Tacky Falls

near Port Maria, St Mary Parish, Jamaica

Rating: 3     Difficulty: 2.5
Tacky Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Tacky Falls, of all the waterfalls in Jamaica, was the only one that we felt was truly non-commercialized and back-to-nature. In other words, there were no tourist crush, no facilities, no souvenir shops and food stands, and no climbing the falls. However, that also meant that we had to be prepared as there were no signs, no formal path, and plenty of hazards on the way to even reach this pretty obscure 60m tall (or higher) waterfall. Indeed, it was only this falls in raw and natural settings.

Actually, what's pictured in this page was only the upper tier of the falls. There was also a lower tier, but the local guide told us that it was very difficult and unsafe to reach the bottom to even get the full view of that lower drop (let alone both falls).

In order for us to see this waterfall (upper tier only), we had to come prepared with decent shoes (the better the grip, the lesser the chances of taking a potentially fatal spill) and some hiking attire that we didn't mind brushing up against foliage, branches, and stumps.

Another look at Tacky Falls The way we managed to see the falls involved going through a tour company who had enough connections to figure out how to get to the right place to start the hike. In our case, only the driver had been to the falls before. Our guide had never been to Tacky Falls.

Once we got to the beginning of the hike, which started at a pretty ordinary-looking residence (and was also blaring dancehall reggae music) with some surrounding subsistence farming plots, we followed a local guide familiar with the area. He promptly led us down a very slippery and muddy path to the stream on which the falls was on, then we continued on the trail-of-use path to the top of the falls.

From there, the guide led us onto a very narrow path on a ledge where it was best to hold onto sturdy vines and trunks on the left while trying not to pay too much attention to the dropoff on the right. A fall here would've most certainly been fatal.

Then, we descended another steep and muddy path while holding onto trunks whenever possible until we made it to the base of the upper falls. This was the end of what was probably the longest 15-20 minutes of hiking we can recall doing in recent memory.

Still, we found ourselves right in front of this impressively tall and nearly vertical waterfall that was totally different than any of the other waterfalls we would end up seeing during our stay in Jamaica. The only bad thing was the high noon sun was right on top of the falls, which made photography difficult. We basically waited and hoped for the clouds to block the sun before we proceeded to snap away.

The footing here was very slippery (almost like walking on ice) thanks to persistent algae growing on the bedrock continually wet by the flow of the falls. The local guide showed us where it wasn't as slippery so we could get to other spots around this relatively flat area in between the two tiers of the Tacky Falls. He even led me to the very brink of the lower falls but I really had to be wary of getting too close to the edge since it was a long plunge from up here.

Once we had our fill of this pristine and isolated spot, we returned back the way we came. Although it was much easier to go up, the muddy and slippery sections (not to mention the narrow ledge section) still made things tricky while also requiring a good deal of concentration.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Direct look at Tacky FallsDirect look at Tacky Falls
View of Tacky Falls from the far side of the creekView of Tacky Falls from the far side of the creek
When we were making our way east of Ocho Rios, we got this nice view of the bay by St Mary near Tacky FallsWhen we were making our way east of Ocho Rios, we got this nice view of the bay by St Mary near Tacky Falls
Not far from St Mary and Tacky Falls, we made a brief photo stop of this fancy building, which I believe was called the Jamaica CastleNot far from St Mary and Tacky Falls, we made a brief photo stop of this fancy building, which I believe was called the Jamaica Castle
The building where we met up with our local guideThe building where we met up with our local guide

Descending towards the rough path to Tacky FallsDescending towards the rough path to the falls

It got muddier and more slippery the further down we wentIt got muddier and more slippery the further down we went

On a very narrow and exposed part of the path while being followed by the local dogOn a very narrow and exposed part of the path while being followed by the local dog

More steep and overgrown scramblingMore steep and overgrown scrambling

Finally made it to Tacky FallsFinally made it to Tacky Falls. Note the guide standing at the base of the falls, which provided a sense of how big this waterfall was

The local dog that joined us on this hikeThe local dog that joined us on this hike

Looking up at the falls from right up against itLooking up at the falls from right up against it

Re-crossing the stream to get back to the final ascent to the start of the hikeRe-crossing the stream to get back to the final ascent to the start of the hike. Note that we happened to be joined by what appeared to be Jamaican visitors who have hired a different local guide


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Right to left sweep starting from right at the brink of the lower falls looking down then going all the way to the upper falls against the sun with a zoom-in at the end


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Since we hired a driver and guide, we can't give specific directions on how to get to Tacky Falls from say the Sandals Resort in Ocho Rios. However, we can say that it took us roughly 60 minutes of driving east of Ocho Rios veering off the main road (A3) at Port Maria. From there, we followed a maze of local streets before getting onto a rural road surrounded by land that was more typical of Jamaica's countryside. The road had a few potholes here and there, but by and large, the road to get here was pretty tame compared to other parts of Jamaica (especially in the southwest part of the island).

There was no entrance fee so do tip the local guide generously given how non-trivial it is to reach Tacky Falls. We were told by our tour operator and driver that the locals here generally turn away folks who manage to come here on their own (which would be quite a feat). So it was fortunate that we came with Jamaicans who they approved of.

Lastly, if you're reading the 6th edition of Lonely Planet, you'll note that our way of getting here was very different from what the authors used, which involved boating from Robin's Bay before catching additional transport. We can't say anything more about it since we took perhaps the shortest approach from Ocho Rios.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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