Reach Falls has been on my travel list since the late 1980s when I had found out that it had been featured in the Tom Cruise movie, Cocktail. You might remember the one where Tom’s a bartender whose skill at flipping and juggling bottles of alcohol and pouring them perfectly into a glass had everyone dazzled. Frankly, that’s about all I can recall of the movie now but it made me curious about Reach Falls.
Said to have been discovered by slaves from the neighboring parish of St. Thomas, Reach Falls is located in the tropical rain forest of the John Crow Mountains in the eastern parish of Portland. Though the Falls is on the Driver’s River, it takes its name from Reach, the community that it’s a part of.
We set out from Montego Bay around mid-morning a few weeks ago, and after a few stops, arrived in Port Antonio, the capital, about 4 hours later. Following the signs to Reach Falls, we turned on to a secondary road that was fringed with a variety of flora. There were many downed coconut, banana and other trees, the result of Hurricane Sandy’s pass over this part of the island but not even Sandy could alter the carpet of lush green that spread to the mountains in the distance. After about 20 minutes of relatively slow going – the road was pot holed and narrow – the entrance to the Falls appeared.
Except for a hotel bus, only a few employees were in sight – Reach Falls was deserted. Following the release of Cocktail, in 1988, the Falls saw a spike in visitors but numbers have leveled off. That might be due to its location relative to Montego Bay. Although Port Antonio is where tourism began in Jamaica (ships taking bananas from the island would bring visitors back), it too, has lost some of its former glory.
Size could also be a factor. At about 11 acres, much of it rain forest, Reach Falls is just too small to accommodate the hordes that visit Dunn’s River or YS Falls annually and with just one plunge pool, there isn’t much to do except enjoy the peaceful scenery. Which was quite fine by me – I like places that not overrun by visitors.
After we purchased our tickets, our guide led us the few yards through a thicket of hibiscus and ginger lilies down the steps to the Falls.
The Driver’s River rises in the mountains and traverses limestone rocks before it empties into the sea 3 miles beyond Reach Falls. At the Falls, the river cascades approximately 22 feet down a rock face into a sparkling turquoise pool.
Though not as popular as Dunn’s River Falls with its human daisy chain, or as spectacular as YS with its rolling countryside, it is no less beautiful, and because there are fewer visitors, is an oasis of calm. You can hear and see a variety of birds, including the black and yellow billed parrots, overhanging vines, bamboo canes, and over 23 different species of ferns.
Before You Go
About 25 miles from Kingston and 100 miles from Montego Bay
Open Wednesdays to Sundays and local public holidays from 8:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Cost: Age 4-12 years – US$5; 12 and over US$10
Amenities: Bathrooms, changing areas and store
This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.
This week, I’m also linking up with the Friday Daydreaming series organized by Becca at Rwethereyetmom. Hope to see you there!