You read that right – walking UP waterfalls. Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica, to be exact, and the experience is magical.
Jamaica is the land of Bob Marley, reggae, and all-inclusive resorts hugging the coast. The adventure began in one of those resorts, at the Grand Bahia Principe Hotel not far east of Montego Bay and nestled into Runaway Bay on the northern beaches.
Squeezed in between rum punches and peaceful beach enclaves were ample reminders of the science all around us. The most noticeable geology near the resort were karst formations in the limestone. Plant life ranges broadly from various palms, bamboo, ferns, mahogany and rosewood in wet areas to cactus in dry areas.
But one of the biggest attractions was a little further east along the coast near Ocho Rios. Dunn’s River Falls is a terraced waterfall system over 600 feet long. As the river flows downward it cascades over dozens of mini-precipices, dropping from one ledge to another down the hillside, occasionally resting in small pools interspersed in the vertical walls. That vertical is a mere 180 feet or so but the varied dips and dives is what makes the waterfall so special. As does the fact that you can climb it.
The falls are a major tourist attraction in Jamaica, drawing thousands of visitors a year. We started on the white sandy beach at its base, then joined a line of other intrepid souls carefully hiking up the slippery rocks while lush tropical vegetation cooled us from the morning sun. The water shoes we purchased the night before came in handy as we battled the splashing streams pushing us downward while we forged our way upward. Steadying ourselves in the hands of total strangers a minute before, now suddenly friends (or perhaps, co-conspirators in our survival quest), we reached the top in fulfillment of our goals after about an hour and half trek. Being drenched from head to toe was overwhelmed by the smiles on our faces that warmed us from skin to soul.
Relaxing back at the resort, we reveled in the joy of listening to live reggae music on the veranda while sipping another rum punch and marveling at the science that is all around us.
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.
[Note that all photos were taken by me except the one of the waterfall, which is a stock photo I grabbed off the internet. After all, I was busy being wet at the time.]