This summer we trekked to the eastern side of Jamaica to visit a few popular Portland attractions. I’ve not been to this side of the island in quite a few years and had just booked a two-night stay in a Portland hotel so I planned my spots and headed out. First up, Reach Falls Jamaica.
It was only natural to visit Reach Falls first because of its location. Reach Falls is in a town called Manchioneal which is just beyond the border of St. Thomas and Portland, the two parishes that make up eastern Jamaica. Since I was taking the south-east route, I would come upon this attraction first before I got into Portland proper.
We had a quick and easy drive through St. Thomas, stopping to enjoy the beautiful weather along the way. All parishes in Jamaica are coastal and we enjoyed some gorgeous ocean views before heading through the hills towards the north.
How to Get to Reach Falls Jamaica
If you’re on vacation in Jamaica, chances are you’re staying on the north coast in one of the resort towns of Ocho Rios or Montego Bay. These are both 2-3 hours away from Manchioneal so you’ll want to rent a car or book a tour to get here. It took me two and a half hours to drive from Kingston through St. Thomas to Portland.
There’s really just one main road all around the island and all the main attractions are marked. I used Google maps to make sure I was always on the main road and I also saw several signs along the way marking Reach Falls directions.
Public transportation is available though and can be an adventure itself in Jamaica so you could always hop on a country bus to Port Antonio then another bus or a taxi from Port Antonio to Manchioneal. The challenge will be getting to the falls from the main road as it is quite a distance in. You’ll want to get the number of your taxi driver to be sure you have a way of getting back once you’re done for the day.
The lovely folks in the office at the main gate will help you to call a cab as well if you need one.
Reach Falls Entry Fee
Without a Jamaican I.D., you’ll pay $10 per adult for Reach Falls entry fee and $5 for children 4-12 years old. Babies and toddlers are free of cost. At the entrance, you’ll find ample parking which is free as well as clean restrooms and changing rooms.
You’ll walk down a little path to get to the falls. This area has some of our native trees labeled and a huge tree at the end of the trail which has to be hundreds of years old.
The Waterfalls at Reach Falls
So Jamaica has been going through a drought all summer long and sadly Reach Falls is one of the natural attractions being affected. I remember when the falls were full and in all its glory. Now it’s one little stream over the rocks and one waterfall in the corner. Cue the violins.
It was still beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but if you know what it was like before, then you understand my tinge of sadness. Here’s an image from the Jamaica Tourist Board’s website of the falls in full.
Gorgeous, right? I doubt I would have had the courage to go behind the waterfall or jump into the rabbit hole if it was this full so I count my blessings.
Behind the falls the river is simply breathtaking. The water was the most amazing emerald greens and turquoise blue and we couldn’t get enough. Also, swimming upstream is quite a workout! We were headed upstream to the infamous rabbit hole.
Reach Falls Rabbit Hole
So I heard about the rabbit hole, I’d seen it on countless tourist videos and I wanted a piece of the action myself. It’s always funny to me that visitors seem to know my island’s most beautiful ad thrilling attractions more than us residents. So I asked one of the many guides you’ll see taking careful watch at the base of the falls to take me to this Rabbit Hole.
You can find it yourself, a guide isn’t an absolute must, but I liked the advice of where was safe to jump and where wasn’t. He knew where was best to walk and where we could swim comfortably. I also loved giving him extra income too. Tip your guides!
Here I am sitting at the edge of the Reach Falls rabbit hole not quite sure what I’m about to get into but trusting that no one died jumping in so I wasn’t gonna abe the first! I’ll be fine, I kept saying in my head.
Munchkin was absolutely not convinced and I let her sit out this one. You win some, you lose some. I’m sure she’ll try it if we go back another time. She did bravely come behind the waterfall with me and she did also jump into the pool below the main waterfall from way high above. You can see all that action in the video below.
Tips for Reach Falls Portland Jamaica
Go early in the morning, it will be less crowded as we did notice much more people were at the base of the falls swimming around when we were done with our hike and came back. The falls opens at 8:30am.
Make sure to pack your water shoes and your GoPro if you have one for fun underwater videos and pictures. The water is so clear here and with so many opportunities to go behind the waterfalls or under it in a cave somewhere, you’ll definitely want to have your camera with you.
I actually used a waterproof case for my iPhone to take all the pictures and video you see here so that’s a good option too. I won’t lie, I was worried every time I submerged my phone so I splurged (ha!) on this waterproof adventure camera instead for these excursions. It’s cheaper to replace than an iPhone that’s for sure.
There’s no food sold on the property so bring snacks, drinks, your handy water bottle and cash to pay the entry fee and tip your guide. There’s a cookshop and local bar right up the road so you can stop there to grab a bite after your trip if you’ve got the munchies.
We drove out to a beachside restaurant to get a full meal with a gorgeous view. It was an amazing trip and I can’t wait to return! This is definitely something you do more than once, it was that much fun.