There was a time I went to Trip Advisor for all my “real travelers photos.” Now, I find most of my travel inspiration via hashtags and location tags on Instagram. And that’s how I heard about Reggae Falls. Scrolling through my explore page, I stumbled on this stunning pic of some girls standing in front of a waterfall and immediately sifted through the hashtags. I made a mental bookmark of this beauty, and not long after arriving home for carnival, penciled in a day to visit.
As it turned out, quite a few people knew of the falls but even fewer have an exact idea of where it was, what it costs, and what to expect upon arrival?
We Google mapped the location which more or less brought us along the area. We asked locals for directions and found that many people don’t know the attraction as reggae falls. That’s because the waterfall is actually a dam; an abandoned hydropower plant that sits alodt the Serge Island farms. If you’re stuck and need directions, you’d be better off asking the locals for the Hillside Dam or Damhead.
Thereafter, we followed dwindled, barely recognizable signs throw narrowed roads, a vast gully, and finally into a rural community with tons of locals ready to greet us. Needless to say, we were confused when we were pointed in the direction of someones front yard, and told $300 to park. We did so somewhat reluctantly and made our way into the street. Our bewildered faces were easily recognized by locals and they urged us towards a gentleman they called “Mr. Reggae Falls,” telling us, “just follow him.”
There stood a dark, bald man of medium height, with the natural fit built of a “country man.” Shirtless and glistening from the sweat and sun, he ushered us down a hill and into a vast open space. Once, completely filled with water, the reservoir was shallow enough for us to remove our shoes and make our way towards the falls. If you own water boots, it would be in your best interest to don them. The sharpness of the fine pebbled rocks are felt throughout the entire site and can put quite a damper on the experience.
As we approached the falls, we saw two cars parked to the right. It wasn’t until we were about to leave and were giving our “guide” a lift that we were privy to an alternate route. Had we driven directly to Serge Island Farms and taken an access road to the slight right, we could have driven through a wasted river bed and directly to the falls.
Once there, it was lovely. A simple spot, that in it’s untouched simplicity rendered such a calm and primitive feeling. We gingerly walked atop the pebbles, passing a few men who had come to the dam to simply take a bath. We waved to a British tourist on a hill above us who alerted us there was more to see “up here.”
The still waters before the fall are perhaps no more than 4 feet tall. However, the falls rain pretty heavily and of the total 6 or so of us there, most didn’t dare to go directly beneath it. It also generates a very heavy mist upon approach and you may find a bit hard to keep your eyes open. My companions and I found a slightly gentler stream to the left and stood along the rocks, taking in nature’s version of a deep tissue massage. My brother later taught me to skip rocks and we all caught up on old times, in complete awe of yet another one of Jamaica’s not so well hidden treasures.
So down to the nitty gritty:
Major Pro: It’s essentially free
Major Con: It’s quite secluded and safety could essentially be of concern.
What to bring: Water boots/Crocs, towels, food if you plan to be there for a few hours.
Best way to get there: By way of Bullbay into St. Thomas
Photos courtesy of Neil Buckle. @neilusandme