None of the excursions offered by the cruise line really interested me, but all the positive online reviews of Turtle River Falls persuaded me to try it. So two friends and I started to walk directly there from the port at Ocho Rios. A very nice uniformed man (tourist authority, I think he was) met us on a corner a block or so inland, and suggested we take a taxi, and found us a driver immediately who would take us for $5 apiece (each way). Since the taxi drivers at the dock were quoting a price of $50, we figured this was a bargain. He drove us up the hill, though the gates, and at the entrance building said he'd find someone to help us. Soon a young woman invited us into her sparse office, where she collected our $20 each and asked me to sign in on a sheet giving my name, how I got to the island, and where I heard about the facility.
Then our guide Jordan met us and took us up the trails beside the falls. We were followed by a photographer whose name I cannot remember (the optional photo CD at the end was $20). At one point we put on our water shoes and waded to a bench in the midst of the falls, and had our picture taken there. One friend and I are avid photographers, and Jordan let us take as much time as we needed. A couple of times along the way, he stepped off the trail to open a valve and let air out of the water pipes, and he told us in addition to being a guide, he's also the plumber!
After the falls, we went by the koi pond, where Jordan whistled and all the fish came over. Then it was the aviary, where the birds found my friend's wide-brimmed hat to be a convenient two-level condominium for feeding purposes. My other friend thought the bird feeding alone was worth the price of admission. After a quick hand-wash outside the aviary, we meandered back to the entrance building, where we waited for the photographer to burn our CD. Our taxi driver arrived to pick us up, and we went back to port.
Originally, we were told the tour would take about 45 minutes, but I asked the driver to come back in about an hour and a half instead, and we used up every minute of that and then some, and could have stayed longer. But we were getting hungry, and our driver was waiting, so we went off to Margaritaville for lunch.
Also, we bought bottles of water in one of the many shops at the port and took those with us. There isn't really a concession of any sort at the Falls and Gardens, so if you want to eat or drink, bring it along with you.
The facilities themselves are a little rustic around the edges, but the restrooms were clean and in perfect working order, the people were wonderfully friendly, and the natural beauty of the tropical rain forest and the falls (and the koi and the birds!) are unmatched.
After we left our ship back in Fort Lauderdale, we met up with some people who were waiting to board the next cruise on the same ship, and we told them about Turtle River Falls. I hope they find their way there!
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