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Grab Your Water Shoes and Let’s Climb Dunn’s River Falls!

When I climbed Dunn’s River Falls several years ago, water shoes were optional. Back then, climbers locked hands with each other, formed a human chain and scrambled up the falls, one step at a time.

Climbing Dunn's River Falls
Climbing Dunn's River Falls

Now guides lead daisy-chained groups of climbers and water shoes are strongly recommended. But that hasn’t dampened the fun. The Falls are easily navigated. Missing your footing and falling into one of the many plunge pools on the terraced steps or having water cascade over your body, especially on a hot day, is part of the fun.

Climbing Dunn's River Falls
Climbing Dunn's River Falls

The guides cheer you on, point out best places to walk, take your photo, and even hold your glasses or any item you don’t want to have fall into the water. The climb takes approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the group you’re with.

Climbing Dunn's River Falls
Climbing Dunn's River Falls

Called Las Chorreras by the Spanish, Dunn’s River Falls is located in Ocho Rios, St. Ann. From the beach below, where it empties out into the Caribbean Sea, to the top, is approximately 600 feet.

Dunn’s River Falls was featured in Dr. No. It was the location where Ursula Andress emerged from the sea.

Climbing Dunn's River Falls
Climbing Dunn's River Falls

Hours: Daily from 8:30 – 4:00 p.m., from 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on cruise ships days.

Cost: US$20 (Adults), US$12 (Children); water shoe rental is extra.

What to wear: Bathing suits, shorts, t-shirts, etc., anything that won’t sag or separate when you’re in the water and water shoes.

Guides have cameras and will gladly take your photo for a fee, so leave your camera with a friend or at the hotel. If you decide not to go into the water, you can watch the climb from the look out area.

One of the guides I spoke with said the best time to visit is right after it opens as the water is very clear and you have a better view of the rocks below. I thought it was still clear when we went – around midday – but he said it was even clearer early in the day.

After you’ve climbed the falls, you can relax in the park, take a swim or a stroll of the gardens. And if you’re looking for a place to tie the knot, Dunn’s River Falls is the perfect spot.


Escoveitched Fish: Caught in a Pickle in Jamaica

I love food and I love to eat. But I’m very particular about what I like. I nearly ditched my last year of

Scotch bonnet peppers, essential to Jamaican cooking

university so that I could stay in Barcelona. For the food.

In terms of spices and richness, the food in Spain comes pretty close to what I grew up eating and what my body responds to.

When I’m in Jamaica, one meal I enjoy thoroughly is escoveitched fish – not just any fish. For me, it has to be red snapper. I can eat it by itself, right down to the head and bones, no accompanying dish required.

When I was growing up, I’d watch my grandmother and mother prepare typical Jamaican dishes and though I couldn’t cook then, some of those recipes stuck and I replicated them when I began cooking for myself. But escoveitch I wanted to do just like my mother did – fried crispy (so that it crumbles when you bite it) then marinated, for at least 4 hours, in a mixture of vinegar, onions and pepper. Frying it until it’s crisp keeps the fish firm after it’s soaked in the vinegar mixture and when you bite into it, it  creates an explosion of flavor as tangy vinegar, biting Scotch Bonnet and sweet onions awaken the taste buds. Is the only dish I asked her to show me how to make.

Pimento, another key ingredient in Jamaican cooking

Escoveitch, derived from the Spanish word escabeche, meaning pickled, was brought to Jamaica by the descendants of Christopher Columbus, who claimed the island for the King and Queen of Spain in 1494. Jamaica remained a Spanish colony until the British grabbed it in 1655.

Evidence of Spanish presence is still to be found in place names like Ocho Rios, Savanna la Mar, Rio Cobre, etc., and in some of our foods.

The popular escoveitched fish is a tasty reminder of our Spanish heritage.

Here’s my mother’s recipe for this crowd pleaser.

Escoveitched Fish

3 lbs. fish

4 tsp. black pepper and 3 tsp salt, combined

2 or 3 limes (or lemons)

1 Scotch Bonnet or other hot pepper, cut in strips

1/2 cup oil for frying

2 cups vinegar

1 tsp. pimento seeds

2 large onions, sliced

1/2 tsp. of whole black pepper grains

Wash fish thoroughly in water to which juice of limes have been added. Dry thoroughly. When dry,

Escoveitched Fish

coat the fish on both sides and on inside with combined salt and black pepper. Set aside on paper towels. (Note: Paper towels keep the fish dry so the hot oil doesn’t pop and splash when you put it in.)

Heat oil in frying pan to boiling and fry fish on both sides until nice and crisp. Set fish aside in a glass dish.

In a saucepan, combine vinegar, sliced onions, peppers, pimento seeds, whole black pepper grains and bring to a boil. Simmer until onions are tender. Remove from fire and cool.

Pour over fish and leave steeping overnight (or for at least 4 hours).

Serve with festival (flour and cornmeal dumplings), bammie (made from cassava) or even rice and peas. Escoveitched fish can be eaten at any meal. I could get caught in that pickle any time.