The Blue Hole in Ocho Rios Jamaica has become one of my favourite places. It's one of my more recent discoveries.
I only found out about it because I've been spending lots of time in the countryside, trying to find those hidden gems in my country. Even my local Jamaican friends didn't know this place existed.
When I'm there, I can't help but think about how the early settlers in Jamaica must have loved it. This is truly a paradise that the rest of the world could never have imagined.
One of the things I love most about the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios is that it's not commercialized (yet). When I go early enough in the day, it's usually just me and whoever I take. By around midday, you'll start to see a few tourists passing through. But nothing like Dunn's River Falls. No busloads. Just a few private charters here and there.
Getting there isn't easy. It's a few miles up in the hills of Ocho Rios. And the road gets really rough. It's about a 15-20 minute drive from the heart of Ocho Rios.
I figure since the government makes no money from this place, they have no incentive to fix the road (or maybe I should say make a road).
Many drivers will refuse to take anyone up there because of the risk of damaging their car (front-end car parts are expensive in Jamaica).
Once you get there though, it's truly a sight to behold. You can tell you're getting close with all the lush greenery and exotic flowers around you. If you're into photography, make sure you have a fully charged battery and some space on your memory card.
Once you see the water, you'll have nothing on your mind except jumping in. Now, I'm far from being the bravest soul out there. I don't just go around jumping into pools of water without knowing what's in it. But there's something about how blue and clean this part of the river is that makes it inviting.
To get in, you have a few options. You can jump in from a point that's about 6 feet above the water, or for you athletic folks, there's a rope you can grab on to, and swing in like Tarzan. You can also climb down the rocks if you don't feel like jumping but I recommend you jump. Once your toes feel how cold the water really is, the rest of your body will refuse to follow. Just jump in and get it over with.
Once you're in, you'll see a little cave that is somewhat hidden by the water coming down the rocks. That's my little spot. Once you get inside, you can climb up on a rock and have a seat. It's a very small area though. No more than maybe 3 people can fit at a time.
Once you've had enough of swimming around and jumping off the rocks, ask your guide where the secret falls are (I think they now call it the Island Gully Falls). It's about a 10-minute hike from the blue hole. There's a narrow trail that runs along the side of the river that will take you there.
The walk to the falls can be tiring, but there's something about walking through what feels like a small rainforest that excites me. No matter how bright and hot the sun is, you're covered by trees most of the way so you'll stay cool.
I'm always looking around hoping to see a monkey swinging from the trees or some exotic animal in their natural habitat. But no luck (yet!).
If it's raining, or if the ground is wet, be very careful on this walk. The mud on the trail gets very slippery, and there are parts where the cliff is a far fall from the river below. I've never heard of anyone slipping and falling but it's something I've noticed.
Along the trail, you'll come across a few people selling coconuts or Red Stripe beers. You know Jamaicans are always on the grind, and there's nothing better than fresh coconut water, from the shell, after the hike.
Once you get to the top, you'll have to cross some water to get to the Secret Falls.
You can stop and jump off a 15-foot cliff, or do some rope swings before you get there. By now, the ice cold water won't bother you much.
When you finally make it to the falls, you'll see that the hike was well worth it. If the right guides are there, they'll put on a show, jumping head first from places you'd probably never dare to. Have your camera ready!
There's a small hole that takes you inside the falls. This hole is probably 2 feet wide and covered by flowing water coming down the falls. The first time my guide told me to get in, I thought he was kidding. I thought there was no way I could fit through that hole. And I can't see what inside! Not Happening!!!
But he insisted and went first. You have to go feet first, and hope nothing bite's your leg off! It's the most awkward hole I've ever crawled into. Musta had one too many Red Stripes that day…
Once your feet touch solid ground, and you wiggle the rest of your body in, it's not too bad. It's a small space that leads you back down to the water, behind the falls. It's pretty cool, and will definitely be one of the most memorable parts of your visit here, but the entry point would make anyone feel uneasy (let me know in the comments below if you've gone in. How was it for you?).
After making it from behind the falls, you can now come out the water, and take some stairs to the top.
Some brave souls walk down the falls a bit, then take a leap to the water below. Not me! I just imagine that I'll be the unlucky fool who slips and bounces all the way down. I'll pass…
If you continue climbing past the falls, there are a few other little pools/jacuzzis that you can sit in and get a nice back massage. Most people don't go that far up but you can explore a bit. It's a beautiful place and it's easy to find a rock, have a seat, and get lost in your own thoughts for a few minutes.
As much as I'd hate to see this place get too commercialized, I would recommend this as a must-see when you're in Jamaica.
No large tour companies are going to take you there though because it's not an organized place. There's no commission for them to earn off your entry, and I don't think the place is insured (so don't jump in if you can't swim).
Been to the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios?? Tell us about your experience in the comments below. We'd love to hear it…
Blue Hole Ocho Rios – General Information
- Opening Hours – 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
- What to Bring – camera, water shoes, towel, cash for tip (optional)
- Distance from Ocho Rios – 15 – 25 minutes from Ocho Rios
- Distance from Falmouth – 1 hour (approximately) from Falmouth
- Distance from Montego Bay – 2 hours (approximately) from Montego Bay
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