When you hear Jamaica, 1 of the first tourist attractions that is probably mentioned is Dunn’s River Falls, right? The iconic, stair-like cascade and water park in the heart of Ocho Rios is on almost every visitor’s Jamaican bucket list. Did you know there is also a separate (and less touristy) attraction nearby called Little Dunn’s River Falls? This smaller waterfall is affectionately seen as “the locals’ Dunn’s River Falls” where residents flock for waterside outings and cookouts.
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- Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach Jamaica
Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach Jamaica
From the main roadway above, you may be able to see (and hear) lyming locals enjoying Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach on some weekends and holidays. When in full swing, a visit to Little Dunn’s River may be a day of families enjoying the water, with smoking jerk pans and pulsating speaker boxes cotched in the background.
By the way, quick reminder...
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Little Dunn’s River Falls, Ocho Rios Jamaica
Skinny streams pour over the water-sculpted edges of limestone rock formations. Like the commercial Dunn’s River attraction and exclusive Laughing Waters estuaries, Little Dunn’s River Falls is another popular meeting point where Ocho Rios rivers mix with the Caribbean Sea.
Little Dunn’s River Falls consist of 1 sizeable cascade and 2 smaller ones to the side. The largest waterfall here is climbable, though the size compared to its big sister waterfall makes the feat not nearly as impressive. You may choose to ascend the slick slope of Little Dunn’s River Falls or enjoy a watery back massage where it spills over the rock face.
Little Dunn’s River Free Beach, Ocho Rios Jamaica
Little Dunn’s River also has a teeny tiny beach. There are low, bent trees shadowing the blue waters, adding much shade to this local chill spot. I noticed here— where the freshwater mixes with saltwater— each step in the sea could be a contrasting temperature. The warmth of sea water and chill of river water could both be distinctly felt in various spots. Little Dunn’s River Beach’s slivers of sand can be coarse and rocky in some areas, but the lovely hue and transparency of the water make up for it. The sea is shallow for a distance and often calm, making it a good option for both swimmers & non-swimmers on a regular day.
Little Dunn’s River Falls & Beach Cost
In Jamaica, where a majority of quality water attractions are privatized, Little Dunn’s River is one of few natural treasures that the average resident can access and enjoy. At the time of writing, entry to this site doesn’t attract a price tag like its larger counterpart nearby. Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach is an unlicensed entity and free to the public.
Like many of Jamaica’s uncommercialized water spots it generates some income for locals who act as unofficial caretakers and guides; they may request a nominal fee (use your discretion). Facilities such as restrooms, changing rooms, and lockers may be available at a cost. Extras like lounge chairs, rafting excursions, drinks and bites may also be available on-site at times.
Is Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach Open?
In 2013, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) closed free-for-all access to the property by erecting a gated fence and signs at the site. It had reopened since and normalcy resumed but in August 2022 Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach was once again closed to the public. The Jamaica Beach Birthright Environmental Movement (JABBEM) took the UDC to court over the prolonged closure of the facility. In December 2023 a phased reopening was announced for Sundays only; the case was still ongoing at the time.
The closing and reopening of one of Jamaica’s few beloved public beaches remind me greatly of the on and off Bob Marley Beach (Kingston & St. Andrew) and Winnifred Beach (Portland) sagas. After visiting a Caribbean island of 365 beaches where ALL are free for public access, Jamaica’s recurring privatization disputes have become that much more upsetting to me.
Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach Location
Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach is a more rootsy alternative to the highly-celebrated Dunn’s River Falls just a stone throw away. Whilst it may not be as stunning, it’s surely still worth a visit for those seeking a local cool down spot that is easy to get to. If you don’t know where it is located, it’s likely you’d pass Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach if you don’t know what to look out for. It is along the attraction-lined A3 main road where Dunn’s River Falls & Park, Dolphin Cove, and a tropical cruise ship pier may also be found.
Besides maybe a few vendors at the entrance, the main sight from the roadway for this public attraction is a long metal fence towards the sea. Patrons can park on the roadside by the fence and One Love Trail walkway before heading into the Belmont property where Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach resides. There is a gate entry which opens to a descending stairway. A short trek down the concrete steps then over some trees in the path will take you to the waterfalls and beach areas.
Comparing the relative capacities and popularity of the the 2 Dunn’s River waterfall attractions, the smaller Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach could potentially feel as crowded as Dunn’s River Falls & Park on a buzzing day. If you want a trip to the river or beach at a truly local spot that’s easy to find, Little Dunn’s River is a convenient choice in the Ocho Rios area!
How do you feel about Little Dunn’s River Falls and Beach possibly being privatized in the future???
Let’s discuss in the comments.