Waterfall jumping at the Blue Hole, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
There are a few places that I’d love to experience with my family, meaning that I’ve gotten to see them and do incredible things on my own, but they haven’t been able to join me. Among those places are the Alaskan tundra, the cenotes of the Yucatan and the jungles of Jamaica. The waterfalls of the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios, Jamaica are amazing and something I want to do with the rest of my family.
Alas, that ain’t happenin’ any time soon. Jamaica has some oppressive laws in place that directly impact LGBT travelers and residents in Jamaica. Because of this, we can’t travel as a family and explore all that Jamaica has to offer together. Sure, we might be okay to visit, but it’s not worth risking anything. In the meantime, let me tell you about the amazing adventure that was climbing the rocks and jumping off a string of waterfalls… and you’ll see why I want to do this with my family.
If you already know you want to do this, book a guided visit here!
What you'll find...
How do you visit the Blue Hole?
I came into port in Falmouth, Jamaica aboard the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas (thanks for the fun time!). From there, we got onto a little bus and drove away from the cruise port and through Duncans and more small towns until we got to St Ann, Jamaica. Ocho Rios was then a crazy drive up into mountains.
Tip: we strongly recommend doing this as a tour due to the precarious roads and unpredictable driving conditions
As we drove up to the Blue Hole, our guide continually told us not to worry about the driver and how skilled he was, as he drove on these wild Jamaican mountain roads daily. Seriously, between the cliffs we were traveling along and the close calls with other cars and pedestrians, there was a lot to appreciate regarding our driver’s skills.
Note: in Jamaica they drive on the left side and if you’re from any place where you drive on the right, like the US or Canada, the left side driving is really strange and a bit scary.
On the way up into the mountains, the sights were pretty interesting. We passed by all kinds of shacks and stands selling everything from Jamaican aquasocks to “special” brownies. There were lots of people just hanging out with their friends while they sold their goods, and there were folks just walking on the crazy road. It was an unusual mountain adventure to get to the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios.
What’s to expect at the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios
When you arrive at the Blue Hole, know that you’ll not be the only one there. I was there with my tour group mid-week and we were one of three groups climbing the rocks. We were fitted with life jackets and started our trek, joining a bunch more people already at the cascades.
Note: even when you’re in the shade in the jungle, it’s hot and you’ll need to be wearing sun block. By the time you get to the water and it’s time to jump in, you’ll be so ready.
The walk/hike from the bus area to the first falls is beautiful. You’re surrounded by the most beautiful tropical plants and flowers, the trees are towering and the light is amazing. There are stairs for a good portion of the walk to the river and the Blue Hole, but it’s a bit rugged in parts. Once you’re to the river and thinking about jumping in, it’s time to traverse the rocks. There are ropes lining the canyon walls, but the rocks are still a bit slippery. There are several levels of cascades you have to climb along, so know that you’ll need to be patient as you head up the canyon.
Tip: if you have water-shoes/aquasocks, bring them, because you’ll need to hike along the rocks wearing close-toed shoes.
Fun story: on the way to the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios, our guide figured out who didn’t have close-toed shoes and called ahead to a friend who met us on the side of the road with aquasocks (which we had to purchase). It was funny.
Waterfall jumping at the Blue Hole
Once you’ve done the trek into the canyon and scurried along the walls holding onto the rope, you’re finally ready to jump! The jumping in the Blue Hole and its pools is really amazing. The water is warm, it’s rushing, but it’s safe. When my group was there, there were quite a few others too, so we had to exercise caution about both rocks and people.
The Jamaican people running the jumping and climbing at the Blue Hole are all pretty cool. They’re funny guys and they are so nimble on the rocks and in the water. They’re guiding people, making sure everything stays safe and they’re sure to have fun too. One of the ladies in my group was nervous about jumping, so one of the guys guided her the whole way and then stayed with her all of the way through the many pools.
Cool skills: the guides on the river at the Blue Hole are so brave and skilled that they can pop in and out of the tiniest holes in the rocks and swim through narrow, invisible passages underwater. It was really amazing.
So there are many pools and chutes and holes to jump into as you head down river and each is different. Some are crazy ice blue and you jump from three feet up to others that are deep turquoise and you’re jumping off a 30 foot cliff. There’s even a trapeze for you to swing off of and land in the Blue Hole. Every jump is just wonderful.
Who should do the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios
I’ll be honest, it’s not for everybody. Physical ability and bravery are two factors that you must honestly consider before you head off to the Blue Hole. The hiking isn’t terribly difficult, but if you don’t have a strong back or sure footing, you may really struggle. Also, if you have an innate fear of drowning, it’s definitely not something you’ll enjoy. The water is always flowing and there are unknown obstacles all over. You need to be feeling adventurous and be physically up to the challenge… and if you are, you’re going to have an amazing experience!
Do you see why I really want to return with the rest of my family? Between the walking in the jungle, the warm water and the thrill of jumping from pool to pool, it’s all a wonderful experience that’s really awesome. I know that the kids will love the pools and water, but I think we’ll need to find a similar experience on a different Caribbean island.
Do you have a good alternative for us? Where can we take the kids for an awesome jungle experience? Leave us a note or send us a message. We’re always up for an adventure.
Tour info: if you’re looking to do the exact tour I was a part of, it was lead by Chukka and included the Blue Hole and river tubing. They were wonderful and professional.
And here’s a fun collection of images if you want to pin it and remember for later…
Rob Taylor is the founder of 2TravelDads, the original LGBT Family Travel blog. Focusing on ecotourism and education, 2TravelDads inspires LGBT families (and traditional families also) to go beyond their usual getaways and use travel to learn about and be part of a bigger world. “Traveling the globe and giving the kids a broad worldview.”