My YS Falls adventure begins as soon as I board the tractor-drawn jitney that would take me from the main entrance of YS Estate, a 2,000-acre, privately owned stud farm, to the falls.
It’s a leisurely 10-minute ride through lush vegetation that stretches as far as the eye can see. Pass logwood or bloodwood trees, which the estate used to export to Europe back when dyes couldn’t be made without it, poinciana and ackee trees among others, grazing Jamaica Red Poll cattle with an egret or two waiting patiently to catch its next meal, and horses roaming freely in the distance.
About halfway into the ride, part of the YS River, from which the falls derive, comes into view, its sound hardly noticeable over the put-put-put of the jitney. The water is clear and looks refreshing on this day that is being baked slowly by the sun.
As we come to a stop, I take in the view: a wading pool ringed by ginger lilies and lounge chairs is to my left, a gift shop and cafe on my right, and dead ahead, the bottom of the falls — the rest disappearing into the verdant foliage. A huge logwood tree with a platform catch my eye and as I look up, someone lets out a big woohoo as they take off flying 50 feet above the canopy of trees.
At approximately 120 meters, YS Falls has seven waterfalls that form several natural pools that invite you to take a dip or, for the more adventurous, a jump.
There have been changes to the grounds since the last time I visited YS. Walkways now lead from the base of the falls to the top, a zip line canopy tour has been added and there’s tubing for the less adventurous. Several guides are on hand at each pool and accompany tubers and zip liners. Only swimmers are allowed to enter the water.
For the little ones, there are play areas far away from the water, and a few benches placed strategically around the grounds entice you to sit and enjoy nature’s bounty. Or grab a seat on the porch of the gift shop and watch as bird feeders call colorful hummingbirds to take a sip.
YS Estate is also a working stud farm that has produced several thoroughbred champions for Caymanas Park, the local racetrack.
Respect for the Environment
The Browne family, who own the estate and the falls, which are nestled in the foothills of the Cockpit Country, has taken great care in maintaining the natural environment. According to their site, when the falls opened in 1992, Simon Browne wanted to limit the number of visitors to 25 a day but that had to be revised as interest grew. Still, he’s said to monitor the numbers. (Groups are limited to 25.) In keeping with their drive to be environmentally aware, all toilets are eco-friendly.
My friend who joined me for the visit announced that she was in love with YS Falls, that because of the lushness of the surroundings, she preferred it to Dunn’s River Falls. True, YS feels more in harmony with the environment than Dunn’s River though I believe each has its own charm.
Before you go:
YS Falls is located 50 miles from Montego Bay and Negril. Tours can be arranged through your hotel or guest house.
Admission: Adults $15/Children $7.50
Canopy Tour: Adults $42/Children $20
Tubing: $6 (20 minutes)
Hours: Tuesday to Sundays 9:30 – 4:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays and local holidays
This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.