For those that have gone to Ocho Rios and done the included Dunns River Falls tour - did you think it was worth it, or just so-so? My husband is pretty anti-excursions and likes to just stay on the resort and relax. I have similar feelings, although not as strong as him! We live in a big city, so anything really touristy or where people are pushing you to buy things really isn't our thing because we go on vacation to escape from all that. Did you feel like the Falls were a must-see/must-do and can't be missed? We are leaning towards not doing it, but I want to know if we'll really be missing out. How far was the trip to get there, and how long is the whole excursion?
We have been to Jamaica probably (15) times and Dunns River (DRF) (4) times. It is definitely a tourist area that can be very crowded when the ships are there. But, it is very unique
It takes a couple hours from start to finish. It is not free, we were just there in March and I think it was $20 pp and you need water shoes. We went a couple times and just watched our kids climb. There are lots of areas to just observe if you do not want to climb.
if you are going to be in Ochi less than 7 days, i would stay and enjoy the resort.
there are a lot of vendors there but just keep walking
Personally, I love going to Dunn's River Falls- have been 3 times (most recently this past Dec). If you have never been, I would say yes- go- it is quite an experience and very beautiful climbing the falls. Just remember to wear your aqua shoes as it can be very slippery. And make sure to check the cruise ship schedule- avoid going on days when the ships are in port as all the cruise ship passengers on day excursions will overwhelm the falls. As far as how long the excursion takes, don't stress, if you are taking at CTI or CSS you will be back at the rest in time for lunch! And purchase one of the photos they will take of you in the falls- leave your camera back at the resort!
We have gone to Dunns River 2x. We had a lot of fun. We think it is definitely worth it. If you go, be sure to take a waterproof camera. And make sure you tell them you want the DVD of your adventure. They have you do a lot of fun things at the falls and capture it on video. It's a blast looking back at the DVD. Be sure to take water shoes. You cannot climb the falls without them. They do stop at a place where you can rent shoes but I don't like the idea of wearing shoes that a million other people have worn. When you have completed the climb and are ready to leave, you will go thru people trying to sell you stuff. Just keep walking and politely say No Thank You. We've never had a problem. If you are going to Couples for a week, you'll have plenty of time to relax.
Definitely worth it! Takes about 45 minutes to climb depending on your group's speed. It's a right of passage when in Ocho Rios! Yes, do it once...but I doubt you'll do it again. We loved it when we went but don't have any interest in doing it again.
I would say go for it. Not too many places can you climb up waterfalls. We have done it a few times. As for the vendors after the falls, you've had practice, so just walk on through--no thank you, not interested. The falls are just a few miles from the resort so it isn't even the whole morning, you are back for lunch. There are no other stops between the resort and the falls. Try to avoid going when there are ships in port at OR or Runaway Bay as it can get crazy busy.
Dunn's River Falls is one of the most popular and famous attractions in Jamaica. It is very beautiful and fun...and, yes, a bit touristy. That being said, if you have the chance to do it, I would. It's worth doing at least once. Especially since you've already paid for it whether you do it or not. And if this will be your only visit to Ocho Rios, then this would literally be a "once in a lifetime" experience and opportunity. Also, it is best to go on a day that there are no cruise ships in port. It will be less crowded.
You will take a path to the bottom of the falls at the beach where the river flows into the sea. You will then form a "human chain" and be guided up the falls hand in hand. If you have a camera, the guide will take some pictures for you along the way. I highly recommend water shoes/aqua socks for this. The bus will stop at a roadside stand on the way to the falls where you can rent or purchase them. I suggest bringing your own from home.
After you traverse the falls, you normally have to go through a market area to get to the exit. This is where, as you said, "people are pushing you to buy things". However, you can avoid this by leaving through the entrance instead of the exit. Someone might tell you that you can't do it, but it has been done before. The entrance and exit are both at the same parking lot.
Last edited by NeedBlueWater; June 15th, 2012 at 05:09 PM.
My husband and I did not like it. We are both in our mid-late twenties and love excursions. The falls were very pretty but by no means exceptional. We also did not enjoy being forced to hold hands while climbing them, we felt that we could have done much better on our own. We did not enjoy that you get hassled for tips by the guide (although we did not have a guide through the couples resort so I can't say that it would be the same booked through couples). The worst part though is at the end of your treck up the falls you have to go through these little vender booths with people hassling you to buy things, putting handmaid jewelry on your arms, and not taking NO for an answer. We did this excursion through Carnival cruise line and it took about two hours. Please keep in mind that doing this excursion through couples could be a totally different experience. For us the falls are pretty enough but most definitely not our kind of excursion.
I went on DRF a few years back, part of a cruise that stoppped at Ochi. It's one of those things that's fun to do, fun to say you've done, but not something that you need to repeat.
There's two tricks to going there from the resort:
(1) Find a day that there are no ships in port (there are websites that tell you this), and go then. That way you aren't competing with a shipload of 3000 pax (+/-) in town, a large number of who are doing the Falls. (It seemed like every excursion was "Dolphin Cove and DRF" or "Shopping and DRF" or "Fill-in-the-blank and DRF".)
(2) At the exit, there's a gauntlet of vendors, some more agressive than others. When it's time to exit, bypass that area and go out the entrance. Or just keep walking and say "no thanks" a lot.
Do it once at least. It is a touristy thing for sure, but such a part of the area you should do it. I was just thinking today that the next time we go I think I want to do it again. We did it the first time but not the second. The time we went we were sucked in by a vendor and bought several wood carvings which at the time I was upset by, but now I cherish them.
Your husband sounds like mine. The only excursion we have done in Jamaica was the falls the first time we went.( 9 trips so far) We were told it was the one must see thing you had to do. It was very beautiful.....but that being said, it is very touristy. You are required to go up the falls single file & holding hands. My husband almost broke his ankle holdingup the women in front of him who kept slipping. When you exit the falls at the top you enter what I would call a jamaica craft show... It was very hard to find our way out and almost maze like with people holding up there wares asking you to stop and look. It made us both uncomfortable. I don't remember how long the whole thing took....maybe an afternoon. The falls are a short distance from css & tower isle.
Hope this helps
I say go for it. I'm not big on excursions either but we did climb the falls our first trip to CTI. I am glad we did it... but once is enough. The good part is it doesn't take up the whole day. FYI if you do go... and want to avoid the vendors.... be the first to leave and briskly walk through the souvenir shop without making eye contact with anyone. The aisle is narrow so it would be quite difficult to pass those in front of you.
We just got back and we did it. Glad we did it, don't feel the need to do it again, and it would have been fine to have missed it. You leave the resort around 10 and are back by 12:30. There was a ship in port on the day we went (we saw it as we drove by) and there were a lot of people there, but it was very organized and I didn't feel like it took that much longer than it would have otherwise.
As for the touristy aspect, yes, it's very touristy. (very pretty, but very touristy). The guides try to make it fun and they are over the top, having the group yell chants together, and do stuff for the video. They do push the video a bit, we had absolutely no interest in that. (as someone told me before, don't get it unless you want to see a video of a bunch of strangers and occasionally you.) They also take pictures apparently but we didn't even stop to look at them. You do have to walk the vendor gauntlet when you leave, but we didn't feel hassled--but we are very good at smiles and firm "no thank yous"
I think with the way you describe yourself, you would be fine to miss it. But, it's also a short trip and we didn't feel like we lost much beach time, so we thought it was worth it.
Oh, and yes, they won't let you climb without water shoes, so bring those if you decide to do it. (Hubby also used those in the ocean so it was a good investment.) You do need to tip the guides, and they had 2 for our group.
Contrary to some of the above posters... if you are staying at CTI or CSS, this excursion is included (no charge to you) with your stay.
Yes it is a bit touristy, but we think it's something everybody should do once. We usually do it twice during a 7 nite stay because we enjoy it that much!
You can avoid the very aggressive vendors as you are exiting by bypassing that and going back through the entrance (don't listen to the vendors telling you that the only exit is through their market).
We do take $5 to tip each of the guides, there will be 2 to 4 guides so take four $5 bills and you'll be fine... no worries, they take wet money!
Take your waterproof camera, you'll want pictures.
We actually like holding hands and helping each other go up... my hubby would go ahead of me and help by pulling me up and I'd help the gal behind me by pulling her up.. it's quite stremuous but exhilirating.
Go once, if you don't like it, so what, it's only a couple hours away from the resort from the time you leave till you return and at least you can say you did it. But I think you'll love it!
It is very touristy but fun. Since you live in a big city, you should be fine walking quickly through the market. That was the only unenjoyable part but seriously, it takes about 5 minutes to get through if you just keep walking. The whole excursion took about 3 hours and was definitely a nice break. Definitely look at the websites that show the cruise schedule and avoid those days.
We just got back last week from our first trip to Jamaica
Everyone told us "you HAVE to do Dunn's River" - well since CTI offers it for free my wife and I decided, why not?
Well, long story short - we're glad we did it but we probably wouldn't do it again anytime soon.
We went through Couples so we didn't have to pay admission, however we did tip the driver, 2 tour guides, and the video guy (didn't get the video but still tipped the guy) - all in all the whole thing cost us about $40 in tips...
The bus left at about 9am and we were back at the resort by 11-1130 - we went early and were the first "bus" that got in so we really didn't notice the cruise ship people, however when we were leaving the parking lot was FULL.... I think the fact that we went early was a good thing!
The falls are really pretty, and definately worth doing at least once... I mean it's only 2 hours out of the day and something that you'll probably never have the experience of doing anywhere else....
Definately take a waterproof camera and water shoes - I would advise you not to get them from the stand... you can buy them at the resort (CTI) at the gift shop to the right of the main entrance or you could even buy them at the falls... I was able to find some online for about 8 bucks a pair which worked perfect for my wife and I considering we're probably never going to wear them again...
The guides make it fun, the holding hands thing I didnt like too much because I felt I could balance better on my own but in the end everything worked out...
At the end of the tour just make a bee line towards the entrance... try and avoid the "craft fair" - however if you do get sucked in, the guys there can be a little pushy- just keep moving and saying No thanks!
Would we do it again? eh... maybe in like 5-10 years
Are we glad we did it? ABSOLUTELY
We felt like it was worth doing. We went from CSS on new years day. We had researched the cruise ship schedule and that was the only day of our trip that they wouldn't be around and we were very glad. It wasn't terribly crowded which we liked.
Couples took care of the transportation, the entrance fee and arranging the guide. We felt that it was a nice inclusion. It took just the morning and we enjoyed the afternoon at the beach. We tipped our guide accordingly.
I do have to agree that the holding hands part was annoying. I felt like it put my body at a weird angle trying to climb and also be attached to others. We discussed it after and felt that the chain concept might increase injury risk because you aren't very stable. It seemed like near the middle of the trip up half the people just stopped with the hand holding, that worked for us.
The vendors were very aggressive and my significant other is a sucker for that. He feels rude just walking away but you have to do it in this setting because they will put stuff on you and carve your name on stuff etc. I found that part annoying but many just walked right through as suggested in the other posts.
We were glad we did it and we thought it was a good time. Definitely worth doing once.
My husband and I are 40. We went to Jamaica in January and climbed the falls. We went on a Sunday which was a great day to go for there was no cruise ships there and we were the first group to go right away in the morning. Honesty, it was not an easy thing to do. They do stop in the middle of it and let you rest but until we got to there I did not think I was going to make it. I am not a exercise junkie but I am not fat either. Just your normal body size. At times you have to let go of your partner and they have you fall back and plunge into the water. So it is not just walking up holding hands. You get wet no if and or buts about it. Totally submerged. There is places we saw little black bugs all over rocks and needed to avoid those.
I fell many times to my knees. Causing little cuts, bruising, turned into infection then a nasty strange rash all over my leg. When I got back to the states I went to the Dr and was told I brought a parasite back from Jamaica when Icut my knee. Chances are that will not happen to you.
I had fun doing it although it was hard work. I am glad we did it. I would not do it again. DO NOT BUY THE VIDEO THEY OFFER. we did and it is definately not worth the money.
I say go for it. Go into it seeking fun and adventure and you will enjoy it. Have a great time in Jamaica!