone up! Both Keira and Caelan had to pair up because of their age and of course chose Unc and Dad who were likely to go the fastest down the hill.
Driving Miss Daisy here was happy to go at the back and take my sweet time! I went slow and took in my surrounds, at the spot where your photo gets taken I was photographed readjusting my hat! Much to the kids delight, they thought that was hilarious. The hoist back to the start was probably faster than any speed I hit on the course. I’m surprised the people behind me didn’t catch up, any way I enjoyed it!
Before leaving we purchased a couple of small souvenirs, you can’t go to Jamaica-mon and not buy something to take home to prove it. The kids also purchased keyrings for their school bags. We loved the Jamaican’s accent and were having a lot of fun repeating what they said, yeah-mon! Our mini bus took us back to port and off we went to the next port, Grand Cayman Island.
While Dunn’s River Falls appears to be the most popular tour in Ocho Rios and most tours seem to have the waterfall as part of their tour, there are other options. A Jamaican river-tubing adventure down Rio Buento floating downstream to Bengal Bay finishing in the Caribbean sea. Jamaican river rafting is also offered in the same area for those that are a little more adventurous.
Want to explore the Jamaican rainforest soaring through the treetops of Ocho Rios on a zipline at Mystic Mountain. We could see and hear the zip lining from the chairlift and it looked a lot of fun. Zip from the platforms to experience this descent over a course of 550 feet (170 meters.) After your adventure in the humid jungle, hit the waterslide to cool off.
For something a little more sedate, you can do a Ocho Rios bus tour visiting Fern Gully and Turtle Beach where you can pull up a deck chair, enjoy the views and relax on the beautiful pristine white sand beaches that Jamaica is famous for. For gardening enthusiasts Fern Gully boast over 200 different varieties of ferns, a short walk from Turtle Beach you can enjoy a lunch at the local Jerk Centre before having a swim and heading back to the ship.
Yeah-mon, we loved it! It was exactly what I expected the people to be like and my only regret is that we only had one day. What’s not to love! The kids were so excited and repeated the Jamaican catch phases all day long, Jamaica-mon, yeah-mon!
The kids loved Dunn’s River Falls and it was so much fun to do as a family, even if I did have a moment or two thinking ‘what the hell have I let them do!’. We purchased the video for $40USD and it was worth every cent, we’ve watching it a number of times since. It was brilliant to see the kids out of their comfort zones and being challenged and achieving. These are the things that will be etched in their memories for years to come, well after I’m long gone.
I would go back to Jamaica in a heart beat, I would love to stay for a week and get a real feel for the place. It was our first stop and our next port was Grand Cayman Island. Our final stop before heading back to New Orleans was Cozumel, although we chose a shore excursion that took us to the Cenotes in Playa-del-Carmen instead.
Have you been to Jamaica? Tell me about it in the comments below, I would love to hear about your experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Sal, Craig & Our3kids