Reach Falls: Freshwater Fun in Jamaica

Freshwater cascades of Reach Falls, Jamaica

When we think of Caribbean islands, we usually envision turquoise and deep blue waves—and there are plenty of those in Jamaica. Hidden in its lush mountains, however, is a freshwater idyll that visitors shouldn’t miss.

Reach Falls is a refreshing destination—and a pleasant alternative to hanging out on the beach.

Cascades and Pools

What’s more exotic than a swimming hole in the jungle? That’s the magic of Reach Falls in the Blue Mountains east of the town of Port Antonio. Here, water cascades over the massive boulders in some places and forms quiet pools in others.

What I loved at Reach Falls:

  • Swimming through the blue-green water (the milky color comes from the limestone) into shallow caves and peering out at the rainforest through the rivulets of water.
  • Getting a shoulder and scalp massage by standing beneath the water of a rushing cascade.
  • Riding the flume. This is achieved by swimming vigorously upstream to perch on a rock ledge with swirling whitewater around you. Then launch yourself into the current, and let it carry you downstream.

    Deep, clear pools are perfect for a cool dip on a hot afternoon.

Details: There’s an entrance fee to Reach Falls. Facilities include picnic tables, toilets, changing rooms, and lifeguards for general safety.

You can hike up the river to Reach Falls and explore the lush jungled area.

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor

Originally published: June 18, 2010

Read more about my travels in Jamaica:

3 Reasons I Love Yoga on a Tropical Island

On any given day, yoga makes me feel alive in body, mind and spirit. I’ve found, however, that doing yoga in a tropical setting adds color to my practice. I’ve had the pleasure of taking a yoga class in several exotic places, and there’s nothing like hearing the instructor say, “Turn your head toward the waves,” instead of “Turn toward the mirror.”

Here are some of my other discoveries about doing yoga outdoors:

1. Turks & Caicos: Contemplate Infinity by the Ocean

While practicing Warrior pose and gazing over the ocean, I can’t help but gain some perspective. How tiny I feel compared to the endless sea and sky!

Regina Radisic teaches a sunrise yoga class overlooking Turks and Caicos’ Grace Bay at The Palms resort. Photo copyright Laurel Kallenbach

The spa at The Palms Turks & Caicos resort holds sunrise yoga classes at the beach. The morning I was there, a shower passed through right at the 6:00 a.m. starting time. We waited under an umbrella by the pool, then did yoga on the boardwalk overlooking the beach rather than putting our mats in the wet sand. We were rewarded partway through the class by a rainbow on the horizon.

2. Jamaica: Revel in Your Senses

Everything seems more alive when you do yoga outdoors: the color of the water and tropical flowers, the scent of flowers and salt in the air, the twitter of exotic birds, the feel of the breeze on my face.

Jacqueline Sheehan leads a class in the garden pavilion at Bromley Estate in Jamaica. Photo copyright Laurel Kallenbach

On Jamaica, at a guest house and retreat center called Bromley, yoga classes were held in a garden pavilion, surrounded by bougainvillea and other flowering trees and shrubs. During Savasana, I couldn’t help but open my eyes when a doctor bird—a hummingbird with long tail feathers—buzzed nearby. The same thing happened when the Bromley dogs, who were fascinated by our Fish Poses, stopped by to lick our faces.


3. Antigua: Move in Different Ways

Sunset yoga is held on the dock at Carlisle Bay resort in Antigua. Photo copyright Laurel Kallenbach

When the yoga environment changes, you adapt—which takes you out of your usual box. At Carlisle Bay resort on the Caribbean island of Antigua, I joined the sunset yoga class on the dock right over the water. Boat Pose took on a whole new meaning as I imagined myself buoyed by ocean water. (I think I even held this asana longer because I felt that water was holding me “afloat.”)

Because of the movement of the gently lapping waves around me, balancing poses such as Tree Pose or Dancer’s Pose were more challenging than usual. Even when I closed my eyes, the sound of waves created the sensation of motion.

As the sun dipped closer and closer to the horizon, our small class did gentle Sun Salutes to end the day. The sky turned a hundred shades of pink.

Now that’s the way to do yoga!

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and traveling yogi 

Photo of the Week: A Colorful Breakfast in Jamaica

Tastes of the tropics: watermelon and star apple fruit, with grapefruit on the far platter ©Laurel Kallenbach

On a Jamaica visit, I spent a week at a yoga and creative writing retreat at Bromley, a historic estate perched high in the hills in the St. Ann area. Every morning a platter of fresh tropical fruit appeared on the table. On this day, we dove into grapefruit, watermelon and star apple fruit—along with Jamaican coffee, of course.

Read more about my travels in Jamaica:

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor


Jamaica’s Colorful Roadside Attractions

On a Sunday, Shireen Aga, owner of Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, toured with me around Portland, a parish located on Jamaica’s northeast coast. The area is lush and full of vibrant communities. Take a local taxi and explore the region, which is a little sleepy in terms of tourism—a refreshing change from the towns where cruise ships dock.

Fast food Jamaica style. On a weekday, I’ll bet this vendor sells lots of Jamaica’s famous jerk chicken from this roadside stand.

For reliable, safe transportation, it’s recommended that you use an official JUTA (Jamaica Union of Travelers Association) taxi. They cost more but are more dependable, especially if you’re in a rural area. During my travels around Portland, Shireen and I used Attractions Link, a shuttle service owned by Wayne Murdock, who arranges sightseeing tours and acts as a guide too.

Jamaicans love bright houses—who could help but feel welcomed into this tropical fruit-colored home?

As we drove along the coast and then into the mountainous forests, a rainbow of colors appeared—not the least of which were ladies in brightly colored dresses and elegant hats walking to or from church. (Wish I could have snapped a picture of some of them; these women were joyful to behold!)

Sherene’s Place in Charles Town sells ice cream treats, snacks and the omnipresent Digicel cards. I wished I’d taken a picture of a sign for the cell phone company—they were everywhere, and nearly every shop on the island sells them.

I also enjoyed the architectural color of rural Jamaica—little shops are everywhere—usually in the form of gaily painted shacks. Because it was Sunday, few were open, but I got a kick out of their décor anyway.

This elaborate blue doorway belonged to a vacation house alongside the road.

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor

P.S. I’d love to hear about the most colorful architecture you’ve ever seen in your travels. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Read more about my travels in Jamaica:

A fishing boat takes the day off. Manchioneal fishing village