Reggae Falls – St Thomas's hidden gem


Reggae Falls – St Thomas's hidden gem

Observer writer

Sunday, July 21, 2019

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This summer, we are all about seeing the best our country has to offer, but without breaking the bank. And where sightseeing is concerned, cheap is good and free is even better. Cue our recommendation for a road trip to Reggae Falls in Hillside, St Thomas.

The journey from Kingston, which took roughly two hours (factoring in an impromptu photo shoot and picnic at the popular roadside Roselle Falls on the way) to Hillside was generally uneventful, unless you consider bad roads and poor leg circulation exciting.

Getting to Reggae Falls is straightforward enough and requires you to drive towards the major towns of Yallahs then Seaforth, which are easily found thanks to decent signage. Thereafter, it's perhaps best to check with one of the locals to ensure you are on the correct path to the Hillside community before proceeding.

Google Maps is helpful, but up to a point. Once at Hillside, you will likely run into a couple, or half a dozen, people including childrenwho will offer assistance to get to the falls. Don't assume they are just being helpful; they expect to be tipped.

The route from the community to the falls is perhaps the most interesting part of the entire drive. Traversing dirt roads, navigating what seemed to be an abandoned quarry and then driving across the actual river at two different points (be grateful there has been very little rain lately) only served to build anticipation for the arrival at our destination.

A couple of men jerking chicken, another selling soft drinks and visitors either arriving or preparing to leave dotted the riverbank which led to the falls about 200 metres away. The sight ahead surpassed all expectations. Despite not being as thunderous as anticipated, the steady assault of water from the 18-metre high falls created by the remnants of a deserted hydroelectric project from the 1920s was enough to stop several late arrivals in their tracks, as others hurried to take photos before the spray from the falls affected their shots.

About 40 people milled about, some off to the sides enjoying the view and a smoke by a few adults, while others splashed about in the chilly water. While a thoroughly enjoyable experience, once the obligatory Instagram post is made, there isn't much else to do at the falls besides hang around and enjoy the company of friends; the amenities are non-existent.

It was mentioned that there are steps in the undergrowth which lead to the top of the falls but no one ventured to take up the challenge that day.

Often considered the 'forgotten parish' because of a lack of infrastructure, investment and general opportunities for residents, St Thomas's future may be brighter than ever with the ground breaking of the planned Morant Bay Urban Centre at the old Goodyear factory in the parish last month. But until then, the natural beauty of the parish and the warm welcome extended by its residents are enough to keep people visiting.

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