Konoko Falls and Park – mixing nature with sun, sea and sand
Tucked away in the dense greenery of the hills overlooking the picturesque coastline and white-sand beaches of Ocho Rios in St Ann is a lesser-known attraction called Konoko Falls and Park.
Located just five minutes up the hill from the Ocho Rios town centre, in the lush tropical forest in the Shaw Park area, is this 10-acre attraction owned and operated by the Guardsman Group.
It offers a serene and diverse experience for those seeking to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of nature while being a stone's throw away from the sun, sea and sand that's synonymous with destination Jamaica.
Konoko Falls and Park's Laura Heron says before now, the attraction was a best-kept secret.
"It's like a little piece of paradise in the middle of Ocho Rios," she told The Gleaner.
Konoko Falls and Park is slowly gaining recognition, as it was recently given an award by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association for its unique tourism offerings.
Heron says that while there may be other attractions with waterfalls and rivers around the resort town, Konoko is unique in that it is easier to climb, as the gradient is not as steep and the rocks are composed of limestone, which makes them easy to grip. Everyone, from children to the elderly, can enjoy the Konoko experience.
"It's not a cascading falls. It takes about half-hour to get from the bottom to the top. beautifully landscaped all the way up and you have little areas along the waterfalls that you can immerse yourself in the water," she explained.
"When you get to the top of the falls, you have another area up there that's quite amazing and stunning, because you get a spectacular view of Ocho Rios Bay, and when the cruise ships coming in to port you can see them," Heron added.
Topping the attraction's uniqueness, she says,is the fact that Konoko is a former settlement site for the Tainos, who first inhabited Jamaica. This is reflected in the buildings and layout of structures found at the Konoko Falls and Park.
Heron says Taino artefacts have been found on the property, which is put on display as part of the unique experience being offered to visitors.
The Konoko manager says guests get to connect with nature while they get a glimpse of life during the time when the Tainos inhabited the island. Tour guides take guests on a brief journey back in time, while allowing them to see and touch a few of the indigenous species of birds and plants at the zoo and botanical garden that are on the property.
Konoko Falls and Park is great for company fun days, family reunions, church and community groups, school trips, weddings and other special events, photo shoots, gala events and parties.
The rates are US$20 per person, while children above three years old pay half-price.