In an appropriately-named area known as Hillside, St. Thomas is a towering cataract named Reggae Falls. Tucked beyond dirt mountains of a work site, the abandoned hydroelectric facility is nicknamed ‘damhead’, and was reportedly known as ‘dam falls’ before the Reggae Boyz national football team qualified for the World Cup in 1998. An 18-metre-high dam was built here in the 1920s to supply water to the community, and still possesses remnant structures of the former plant.
Directions to Reggae Falls Location
Travel eastern from Kingston’s Harbour View roundabout into St. Thomas. My group drove through popular communities like Yallahs, White Horses, and Roselle where we stopped at Longboarder Bar & Grill for a drink. Venture past the old Good Year Factory and take the 1st exit at the Morant Bay roundabout towards Seaforth.
Reggae Falls Cost
Stay on the main road until you approach a fork with a bridge on the left; take the right at that fork towards Hillside community. Follow the snake-like road until you reach a small community church, where you’ll take a left. A house with an iron barrier will be before you, collecting an admission fee (J$300 as of Dec. 2019). This will grant access to a landfill (pictured in part here), where you’ll stay right and splash cross the shallow river bed to reach Reggae Falls.
The cool stream snakes from the powerful falls to cut through the shallow dirt banks, creating pools. If you look closely enough, the almost-clear water will reveal schools of tiny fish. As you step on the small stones of the river bed, the water level will typically elevate from the ankles to just above the waist, as you slowly get accustomed to its refreshing chill.
The wide waterfall is cradled by surrounding countryside sitting in the sunshine. Climbing the craggy paths to the side will grant different perspectives, and afford you opportunities to jump from varying heights (at your own risk) into the pool below if you dare. As you get closer to the attraction, the force of the water plummeting below sprays a mist. If you’re brave enough to inch behind the waterfall curtain, your senses will be covered by the rush of the river. The force is so great in fact, that against the rock wall it’ll seem like water droplets are defying gravity as they float upward, due to the breeze created by the force.
Though Reggae Falls was included on my original Jamaica travel list, the crowd of people I often saw in various photos of the area was enough to deter me, and ultimately lowered its rank on my priority list of 13 lesser known waterfalls. Even though there was a sizeable crowd there on my visit, I was surprised I was still able to enjoy the majesty of the refreshing Johnson river water (which for me is rare if more than 5 persons are present). I’m not yet sure how this differed from other community rivers visited, like Penfield Falls (Kingston) or Roaring River (Westmoreland), but there seems to be something special about Reggae Falls.
St. Thomas Community Tourism
This river spot is a favourite among residents, who seem to regularly flock the area for weekend lymes and cookouts. Somewhat similar to the community of Treasure Beach, the growing popularity of Reggae Falls over the years has inspired residents of the otherwise quiet village to cash in.
For example? The land, the unofficial admission fee implemented by a resident whose house is along the route to the work site. Other residents make an income here offering services as tour guides, masseuses, and vendors. Stalls are set up on the river banks equipped with a range of drinks, snacks, and music bumping through the speakers.
How would you imagine spending a day at Reggae Falls?
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