An hour and a half from Kingston’s Papine Square at the foot of the Blue Mountains, I followed the main road into Portland parish with little direction, just a destination… Fish Dunn Falls. Along this journey to Silver Hill you’ll pass small communities, coffee farms and eateries of the Blue Mountain Culinary Trail, Holywell Park, plus multiple waterfalls traveling down the mountain face (including Cascade Falls).
Fish Dunn / Done Falls , Portland Jamaica
As you approach Fish Dunn Falls you’ll notice a series of other smaller cascades; a feeling of excitement rushed over me as if they were previews of a much greater treasure. Through narrow, winding roads and clouds of fog, thankfully finding Fish Dunn Falls was simple enough. From what I’ve heard, a route starting at Buff Bay’s gas station to the Avocat bridge over the river is easier, though the scenic trip I had was not my definition of hard.
Roadside parking is available at either side of the metal bridge. A sloped path of large boulders leads to the mushroom cascade from the main road. A variety of leafy shrubs and trees shelters the area, creating a nature pocket just next to man’s structures. Buff Bay River’s Fish Dunn Falls flows into a chilled pool circled by shades of greenery. Reflection of these surrounding greens probably add to the emerald undertone of the freshwater. The sizable, slippery stones continue into the river and create comfortable seating for those who’d like to experience its refreshing quality but not necessarily swim. The force of Fish Dunn Falls rushing into the pool below sprayed a refreshing mist and had it’s very own breeze. There was also a pushing undercurrent which made it a bit difficult at times for me to stay in just one spot.
Beyond the rocks that can be seen from land lies a deep pool. Though I can swim, the shoving undercurrent and inability to see far below the water surface inspired me to perch upon a submerged rock and simply enjoy just being there. Admiring the view of Fish Dunn Falls, feeling cool mist brush my face, and having my body awakened by the river’s stiff chill.
A growing practice (like what I’ve experienced at Reggae Falls and Blue Lagoon) at tucked-away natural attractions like this is addition of some barrier, likely by community residents in an effort to make money. At the time of my visit a fenced gate was recently erected and access granted through a small contribution (J$250 – January 2021). The gatekeeper of the day was a young man who offered to stay with my [female] companion and I in a lifeguard capacity, and act as a guide to another pool I’m unaware of, which was said to be a short hike away. Truth be told, as females alone in an unfamiliar place blessed with thick foliage we graciously declined both offers. Though near and visible from the main road, the river is tucked enough in a quiet area for me to be on alert while traveling in small numbers.
Off the Beaten Path: “ Hidden ” Waterfall in Jamaica
I would consider Fish Dunn Falls to be “hidden” in plain sight, kinda like the power station oases in Ocho Rios and St. Elizabeth! Its low-profile area seemingly may not have much traffic running through it; possibly one of those places you go to only if you’re going to or through there. The natural pool channels into a stream that snakes beautifully into the valley, something I hadn’t noticed until the drive back.
The therapeutic drive included vistas of the Blue and John Crow Mountains lapped by trees cut only by flowing water. The light mountain air with hints of fog was significantly cooler than the humid plains of Kingston. Simplicity of rural life was on display during the journey. Humble buildings passed made me reminiscent of my grandparents’ home; residents strolling from points A to B seemed unplagued by the city rush I’m used to witnessing.
Does Fish Dunn Falls look like it should be on your travel list?
Let me know in the comments if it’s right up your alley, or not commercial enough for your personal preference.
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