Reach Falls (I’ve also seen it spelled Riech Falls) was a waterfall that was more about the experience than the scenic allure – though its main waterfall was pretty in its own right as it was attractively wide with a rounded shape. That said, I’m not sure I’d agree with LP saying this was up there with YS Falls for the title of most beautiful waterfall in Jamaica.
There was actually a series of smaller cascades and clear blue pools culminating in the main drop that was probably 10m tall though it was much wider. I’m sure there were more cascades further downstream, but I took a guided tour upstream towards some additional smaller cascades culminating in a very cool cave hidden beneath the last cascade we made it up to. I’m not sure if this cave was the Mandingo Cave that was mentioned in the literature.
In addition to the main falls and the hidden cave, there was also a heart-shaped hole under which some small cascades formed little “jacuzzis” that I was able to sit in for a little natural massage. That heart-shaped hole was actually part of a small natural bridge providing an outlet for this little cascade. This outlet then spilled right into a very blue and very clear pool before the water went over the main falls.
My experience at the falls basically went like this.
After paying the admission and getting changed into swimwear (keeping mind there were mosquitoes here), Julie and I walked down a paved path then down some steps towards the base of Reach Falls. There was a fork deviating from the steps leading to the top of the falls where there was access to that heart-shaped hole I mentioned earlier, but we ended up doing this later on our visit.
Once at the bottom, there was a life guard (who actually looked more like a security guard) who let the guide know that I wanted to be guided. The guide happened to be across the stream about to take a group of other folks, but he let me wade across the stream and join their group.
Once I was on the other side, we walked up an established path alongside the main falls then up besides the heart-shaped hole to the top of its falls. Then, we had a choice of staying on dry land or swimming upstream towards another small falls. We had to do this a couple more times to go up a couple more small falls until finally we swam by a couple of deep pools towards the base of a fairly significant 5-10m or so cascade (keep in mind that there were dry paths throughout to get up to this point in the event I didn’t want to swim and just wanted to take photos).
Once at this cascade, here was where the cool part happened. The guide then proceeded to go up near the top of this cascade before disappearing and ending up reappearing at the base of one of the steps of this falls below us! Of course that piqued our curiosity as to how he managed to get downstream of us without us seeing him. And that was when the next time up this cascade, he took us with him.
Once we got up to the top of this cascade, it turned out that there was a little hole that we could get into. Miraculously, most of the cascade did not spill into this hole so that made it pretty easy for us to follow him in.
Once inside the hole, we ended up in a real cool hidden cave where there was one tiny waterfall coming into the cave from a different hole. Most of my torso was above water and it seemed like there was enough room down here for all six of us with some additional breathing room. That extra space alleviated some of the claustrophobia concerns some of us had.
Then, we had to duck our heads briefly under water to re-emerge into an open-air mini-gorge where we had to duck our heads once again to get into yet another cave (though this was significantly smaller than the first one). Finally, we had to hold our breath one last time and go through the backside of the waterfall before us to re-emerge out near the base of the overall falls.
I wish I had a waterproof camera (or better yet, put a waterproof casing around the DLSR) to capture it all, but alas, you’ll have to take my word for it.
Anyways, the tour then went back downstream where we took an alternate dry path towards a familiar little house at the tip of a bend where the steps led back down to the Reach Falls again. But now we took the fork leading to the top of the falls. And that was when the guide had us go into the pool beneath the heart-shaped hole for a little “jacuzzi”. There was also another little “jacuzzi” further upstream if the heart-shaped hole got a little crowded.
Finally, the little guided tour ended with a descent directly down the far right extreme of the main Reach Falls. All told, the guided tour took roughly one hour, and the only additional cost was to tip the guide for helping showing us the cool hidden parts of this waterfall.
Since we hired a driver and guide, we can’t give specific directions on how to get to Reach Falls. However, we do know that it’s inland from the town of Manchioneal, and it’s about 2.5 hours from the Sandals Ocho Rios to the entrance of the falls (much of the road is twisty and narrow as well as full of slow traffic requiring passing).
I believe we paid $10 USD per person during our December 2011 visit not including transportation costs, which was pretty significant given the long distances.
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