Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Enjoying the Jamaican Outdoors - Drivers' River saves the day

Published:Sunday | April 5, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Long Bay
Reach Falls

The advertisement by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) stated that Reach Falls and all the other attractions it operates are open to the public on every public holiday. With that, 28 of us from the Fun & Thrills Adventure Club cycled a healthy and enjoyable 32 miles from Mona to Morant Bay on the first leg of another adventure to Reach Falls. After counting in all the riders, we stowed the cycles in vehicles and drove on to Reach Falls.

We had planned to drive from Morant Bay to Reach Falls, as cycling those remaining 59 miles would cut too much into our swimming time. The general idea was to spend the day frolicking at the falls and this would allow us the time to revel and relax there.

On arrival at Reach Falls at around 10 a.m., we were refused entry. According to the security guard at the gate, the place was closed on Good Friday, despite UDC's advertisement proclaiming that the attraction is open on public holidays.

Hot and disappointed, we needed a place to swim, relax and cool off. At first, we went on to nearby Long Bay to swim, but while that beach is lovely to behold, it is more conducive to surfing than for swimming.


great swimming area


Luckily, one of our members, Trinidad-born environmentalist Kimberly John, was on spot with us. Kimberley had already carried out extensive work on fresh-water ecology in Jamaica and promptly told us about a great swimming area at the southern section of the Drivers' River. The Drivers' River flows out of the Blue and John Crow mountains, forms the cascading Reach Falls on its way through lush rainforest and empties out into the Caribbean Sea at Manchioneal.

Access to this swimming area required us to travel back to the main road and drive south for about half a mile. We then turned west onto an easy-to-miss unpaved road. After driving a short distance, we arrived at a fording where locals were washing cars and trucks in the cool, clean river water. After gingerly crossing the fording and proceeding for about another two hundred metres through sparse bushes, we were welcomed by the most beautiful, deep-swimming area. It also featured a natural high ledge along which all who wished could dive off into the cool, deep river below. At this point, I recommend that visitors verify with the locals as to whether the river is high or low before diving off the ledge.

Despite several exploratory nature trips previously undertaken by us into Portland, including one where we walked in the same Drivers' River from the southern section up to the falls, we never before came across this brand-new discovery. It took a foreigner to lead us to this glorious swimming area in the winding Drivers' River, and a truly wonderful day was enjoyed by all.

- Joan Williams, moderator of Joan Williams on Line broadcast on Power 106, describes herself as an unapologetic addict to the Jamaican outdoors. A foundation member of The Fun and Thrills Adventure Club, she explores the island at any given opportunity cycling, hiking or swimming with that group, family and anyone else who will have her. In 1995, she published Tour Jamaica with the 4th edition now an

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