Tacky Falls

Port Maria, St Mary Parish, Jamaica

About Tacky Falls


Hiking Distance: 2km round trip; scramble
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2011-12-27
Date last visited: 2011-12-27

Waterfall Latitude: 18.34062
Waterfall Longitude: -76.85293

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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.

Tacky_Falls_013_12272011 - Tacky Falls (the upper waterfall)
Tacky Falls (the upper waterfall)

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 waterfall in raw and natural settings, just as it was meant to be.

Actually, what’s pictured above (as well as the rest of this page) was only the upper tier of Tacky Falls.

There was also a lower tier, but the local guide told us that it was very difficult and unsafe to reach the bottom.

So we’ve never been able to even get the full view of neither the lower drop of Tacky Falls nor the contextual view of both waterfalls.

Accessing the Upper Tacky Falls

Tacky_Falls_003_12272011 - Following the local guide in a bit of a bushwhack towards Tacky Falls
Following the local guide in a bit of a bushwhack towards Tacky Falls

In order for us to see Tacky Falls (upper tier only), we had to come prepared.

We did so by wearing 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.

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 Tacky Falls before while our guide had never been.

Once we got to the beginning of the hike, which started at a pretty ordinary-looking residence (which was also blaring dancehall reggae music) with some surrounding subsistence farming plots, we followed a local guide familiar with the area.

Tacky_Falls_006_12272011 - The local guide leading down another steep descent to the bottom of the upper drop of Tacky Falls after having traversed a pretty narrow and scary ledge
The local guide leading down another steep descent to the bottom of the upper drop of Tacky Falls after having traversed a pretty narrow and scary ledge

He promptly led us down a very slippery and muddy path to the stream on which the waterfall was on, then we continued on the trail-of-use path to the top of the Tacky Falls.

From there, the guide led us onto a very narrow ledge where it was best to hold onto sturdy vines and trunks on our 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 Tacky Falls.

This was the end of what was probably the longest 15-20 minutes of hiking we can recall doing in recent memory.

Experiencing the Upper Tacky Falls

Tacky_Falls_021_12272011 - Contextual look upstream at the upper drop of Tacky Falls
Contextual look upstream at the upper drop of Tacky Falls

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 Tacky 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, which was 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.

Tacky_Falls_033_12272011 - Julie touching the water tumbling down the upper drop of Tacky Falls
Julie touching the water tumbling down the upper drop of 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.

Authorities

Tacky Falls resides near Port Maria in the St Mary Parish, Jamaica. To my knowledge, the waterfall itself is neither privately owned nor administered by a government entity. However, access to the waterfall may require crossing through private land or require at least some coordination and guidance with a local in the know. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try to visit this website.

Tacky_Falls_002_12272011 - Descending towards the rough path to Tacky Falls as we followed the local guide waiting for us to catch up
Tacky_Falls_004_12272011 - On a very narrow and exposed part of the path while being followed by the local dog on the way down to Tacky Falls
Tacky_Falls_007_12272011 - Finally making it down to the bottom of the upper drop of Tacky Falls
Tacky_Falls_004_jx_12272011 - The local guide stood near the bottom of the upper drop of Tacky Falls, so this kind of gives you a sense of scale of how big the waterfall was
Tacky_Falls_016_12272011 - Looking towards the upper drop of Tacky Falls from the other side of its creek, which required a great deal of care to get to given how slippery the bedrock was
Tacky_Falls_023_12272011 - The local dog that joined us on this hike posing in front of Tacky Falls
Tacky_Falls_027_12272011 - Looking up at the Tacky Falls from right up against it
Tacky_Falls_035_12272011 - After having our fill of the Upper Tacky Falls, we re-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

join-booking-970x240-1.jpg


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.

Tacky_Falls_001_12272011 - This was the local residence that was nearest to where we accessed the bushwhack or trail-of-use leading down to Tacky Falls. I believe the local guide who helped us came from here, but the well-dressed guy in this photo was our guide making the inquiry
This was the local residence that was nearest to where we accessed the bushwhack or trail-of-use leading down to Tacky Falls. I believe the local guide who helped us came from here, but the well-dressed guy in this photo was our guide making the inquiry

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.

Right to left sweep starting downstream over brink of lower falls (not seen) then ending at top of the upper 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


Top down sweep from directly in front of the upper falls

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Tagged with: st mary, saint mary, port maria, jamaica, waterfall, caribbean, robins bay



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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