It’s that time of year. All things scream fall – especially in the realm of travel. Leaf-peeping tour options plaster most travel web sites and magazines. Pages are practically ablaze with brilliant reds, yellows and oranges.
I’m not hating on autumn foliage, really. I simply propose something slightly different. So, here is a Caribbean take on top five fall destinations – waterfalls! Yes, the colors may vary slightly. That is, unless you count the red hues of a rum punch or the yellow sun bouncing off the water.
Somerset Falls, Jamaica
Locals and tourists alike frequent Somerset Falls, located just outside Port Antonio. This stunning waterfall is concealed amidst the rainforest, where the Daniels River plunges down a narrow gorge.
Visitors pay an entrance fee and receive a wristband. From there, you can explore the grounds, sit on a shady bench and enjoy the tranquility, or go all in. By all in, I mean exploring the breathtaking grotto of the falls.
Begin in a guided boat, and if you aren’t a confident swimmer, opt for a vest. With or without one, plan on jumping in at some point. The turquoise water and thundering falls captivate your senses. Hop onto a flat rock for a waterfall back massage – totally worth the price of entry. Increase your heart rate and check off a bucket list item by jumping off the falls into the water (which is about 105 feet deep).
After your invigorating dip, refuel with a meal of local seafood or spicy jerk pork at the Garden Restaurant or belly up at the Rhythm and Booze bar. The park also provides bathroom and changing facilities.
These colorful cascades are found on the grounds of Soufriere Estate, one of the oldest and best-preserved estates on St. Lucia. Although swimming under the falls is prohibited, visitors can take healing baths in the volcanic mineral waters that flow from the falls.
Photo opportunities are numerous when the sun shines. The rainbow-like qualities of the minerals – yellow sulfur, orange iron, red alkaline, and green copper – reflect beautifully through the water.
Other onsite attractions include the Botanical Gardens, Mineral Baths and Spa the Nature Trail, the Old Mill Restaurant and the historic Soufriere Estate House.
Located in the rainforest of Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Emerald Pool Falls plunges 50 feet into a fern fringed pool. Surrounded by such a lush canopy, the pool bears witness to its name. A relatively easy ten-minute hike and a $5 entrance fee will get you there. Photo opportunities abound, as this has been a popular backdrop for many movies. Also, plan for a refreshing dip in the emerald pool – extra towels and clothing are a good idea. Consider comfortable walking shoes, snacks and drinks, as well.
As with many popular attractions, Emerald Pool Falls lures the masses. Get there before 10 am – especially if a cruise ship is in port.
El Salto Del Limon Waterfall, Samana, Dominican Republic
If you’re relatively fit and up for an adventure, this is the trek for you. El Salto Del Limon is tucked away the north east of the Dominican Republic, in the Peninsula of Samana. Though situated in a protected, lush tropical forest, this 165-foot high beauty receives more than 40,000 visitors annually.
Guided trips on horseback are available through a variety of local outfitters, or you can opt to hike the trail. Either way, consider wearing comfortable shoes or boots. Should your visit occur during the rainy season (between May and November), the trail can get muddy, so rain gear is a good bet.
The restaurant located at the entrance of the trail serves buffet style local traditional cuisine. You should also bring a backpack with snacks, water and sunscreen. If you plan on taking a dip, include your change of clothes. Wearing your swimsuit underneath beforehand is the easier way to go.
As with most tropical climates – it heats up quickly. Start early to avoid the hottest part of the day. Many times guides depend solely on tips as their income. Plan accordingly.
Climbing 600 feet, this Ocho Rios landmark is Jamaica’s biggest tourist attraction. And with good reason – cool crisp falls cascading down terraced travertine rock under a lush green canopy. What’s not to love?
Getting to the top a definitely a group effort – hand in hand. Guides help you along, holding your camera and stopping for those all important photo ops.
Post climb, you can check out live music, nosh on local jerk chicken or grab a souvenir at the visitors’ compound. Make sure you get your photo with Bunny the donkey.
Wear water shoes (or rent them onsite), and get there before 10 am when the crowds pour in.