First, just how potentially scary would these falls be for my wife who is afraid of heights. Also, one of my kids is not that great with his footing, he is ten, however. Is it really tricky or anyone can get to the top.
Second, is there a way to avoid the pushy vendors, if so, is it with a tour, without one, any certain one?
There is also a stairway up the side of the falls if your wife has problems climbing the rocks.. I think the only way around the vendors would be to go back all the way down, unless anyone else has seen another way?
the best way to avoid the vendors is to book a ship's tour - you can do it by land or by sea. The vendors are very aggressive.
There is a stairway that goes alongside the falls, if you think the climb will be too difficult . You can start the climb and there are "outways" to the stairs during the climb if you find it to be too difficult.
The falls are amazing. the climb is not straight up and they aren't really all that high, so that might not even be an issue for your wife.
I know I'm going to start a Posting Fire Fight here but I just want to make a comment about Dunns Falls Jamaica. First, the actual Falls is beautiful, fun, and interesting to see. However, Jamaica has a terrible problem with its aggressive, to the point of scary, vendors. They were absolutely as bad as everyone says and worse. We were followed all the way from the Falls to our ship's tour buses and then one of the guys banged on the glass of the bus where we were sitting and called me Mr. Kennedy! If you even touch anything they are selling, to them, you bought it. If you attempted to walk away, they screamed that you were not paying for what you purchased. Later when we went back to our ship, I discovered something and learned a valuable lesson. We were with a group attendng a professional meeting on the ship. When we returned, several of the meeting participants told us that they have been to Jamaica previously and decided to stay onboard while the other passengers got off. They had the entire run of the ship. Quiet pools, empty hot tubs, quiet lunch in the dining room and no problem finding a lounge chair wherever they wanted to sit. I will never set foot in Jamaica again. I'll take advantage of the ship's facilities and let the other passengers be badgered all afternoon. My apologies to anyone who likes Jamaica and anyone disappointed to hear such a bad review but that's the facts. And in case anyone wants to challenge my experience with vendors, I've sailed the Western Caribbean x 3, the Eastern Caribbean x2, and the southern Caribbean as well as visiting islands like Bermuda many times. We didn't even have any problems like this in Mexico when we visited Cozumel, Playa de Carmen, and Cancun. At Dunns Falls, there is no avoiding this problem.
I have to agree with my fellow cruisers, Jamacia is a beautiful island and Dunn River Falls is extraordinary!! I got ill when I saw two to three young ladies ( I was right behind them on the climb up the falls and they were on the same tour bus) when they got "rushed" ( I am being pleaseant right now) let me tell you folks "No Mon" did not work!! one of the young ladies was on the verge of crying. I asked them as nice as I could to leave these ladies alone. To cut out all the drama, I asked for help from male cruisers, who responded very quickly and we excorted these ladies back to our tour bus . I made a complaint to the Cruise director apond return to our ship. My name is Duke and I wanted to Thank these Guys ONE AGAIN for coming to my aid in helping these ladies. Your Names are not as important as I wanted to tell my fellow cruisemates YOU did a" Most Excellent Deed".
I agree with Machss at the post above.Jamaica has a bad problem with the vendors. There is also a serious crime problem. anyone taking a tour sould stay with the ships guides and they should help out. We have been to so many of the island, Bahamas, east carrib,west carrib, etc that now we stay on board and enjoy the peace and quiet..
What a shame....
while I've never been to Jamaica, I hear it has some wonderful scenery and experiences. And I wouldn't go there on a bet, all due to the aggressiveness of these 'vendors', and the reputation of it being a dangerous place.
(I'm zipping up my flamesuit now)
I realize these people have to make a living, and by selling their wares they are supporting perhaps a family, kids, elderly parents, but they need to understand that I'm much more likely to purchase something if given a chance to browse, compare items or prices and make an informed decision, rather than having crap stuffed into my hands and then a demand for payment. I know I'm not buying a car here, but seriously...
Pity, because in the end, they'll only have each other to sell their stuff to.
The best vendor experience I've have was in Guardalavaca, Cuba. (Sorry US readers :o) )The vendors are set up in a town square more like a market. The vendors not only speak excellent English (I do speak a little Spanish), but will engage you in a conversation about their carving, leatherwork, painting or other souvenir and if you choose NOT to buy something from them, they'll send you off with a thank you for the visit and wishes for a fine day. I have been approached on the streets to buy cigars, but a simple 'no gracias' and the conversation ends.
Needless to say, my house is full of Cuban art, carvings and great memories.
The Jamaicans could learn a lot from these fine people.
Is it mainly at Dunn river falls or all over that the vendors are aggressive. I do plan on buying items but do I stand a better chance of not getting totally hasseled if I am in a smaller group were my guilde can tell the vendors no if they do not listen to me. Or do they not listen to them either. What seems to be the best way to get away.
Thanks for any help
Post Edited (08-19-04 08:47)
Dawn Princess 2004
Emerald Princess 2008
it seems that the pushy vendors congregate at the popular "touristy" sites, thus Dunns River Falls. Save your shopping for the malls that are in the main hotel resorts when it comes to Jamaica. Yes you are safer with a group and a tour guide who can get you away from the vendors. Another great hint- Arrive by water to the Falls, book a water tour that goes to the beach and the falls - when you are done with your climb, you walk back down the other side of the falls to the beach thus avoiding all the vendors that are at the top where the buses and taxis are.
I too ran into that problem at the falls. My husband had on a t-shirt that said BMW. (he bought his used truck from a BMW dealer) and they gave him a shirt. Well To those folks selling their things at the falls, we were RICH! (Not). They kept calling him bmw man and pushing stuff on us. One of the ladies that was with us was a very beautiful BLONDE. You can only guess how they took to her. My husband almost had to drag her out of there. We were scared to death! But seeing how they live was a real eye opener for us. We are so lucky that we have what we do (as far as our house, car, boat etc.) By no means are my husband and myself weathy, but the dear Lord has blessed us in many ways.
I was in Jamaica 20 years ago, and it sounds like things haven't changed much. Somehow we got through DRF without too much hassle - I think they were all busy chasing other tourists at the time.
The comment about touching any merchandise rings true as well. Don't even mention a price you'd be willing to pay or you'll spend hours trying to get away from the guy. This is true anywhere in Jamaica.
I think they take advantage of our reluctance to be rude. The guidebooks tell you to say "No thanks" and keep walking, but that doesn't always work either.
We were there in April and had a tour with Phil Lafayette. He does a great tour and most importantly he keeps the vendors away from you. We had trouble at Dunn's Falls because Phil wasn't with us while we climbed the falls. Climbing wasn't as easy as everyone had told us and we'd not do it again. Our climb guide was in our face for his tip as soon as we reached the top and came after us two more times to try to get tipped again. If you stay to the left and exit through the entrance you won't be bothered by the vendors. They will try to steer you to the right but ignore them and stay left.
We just returned from a cruise with a stop in Jamaica. We went to Dunns River Falls and found hat, while pushy, the vendors were far from intimidating. Here's a big tip: don't stop and look at the merchandise. There are plenty of places to buy souvenirs while in Jamaica, so don't buy anything at the falls. We said, "no thanks" and kept walking. No one bothered us or any of the people on our tour (booked with Peat Taylor who is fantastic). Don't tell them your name or where you're from b/c they'll engrave it in something quickly & now you have to buy it or you will be harassed. Don't shake hands with anyone. We did see one man make the mistake of shaking hands with a vendor, who quickly pulled him towards his store-hut and wouldn't let go of the mn's hand. Say no thank you, keep walking and you'll be perfectly fine and far from afraid. I'm a very slight woman and I felt completely safe walking. Just don't make the mistake of looking at what's being sold and don't take anything they try to put in your hands.
The falls are an adventure. I am a somewhat overweight late 40's, and I managed to do the complete fall climb. I would highly recommend water shoes. This is probably not the best place for someone afraid of heights but your son should be fine with water shoes and an occassional helping hand. Our falls tour guide was great, very helpful and not pushy about his tip, but of course we were prepared to tip him and did. I also recommend Peat Taylor Tours. THe best hint about the aggressive vendors (this is what we did)... My husband and I hooked arms with our daughter and walked briskly through.Do not make eye contact ,do not say anything, not even no thanks or hello. They called after us and even said why are you running away from us. Ignore Ignore Ignore. Then shop at the shops closer to the ship, you will feel much safer there. FYI we stopped at Margaritaville, they have a pool, a waterslide, and a beach right there with police to keep out unwanted vendors. My daughter really liked the slide. Peat Taylor also offers a stop for a traditional Jamaican lunch but we had to meet people at Margaritaville. Have fun
The Dunns River Falls is really the only thing that is worth seeing in Jamaica. Definitely take water shoes as some of the rocks can be a bit slippery and it is quite a hike to make it all the way up. Since you do hold hands with your group, everyone is helped along.
As we left, all we did is walk past the vendors, said no thank you a couple of times and
went right back to the bus (we booked a tour with Peat Taylor too who is fantastic). It is the first stop on his tour so the Falls is not busy at all.
The amount of vendors at Dunns River Falls is nothing in comparison to the flea market stop that Peat Taylor made. We were pretty stupid to walk through the market where the vendors practically dragged my daughters into their stalls (they were early teens at the time) We made it out as soon as we could. It was a very stressful experience and having been to other cities and countries that have aggressive vendors, Jamaica wins the prize.
Personally would never go back to Ochos Rios again. Would rather stay on the ship as I didnt find anything worth buying anyways and found the same jerk sauce available at a Caribbean store where I live. Sad thing is that Jamaica is beautiful and am sure there ar some wonderful shopping areas that we just werent taken to.
Apparently I must have visited a completely different Jamaica as everyone else as I experienced none of these negatives that others have mentioned.
My friend and I were on the Norwegian Sun and took the Kayaking to Dunn's River Falls excursion. They take you to an unnamed beach where you board the kayaks and sail out to James Bond beach first. This was named so because they filmed parts of Dr. No there. (including the Ursula Andress coming out of the water in the white bikini scene). The beach must be difficult to access as there was no one there but our group. The water was so warm it was almost hot. There was an ice cold waterfall rushing down to the beach. Overall a beautiful scene. They gave us refreshments and encouraged people to dive into these pools in the waterfall. We spent about 30-45 minutes there before sailing on to Dunn's River Falls.
We sailed into the beach area at the bottom of the Falls and met our guide for the climb. I will advise here that this was a VERY RIGOROUS climb. If you are not in good walking/climbing shape then you should not do it. I don't know how many times members of our group, including myself went tumbling down over sharp and slippery rocks. The problem is you often cannot see what you are stepping in to in a pool of water and that's when you miss your footing, or if the person in front of you does not pull you up properly or the person behind you pulls you down (everyone in the group holds hands while you climb). I do have to note though that our group seemed to take the less traveled, more difficult route up the Falls on the right side, bypassing many groups going up the left. If I had a complaint it was that the Falls guides were rushing us along many times and that's when people would slip. They were good about stopping at each level though to take pictures with each person's camera (they came out so-so when developed) and they had a video camera shooting our group's climb which you could buy at the end of the trip and pick-up later on the ship. We did that. It came out very well and was nicely balanced to get everyone in the group throughout the video.
Once at the top we encountered no vendors at all pushing stuff on anyone. There was an odd fellow wandering around in a dress pulling a donkey offering to have pictures taken with anyone, and there were vendors stationed at little huts around. But I saw no one being aggressive with any tourists in our group or any other group. If I found anything uncomfortable it was being pressured to tip both the Kayak tour leader and then later the Falls tour leader.
At the pier itself there were no vendors either. We were at the older run-down pier though next to some abandoned factory which was just a bit from the center of Ocho Rios, so maybe no vendors wander down that way.
Anyway, I was very impressed with my Jamaica experience after all the negatives I'd heard and I would highly recommend a stop in Ocho Rios.