Category Archives: Parish of Saint Ann

Little Dunn’s River Ocho Rios – Beach in Saint Ann, Jamaica

The pull of a beautiful waterfall with crystal clear water cascading into the ocean is hard to resist. Little Dunn’s River in Ocho Rios, Saint Ann, is a secret (not so secret among locals) alternative to the tourist masses descending on it’s more famous sister, Dunn’s River Falls. When I had a free afternoon after a few days of heavy driving recently, I jumped at the chance to experience Little Dunn’s River for myself. The descent to view the falls is an adventure in itself and if you love the simple things in life a visit to Little Dunn’s River will be sure to please you too.

If you are in the vicinity of Ocho Rios and want to experience a waterfall and beach setting, without all the hands tied together climbing en-mass part, check out Little Dunn’s River Ocho Rios – Beach in Saint Ann, Jamaica. 

How to get to Little Dunn’s River

If you are driving from Ocho Rios, take the highway out-of-town towards Saint Ann’s Bay. As you leave the town you will drive past Reynolds Pier and the helicopter base on your right hand side, keep going. Look out for a lay by on the RIGHT hand side, where there is a couple of small single storey white buildings. Park on right hand side of the road ONLY, out of the soft shoulder and on the grass verge; do not park on the opposite side of the road in the soft shoulder.  If you get to Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Ridge you have gone too far, so go ahead and carefully turn round! You have arrived at Little Dunn’s River.

If you are driving from the direction of Saint Ann’s Bay and beyond, head along the highway towards Ocho Rios. Once you pass Dunn’s River  Falls on your right, Dolphin Cove on your left and Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Ridge on your right hand side… look out just around the next corner you will see the lay by. Park your vehicle! You have arrived at Little Dunn’s River.

Entrance to Little Dunn's River
Entranceway in Layby

Entrance Fee and Access to Little Dunn’s River

Little Dunn’s River is accessed from one of two inconspicuous gateways off the pathway in the verge. The first of which has a double door gateway, the second further along the trail has a single gateway. You will normally see a couple of guys ‘manning’ the single gate and they will probably ask for a donation to keep the beach clean; use your discretion. However, Little Dunn’s River and the beach is officially free to enter and you do not have to pay for parking.

It is quite hard to traverse the descent to the falls and ultimately the beach. Therefore, I would not recommend Little Dunn’s River beach and falls for the infirm or unfit! Once you enter through either of the gateways you go down some concrete steps to a platform area. You can either go the right where is the beach area is hidden behind a tree bowing down into the ocean, or go the left where there is a stepped descent to another platform area where the falls are visible. Either way ends up taking you to the ocean. There are not really any falls to climb per se, but you can climb down a small area into the ocean and sit under one of the lesser waterfalls for an invigorating massage!

Steps leading to Little Dunn's River
Stairway to Beach

You have arrived at Little Dunn’s River.

Little Dunn’s River is open to the public and it’s a little more relaxed than some of the ‘paid for’ beach experiences. Many of the beaches in Jamaica have been bought by investors and commercialised so that there is no access to the public. This is a shame as everyone loves going to the beach and having a cooling and refreshing dip in the ocean and many of the locals are priced out in this way.

The actual ‘beach’ at Little Dunn’s River is very small , a sandy slither with a couple of bent over trees to sit on. Don’t bother coming with the whole beach caboodle as there won’t be room to spread out on the sand! There is a wide, shallow and clear area of water directly where the river (falls) enter the ocean which is nice for a dip for non-swimmers and the young. There is a couple of lines with floats directing swimmers away from the rocky areas under foot. If you want to swim and go deeper you can go beyond the bowed over tree to a warm and sandy area of the seabed…. Lovely!

Little Dunn’s River is a chilling spot to marvel at the beauty of nature, enjoy a dip in the ocean and to have an invigorating sit down under the waterfalls. The beach is really small, hence the low score, but the falls are beautiful. The ocean is shallow and calm and there is plenty of space to splash around and swim out. The facilities are limited and the washrooms are right at the very top (although I never checked they were open). There are a few vendors selling drinks and snacks, one of which was perched right on top of the falls! The whole area was very clean and I noticed the beach vendors regularly sweep off the debris on the sand. I arrived around 3.00pm and there were plenty of people around, after about an hour the crowds thinned and we could get a chance to go under the falls. I spent a few hours here to relax and unwind and really enjoyed myself.

Little Dunn's River Waterfall
Little Dunn’s River Waterfall

 

Crystal Clear Waterfalls
Crystal Clear Waterfalls

 

Little Dunn's River Ocho Rios
Little Dunn’s River Ocho Rios

 

Small Sandy Beach
Small Sandy Beach

 

The trail
The trail

 

Waterfall
Waterfall at Little Dunn’s River

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Ocho Rios Bay Beach

The main beach in Ocho Rios, situated on Jamaica’s north coast, is the wide white sand arch of Ocho Rios Bay Beach; which is also known as ‘Turtle Beach’. As many of the hotels along Main Street back onto the sand, it is a heavily used tourist beach and it’s popular with locals too. When the cruise ships are in town the beach also fills up with the passengers that flock to shore from the towering cruise ships that dock on the far side of the beach.

Cruise Ship Pier
Cruise Ship Pier

Directions to Ocho Rios Bay Beach and Entrance Fees

When driving down Main Street you will see Sandcastles Hotel on your left-hand side and then a couple of shopping plazas. Drive past and turn into the first car park on your LEFT, which has a barrier and a guard. The entrance to the beach is via the back of the car park through another gate. There is a fee for parking in the car park.

If you do not have a wrist band from your hotel there is a charge to enter the Ocho Rios Bay Beach (see below for full details of entrance fees). On paying the entrance fee the guard will stamp your wrist which allows you to leave and re-enter the beach later in the day if you choose the take a break and want to wander around the town. If the stamp is rubbing off ask them to re-stamp it before you leave the beach if you intend to return, as suntan lotion and sweaty skin will make it rub off quickly.

Hotels on Ocho Rios Bay Beach
Hotels on Ocho Rios Bay Beach

Ocho Rios Bay Beach Facilities

There are toilets and changing rooms, plus a restaurant and bar serving the beach goers. There are also seats and deck chairs available, where you can lounge or picnic in the shade of an Almond Tree. You will also see vendors plying their trade along the sand, which is convenient if you don’t want to leave your things to walk to the bar or craft market. If you don’t want anything a smile and a polite ‘I’m not shopping today’ or ‘I’m good thanks’, will see them walking on to the next punter.

The sand is regularly raked and is a pristine white colour. The sea has designated swimming areas and is shallow enough near the shoreline for children to play.  If you are into water-sports you will be spoilt for choice and jet ski’s are popular and readily available for rental.

There are two craft markets nearby to the Ocho Rios Bay Beach which can be found if walking along main street. Plus there is the sprawling Island Village complex, which has a huge choice of shops, supermarkets, banks, doctors, dentists, opticians, a post office and so on. Across the street there is also Burger King and KFC if you are wanting a break from Jamaican food.

Hotels on Ocho Rios Bay Beach
Hotels on Ocho Rios Bay Beach

Ocho Rios Bay Beach Entrance Fees and Opening Hours

Opening Hours:

Daily: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Entry Fee:
Residents

Adult J$200
Child (2-11 years old) J$100

Non-residents

Adult US$3 (or equivalent)
Child (2-11 years old) US$1

Contact Details:
Phone

(876) 656-8031 Telefax: (876) 974-2731

Email

cjackson@udcja.com

Contact Details:
Phone

(876) 656-8031 Telefax: (876) 974-2731

Email

cjackson@udcja.com

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Bless up, Jules

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Post Updated: January 2016

Turtle River Park – Ocho Rios

Turtle River Park is worth a visit if you are in Ocho Rios, the beautiful landscaped park right in the middle of the town centre covers 3 hectares of land and offers a few surprises for visitors young and old.

Giving Jamaican’s and visitors a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the town and sit and relax in peaceful tranquility, the park is free to members of the public and open every day of the week. The park was opened on 18 June 2004 by  Prime Minister P J Patterson (PM of the time) after the (UDC) Urban Development Corporation decided the old bus park was ideal for redevelopment.

 

Turtle River Park Facilities

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  • Free Entrance to members of the public
  • Open all week
  • Clean Toilets
  • Snack Outlet
  • Childrens Swing Area
  • Seating areas / Picnic Tables
  • Landscaped Gardens
  • Ponds and water features
  • Parking – fee payable; free parking spots are available down the end of the road past the main entrance on Milford Road (do NOT park where you see yellow lines or  parking restrictions!)
  • Security – Wardens patrol park ensuring park rules are upheld

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Are There Any Turtles? 

Due to the name of the park I was intrigued to find out if there were turtles lurking anywhere, so I made two visits to look for them as it was too dark to fully investigate the park the first evening. I did notice on the first visit that there was a  barrier set across a bridge which gave access to a central island, which contained a smaller pond in the centre… I would have to investigate further in the daylight to find out why the barrier was there and if there were turtles here somewhere.

The second time I walked through the park I made sure it was daylight hours so that I could get some pictures and investigate the ponds when it would be easier to spot turtles if there were any to be found.

 

Palm Lined Walkway

After walking in the large main entrance on Milford Road, there is a long walkway which gives a glimpse of the ponds at the end.

The walkway is lined with palm trees and small hedges to either side, halfway down the walkway a central water feature starts to bubble and flow down towards the ponds.

Manicured lawns to either side of the walkway carry numerous ‘keep off the grass’ signs, which  I can only assume to keep the lawns in their magnificent state of lushness!

 

What is available at the Park?

There are gazebos scattered around the park, where groups of people sit quietly or talk, sing and recite from the bible, lovers young and old share a tender word and touch and everyday people just sit and chill out. Palm trees, bushes and planting leads you along pathways cut through the beautiful lawns to other areas of the park.

There is a children’s play area which has a couple of playhouses on stilts and some swings, although when I visited only a few of the swings had seats, but the children there enjoyed themselves none the less.

The turtle theme carries on through the park and I saw these cute little turtles sitting in a row across the lawn, maybe to create a division from the children’s area behind it. I noticed a trampoline with an enclosure, but  couldn’t see anyone attending to it and I assumed it wasn’t free to use.

Along some of the pathways there is a turtle emblem stamped into the concrete to break up the blandness and continue with the turtle theme.

Scenic Ponds and Waterways

 The park boasts a large man-made pond which is beautifully designed and has large specimens of what look like coy carp fish swimming in the  shallows.  Large trees, palms, clipped bushes, flowers and rockstone are tastefully scattered around to create a natural looking atmospheric area, which doesn’t look overdone.

A small bridge carries you over the larger pond that creates a moat effect, as there is an island in the centre which also has a pond with smaller fish swimming amongst the lily pads. A pathway leads you around the pond to an even smaller pond that had a fence around it….. Mmmmm what was in there?

 

At Last I found the Turtles!

There is a small waterfall that cascaded into the last pond and a small grassed area with rocks near to the water’s edge for the turtles to sun themselves on, or have a break from the water. A second waterfall left the pond and flowed down into the central pond, although a grill across the waterfall prevented the turtles from escaping any further into the other ponds.

A tree at the back of the enclosure provided partial shade to the pond giving the turtles some respite from the scorching Jamaican sunshine.

There were at least 10 turtles in the pond and one in particular took an interest and came out of the pond to walk over to the fence to see what was going on. The others looked on in mild interest and scattered if they felt frightened when you moved too quickly. The shells of the turtles were covered with a green algae but it didn’t seem to bother them as they looked happy and healthy swimming or lolling about in their watery enclosure.

As the fish in the ponds looked like fresh water fish I can only assume these specimens must be a form of fresh water turtle. There were small fish bundled up on the bottom of the pond, but it didn’t seem to be the turtle food? I did wonder what they fed them on though as there was no sign of food anywhere.

I spent a while with the turtles but as the night came down the park wardens came over and put the barrier back over the small bridge and ushered people back over into the main areas of the park before it closed shortly afterwards. I was happy that I found the turtles and that the park’s namesakes really did reside in the park’s ‘river’.

On leaving the park we walked through the entrance on Main Street which has the wardens hut and public restrooms, which I found to be clean and tidy, but lacking tissue, soap and hand towels!

All together the park is a nice attraction and looks as though it is manicured on a daily basis, as it is so beautifully kept. I would recommend a visit to the park especially if you want some peace and quiet, or if you have young children who would enjoy the turtles and play area provided.

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on weekends from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Entry:     
Free

Parking Rates: J$50 per hour and J$150 daily

Contact Information:     
Turtle River Park
Main Street
Ocho Rios, St. Ann
(876) 795 0078, 974 5015, 974 2612
Telefax (876) 974 2731