Reach Falls Jamaica

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.

Reach Falls
Reach Falls Jamaica

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.

Tree and foliage at Reach Falls
Entrance to Reach Falls

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.

Reach Falls
Reach Falls Jamaica

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.

Hibiscus and foliage near Reach Falls
Reach Falls Jamaica

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.

Main pool at Reach Falls
Reach Falls shallow pool
At the edge of the Falls, the water is so clear – you can see all the stones at the bottom – we didn’t want to go in. Seeing our hesitation, our guide asked if we wanted to swim. It was refreshingly cool but also quite shallow. The water hit me just above my ankles but it got deeper further away from the edge. The shallow area, he explained, was reserved for non-swimmers, while the roped-off area was for swimmers. Yes, Reach Falls is a great spot to cool off on a hot day.
Foliage near Reach Falls
Reach Falls foliage
The more than 20 rivers that crisscross Jamaica produce almost as many waterfalls. If you’re a nature lover or a waterfall enthusiast, you should check out Reach Falls and take the guided tour down the Driver’s River.

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!

50 comments on “Reach Falls Jamaica

  1. I have a sketchy memory of Cocktail, but I do remember Tom Cruise shaking cocktails on a sand beach. Was that in Cocktail? I don’t remember these falls, but they are spectacular and how delicious that water would be on a hot steamy day. Devine.

  2. My husband would be gaga about all the birds – and I would love the tranquility of the place. Sounds good to me without all the tourists around.

  3. HI Marcia, I’ve see the movie. Reading your post and seeing your photos, I don’t think the movie gave justice to the location at all. I love your shots of the waterfall. The water iooks so clear and fresh. I wish I’ m there right now instead of the dreary, cold NYC.

  4. I can see why you wanted to visit – it looks like an amazing place. We visted some stunning waterfalls in Australia’s Kimberley and Tasmania.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog today and for your comments. It certainly is a juggling game trying to decide which camera to take.
    Have a wonderful week.

  5. This is beautiful! I remember the movie vaguely but I can’t remember any water waterfall. i would totally prefer this place because it’s less crowded. I liked Dunn’s River Falls during our visit but it was just too many tourists.What a great way to spend the day!

  6. I really like your photo of Reach Falls with the hibiscus in the foreground. Your description of approaching the falls through the thicket sounds heavenly. I think I also prefer the places that seem a little more “undiscovered.” My first impression of Dunns River falls was “That’s a lot of people.”

  7. Very inviting. We really like to see the out of the way places. Didn’t catch this when we were in Jamaica. Your description made me feel like I was there.

  8. Hey Marcia,
    WOW!!!! The pictures are so magnificent. For a person like me, who loves waterfall to the chore, I got the hint for my next vacation. Loved the pictures!! Thanks for the share.

  9. Gorgeous photos – love the falls in Jamaica – I was wondering the same as Average Traveler! Ha!

    Thanks for linking up this week!

  10. What a beautiful spot! I saw Cocktail a few times (a bit embarrassed to admit that) and I don’t remember Tom Cruise being anywhere but in bars – I guess I wasn’t focusing on the scenery! 🙂

  11. Looks quite a pretty place! Very peaceful and quiet and surrounded by nature all around. A picturesque place Marcia 🙂

  12. Dunn’s River’s good for one visit – unless you can get there first thing in the morning, before the crowds arrive — and definitely not on cruise days. Reach is much better.

  13. You’re welcome, Jill. I had the camera conundrum today – I ended up going with the smaller one but plan to go back with the larger one later in the week.
    Reach is definitely an amazing place, far from the craziness of the larger and more popular Dunn’s River.
    Thanks. Wish you a wonderful week as well.

  14. Thanks for saying that, I’m glad you think so.
    Oh yes, dreary, cold NYC. I’ve heard, Marisol. Sorry, sorry. Well, since you can’t be here now, I’ll send you some warmth and sun.

  15. Awesome pics…I have visited Dunn’s a couple times. I like how this one doesn’t seem to be overrun with cruise ship passengers:)

  16. Great ride to the lovely falls in Jamaica. I wish i could fly to this great place some day. Thanks for the travel information.

  17. Those waterfalls look amazing and what a lovely pool too. I’ve written about Kimberley waterfalls on my blog, which are unexpected in the outback of Australia, but the ones you picture are so inviting – just want to dive in. Thanks for popping by to my blog the other day too – appreciated 🙂

  18. I always enjoy visiting sites that were featured in movies I enjoyed. I love the pictures, it looks so inviting and relaxing. Like you, I prefer locations that aren’t as overrun as others. That’s one of the reasons we enjoy offseason travel when possible. Fewer crowds. 🙂

  19. Girl, you’ve been holding out on me… I didn’t know you were a big player on Pinterest… Please follow mini me back. 😆 I just pinned your post. I’m Positive Kismet on Pinterest.

  20. You’re welcome, Johanna. One of these days, I’ll have to make it to Australia. I’ve ‘met’ so many Australian bloggers and read so much about it that I’ve added it to my list.

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