So, you're heading to Jamaica and you're not sure if you should visit the new completely Instagramable stop called the Blue Hole or stick to the tried-and-true tourist waterfall known as Dunn's river Falls.
My personal opinion is that you should head to The Blue Hole if you have limited time and skip Dunn's River Falls. If you have time for both, by all means check out both spots they are both unbelivably gorgeous. But, if you're short on time (or money) stick to the The Blue Hole for a better time.
What is the Blue Hole in Jamaica?
The Blue Hole, also known as the Cool Blue Hole on Google Maps, is a popular tourist spot that has some of the most scenic tropical waterfalls and multiple swimming holes you can jump in from diving boards (or rocks) up to 12 meters high.
Where is the Blue Hole located in Jamaica?
You can find the Blue Hole outside of Ocho Rios. Here is the exact location on Google Maps. From the city center it takes about 20 minutes to drive the small (unpaved at times) road to the entrance. I definitely suggest hiring a private driver to tour all the attractions in Ocho Rios. We used the company Paradise Travel Jamaica and our driver was Willy, I highly recommend him!
Remember that even if you are staying in Montego Bay, you can hire a private car (like we did) and visit surrounding cities. From Montego Bay to Ocho Rios is a little over 2 hours each way. We had our driver pick us up from Montego Bay in the early morning (around 6 AM) to head to Ocho Rios. We napped in the car each way and had an extremely full day seeing various waterfalls, driving through Fern Gully, and exploring Mystic Mountain.
Packing List for a trip to the Blue Hole in Jamaica
Don't forget to bring sunscreen, a towel, your bathing suit, and a change of clothes to the Blue Hole. For sunscreen, I highly encourage you to maybe pay a little extra for an eco-friendly version. We need to help the environment and every little bit counts. For face sunscreen, I recommend Biossance Squalane + Mineral SPF 45 and for the rest of your body I suggest this natural sunscreen from Totlogic.
You'll also want to bring water shoes with you to Jamaica. All waterfalls in Jamaica require them and once you arrive at any waterfall attraction (across the country) you’ll need to either rent or buy a pair before you head in. Avoid overpaying while in Jamaica and buy them on Amazon for less than $10 before you leave. They are super tiny and will definitely fit in your luggage.
By the way, here are the exact water shoes I bought, and recommend...
and here is a full packing list for Jamaica - so you don't leave anything behind.
What is the entrance fee for the Blue Hole?
The Blue hole cost $10 per person to enter and that includes a guide. We had Coco as our guide (who I highly recommend if you can ask for him - he's amazing) and he showed us all the best spots on the falls and helped us safety jump and swing from various points. We tipped him (around $20) for a 3 hour trip. We were very generous because he took our huge camera with him all around the falls and got some fantastic shots.
For reference, it costs $20 per person to enter Dunn's River and that includes a guide as well.
Why do I love the Blue Hole over Dunn's River Falls?
One of the things I love most about the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios is that it’s not (as) commercialized compared to Dunn's River Falls. It also has WAY less tourists and you will feel more with nature while there.
Our experience at the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios
We arrived right as the doors opened (around 8 AM) and also choose to go on a non-cruise ship day — meaning there were no cruises scheduled to arrive in Jamaica. It paid off because we had the place almost entirely to ourselves for the first two hours of our visit. A tour bus (with about 30 people) rolled in around 10 AM but even then they took the group to the main waterfall (which we had already visited) and we continued to have the smaller pools to ourselves.
Honestly, I read about the Blue Hole before traveling to Jamaica and it EXCEEDED my expectations. Which is generally pretty hard to do. And not just exceeded them by a little bit, it exceeded my expectations by far. This place is magical.
Basically, the Blue Hole was purely locals only until about 6 or 7 years ago when it started to become insta-famous. Now it has railings being put in and guides for the tourists. You enter to a small lagoon with a super-fun rope swing. Then you can climb a short trail (maybe about 10 minutes) to another portion that has the huge waterfall known from most pictures. There are smaller pools above it and below it you can wade in and relax. Under the main towering waterfall is a small cave that is epic to visit. Next to the main waterfall is a 20 ft diving platform that tourists (and guides) take turns jumping from. It is scary in the funniest way possible.
Pictures from the Blue Hole
Final Thoughts on Jamaica
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).