Are you cruising to Ocho Rios or Falmouth, Jamaica?
We just returned from our Spring Break cruise and it was wonderful. It was my kids' first cruise, my first time sailing with Royal Caribbean, and my first visit to Jamaica. Our other port was Royal Caribbean's private beach in Labadee, Haiti, so Falmouth, Jamaica was our best opportunity to really explore a new place.
Blue Hole – also known as Island Gully Falls or Secret Falls – turned out to be our FAVORITE part of the whole cruise, even though there were a lot of great experiences to choose from. The lush tropical setting was gorgeous, the deep blue water was refreshing and the family-friendly adventure activities were thrilling! Our guide, Romaine did a great job of leading us through all the falls and jumps. He also carried my iPhone and took lots of fun photos of my family enjoying all the activities at Blue Hole.
We booked our Blue Hole driver and tour through Patrice Bailey, and I do recommend her. You can reach Pat by email or phone at [email protected] or 1-876-509-7542. Keep reading for more details about our entire tour.
Here's what you need to know to plan a great family excursion at Blue Hole in Jamaica.
The Blue Hole Experience
Blue Hole was busy. It was filled with tourists on the morning of our visit and all the groups were led by local guides who made sure that everybody stayed safe and nobody waited too long for any of the activities. Romaine provided a custom tour that fit our interests and schedule. Our driver arranged everything for us.
We started with a short walk to the top of the falls. Romaine directed our family to a rock where we could all sit under the falls together for a “massage” and photo op. From there, we worked our way down the falls through a series of activities.
We jumped off rocks and platforms, swam under the falls into a cave, jumped into the water from a rope swing and climbed down a waterfall with a rope. Guides were entertaining as well as helpful. They scrambled effortlessly up steep, rocky hills and waterfalls in bare feet and Romaine made an impressive dive into the water from a point that was twice as high as anything we were willing to jump from.
Blue Hole is a fun excursion for active families with older kids. I would not recommend Blue Hole for kids much under age 10 unless they are extra-adventurous and confident swimmers. Complimentary life jacket loans are available for all ages. Cautious family members don't have to do anything they don't want to because there are always alternate routes down the falls.
Wear your swimsuit
I am not one of those people who feels comfortable wearing my swimsuit without a cover-up to hide my many problem areas. I got over that fast at Blue Hole because we had to leave everything except swimsuits and camera in our van. We were constantly on the move and getting in and out of the water. I had so much fun, it wasn't worth worrying about how I looked.
Our next activity was river tubing, so we wore our swimsuits all day. We wore cover-ups, but did not bring a change of clothes and it was fine.
Wear water shoes
Wear shoes that will protect and stay on your feet in the water. Sport sandals or water shoes are your best options. I bought Teva sandals from Sierra Trading Post before our trip and they were great for this and a variety of other activities. My husband wore Chaco sandals from Sierra Trading Post, which protected his toes from underwater rocks.
Hire a driver
You can rent a car and drive yourself to Blue Hole, but I recommend you hire a driver. Jamaica has its own driving rules that surely are not part of the driver's license exam and the last part of the road to Blue Hole is narrow and bumpy.
Pat Bailey introduced us to our driver, Brenton, at the Falmouth cruise port. He was friendly and able to answer all our questions. Brenton watched the clock all day and got us back with a few minutes to spare so my daughter could pick up the nail polish she wanted from Del Sol.
We combined our Blue Hole experience with tubing at Calypso River Rafting nearby. Tubing the White River was as relaxing as Blue Hole was exhilarating, and it gave us the chance to see more of Jamaica's beauty and culture. Our driver also stopped at Scotchie's – a popular stop for lunch and we picked up our jerk chicken to go. Time was short, so unfortunately, we didn't get the full experience at either Calypso or Scotchie's.
We only had 5-6 hours on shore and half of it was spent driving. It was all fun, but I would save my money and skip river rafting if I were to plan this day in Jamaica again.
Blue Hole is one of the top attractions in this part of Jamaica. Now that I've been there, it's easy to see why. I hope these tips have helped you get an idea of what to expect and how to make the most of this fun family attraction!
Disclosure: We received a discount on our tour from Pat Bailey for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.
Good to Know
Where: St. Ann Parish, Jamaica. Blue Hole is located near the resorts and cruise port at Ocho Rios. It can also be reached from Falmouth, which was our cruise port. It is about 20 minutes drive from the Ocho Rios port and about an hour and 15 minutes from Falmouth.
When: Year-round. Winter is the dry (peak) season and summer is the wet season. We visited in early April – the end of the dry season – and the weather and water were great. We found lots of shade and no insects. Open most days from 9-5. Closed Saturday. Please visit the website for current hours.
How Much: $15US per adult and $10US for kids ages 12 and under, plus a tip for your guide. Our admission was included in the tour we arranged with Pat Bailey. Blue Hole with a driver from Falmouth starts at about $55US per adult. Please visit the website or contact Pat Bailey at [email protected] for current pricing.
How Long: About 2 hours. We were at Blue Hole for 1-2 hours and our time was limited by our cruise ship and tour itinerary. If you want a more leisurely experience at Blue Hole, consider making it your only activity of the day, visiting later in the afternoon after most cruise ship passengers are gone, or visit on a day when there are no cruise ships at Ocho Rios or Falmouth.
Amenities: restrooms, snacks, complimentary life jacket loans, parking
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Sweet Jamaica! This is one country I have to visit. Thanks for pointing out Blue Hole.