The YS River is the main tributary of the Black River – Jamaica’s largest navigable river. The YS River emerges from limestone caves and springs high above the location of the YS Falls in the Breadnut Hills. From there, the river flows 30km, dropping approximately 40 metres in height through seven falls.
The YS Falls are located on the south-western side of Jamaica, in the parish of St. Elizabeth. This is sugar growing country, also known as the “breadbasket of Jamaica”.
YS Falls is an amazing area of natural beauty and is a great attraction for nature lovers. The YS is relatively secluded and accessing the the falls is part of the fun! Upon entry to the YS estate, you will then be taken up to the falls by an old jitney tractor. The dusty country path from the Estate to the nature site is beautiful in itself. You ride through lush, rich green fields, filled with gorgeously green and bushy age-old trees, and adorable fields filled with horses and ponies! It was beautiful and so peaceful. I only later learned that these wonderful creatures are in fact thoroughbreds, who are bred and raised on the YS Estate. All the yearlings are sent to Caymanas Park to be prepared for the racetrack.
The YS Falls is a special place. It is attractive both for the nature lover and the active traveller. The falls are large, and surrounded by Jamaican jungle. It is essentially a natural playground, which has been enhanced to create a more interactive experience for visitors. It is not a climb like Dunn’s River Falls, and in fact, I didn’t find the water to be as clear and soft as Dunn’s, but it isn’t any less enjoyable. With Dunn’s it is a challenge to take everything in, as you are climbing en masse with your small group and experienced guide. You can take in the whole of YS at your own leisure, and take the time to genuinely appreciate the surroundings. I can only hope that my photos do it justice for you.
Man-made steps have been built alongside the falls, allowing you to climb up and down the waterfalls without getting wet. (This might be attractive to people with limited time and long car journeys ahead of them.) Access points into the seven natural pools are available at various points along the walkway, allowing you to take a plunge or a swim in the YS Falls. A number of other different activities are also available; tubing along the falls, flying through the jungle canopy 🙂 aka canopy zip-line tour (12m / 40ft above the falls), nature walks, you can also jump into one of the pools from a rope… Tarzan style 🙂 , there is also an extremely inviting spring water man-made pool located at the foot of the falls. The pool is extremely rejuvenating. Excellent eco-friendly facilities are available on site, enabling you to make the most of your visit.
The YS Estate began in the 17th Century as a sugar cane and logwood producer, exporting produce to Europe. It is believed that the name YS originates from the original owners of the Estate; Yates and Scott. In 1950, the Estate branched out into breeding thoroughbreds and cattle. It is unclear how much sugar cane and logwood production still takes place on the Estate. The YS Estate finally opened as a tourist attraction in 1990. I have the impression that it has developed a fair bit since then, and it is a popular attraction. It is great to see that visitor numbers are controlled with the aim of protecting the natural environment. Visitor numbers are even controlled via the Jitney transporters.
I love Jamaica’s natural beauty. When you arrive on the island, you can see that it is obviously green, lush, mountainous, and surrounded by gorgeous caribbean waters. But you really have to get moving, and get exploring, to discover the true natural beauty of this wonderful Caribbean island. It is extremely surprising, and frankly, unfathomable because there is always more mountain, more greenery, more birds, more animals, more trees…! No picture alone, and no stay in a secluded all-inclusive resort will ever show you the true depth that exists to this beautiful island.