Breadnut Valley Falls, Jamaica
CHASING WATERFALLS AT BREADNUT VALLEY FALLS
My journey to Breadnut Valley Falls came as a result of not only my never-ending need to wander and explore more of my home country Jamaica as was mentioned in My 2018 adventure list. It was rather also the result of my need to connect and have shared experiences with some of my fellow local bloggers. What I hope to be the beginning of many other treks and outings saw us setting out to discover the stunning scenes of nature that is Breadnut Valley Falls.
To many the name Breadnut Valley Falls may draw blank stares and question marks. But, to the well-versed locals, Breadnut Valley falls is one of the best kept local travel secrets in Jamaica. Rooted in Maggoty, St. Elizabeth; the beautiful Breadnut Valley Falls (often known to locals as Maggoty Falls) is an off the beaten path series of majestic cascade waterfalls and mesmerizing turquoise pools that emerge into a cool and refreshing river. This spectacular view transfixes not only the eyes but also the soul at first sight.
Dubbed the bread basket of Jamaica due to its highly fertile soil and high percentage of farming communities that is largely responsible for a good portion of the country’s food supply and agriculture industry; St. Elizabeth is more notably known for popular destinations and attractions such as YS Falls, the Black River Safari, the Appleton Jamaica Rum Tour and Floyd’s Pelican Bar. But nestled deep and unmarred in the lush evergreen of Breadnut Valley, Maggoty is the enchanting Breadnut Valley Falls.
HOW TO GET THERE
An approximately two and a half hour drive from my home parish of Kingston; St. Elizabeth is the southwestern parish that lies comfortably between the parishes of Manchester and Westmoreland.
Travelling from Kingston via the Mandela Highway, we opted to take the left turn onto the PJ Patterson Highway stretch of Highway 2000 that transports motorists from the Eastern parts of the country to the Western parishes and vice versa. For a total fee of $550 J per trip for my class 1 motorcar, we gained unlimited and easy access to amazing roads and beautiful scenery that intimately borders the highway along the journey.
Once through the highways’ toll booth it’s essentially one straight line toward St. Elizabeth. Just stay on the main road and don’t take any random and unnecessary turn offs. Now along the journey you will pass 2 round-a-bouts. The first will be in May Pen, Clarendon where you’ll follow the road to end up on the road directly in front of you. It’s literally a straight line, just with the inconvenience of a circle trying to block the way. The second round-a-bout will be in St. Elizabeth, at which point you will exit on the second left and head towards Santa Cruz.
Once in St. Elizabeth, continue to drive towards Santa Cruz, passing the entrance for the Jamaica Zoo on your left hand side. A little further on your right, you are looking out for a sign at a gas station that directs you to the Accompong Maroon Village. You should also see an arrow directing you to the Appleton Rum Experience at the same place. Turn right there. Do not stop. Do not pass go. Just make the right there and follow the road until you see the sign to the entrance of the JPSco hydroelectricity power plant on the right. Once there, turn onto the road as if heading towards the power plant until you reach the company’s gated entrance. Look to your left and you will see the gate to enter the Breadnut Valley Estate. Drive in through the gate and enter into the open clearing and find parking. You’re here!!!!
THE BREADNUT VALLEY ESTATE
Originally operating as a sugar estate in the 1700s and 1800s, the Breadnut Valley Estate is now a privately owned and operated business that offers a venue for events such as weddings and parties. With a gorgeous backdrop to supplement an already special event, Breadnut Valley appears to be a local hotspot for their events. As was the case on this faithful day that we arrived and noted they were setting up for a wedding reception. The venue is also equipped with a picnic table and a few benches which suggests that day tripping and group outings are highly encouraged there. There is also a bathroom on site which is clean and fully functional.
Because the wedding reception was slated to begin soon, we had to park a little over to the side and venture off to the further pools and waterfalls rather than stay at the lowest fall and pool that was regarded as the safest for the non and inexperienced swimmers.
I don’t believe there are tour guides allotted to the place. But we were fortunate enough to run into one of the property’s workers and he acted as our guide for the day. This turned out to be a true lifesaver in more ways than one. I will tell you more about this a little later.
A HIKE, A FALL AND BREATHTAKING VIEWS
One of my all time favourite girl groups, TLC, famously sang ‘Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to’ But I think they would definitely agree with me chasing this beauty. As mentioned before, because there was a wedding reception about to start, we had to make a small trek to the further pools. Surprisingly, the hike wasn’t too arduous. Especially for the not so fit and the a bit ill-prepared like myself. You see, the silly rabbit that I am, I left my sneakers at home and wore strappy sandals. Face palm! But in my defense I had only planned to visit only the first fall and had no real intention of hiking further eek. So it was a total slip of the mind.
However, like I was saying before, the hike to the further waterfalls was rather simple. It was a little slippery so I slid a little, slipped a few and got a wee bit dirty. The path was pretty well-defined and pretty straightforward so we could identify the way to go. The journey starts with a single pathway incline that eventually leads to 3-way path divide. Oh decisions decisions. As we didn’t know which way to go, we opted to go straight. This was the wrong way. Luckily, the aforementioned employee saw us heading the wrong direction and quickly rerouted us onto the right path. Just so you know, you should take the path on the right. Surrounded by lush foliage, the hike itself was rather beautiful to behold. It’s easy to get lost in nature when you try to take it all in.
Guided by the rush of the water flowing by and with the help of our newly enlisted guide, we eventually made it to the first waterfall. Well actually second waterfall. The picturesque waterfall is a little hidden by the trees that surrounds it. After making the trek upwards, there is slight decline towards this waterfall in order to fully witness its true beauty. A beautiful waterfall that cascades into a stunning blue pool. I’ve heard a few experienced swimmers and divers take dips into the pool, but as we were pretty high up and there wasn’t really a defined jumping area, we opted to not test the good Lord’s love for us that day. Instead, we stopped and had our own mini-photo shoot.
AN UNMARRED AND TRANQUIL ESCAPE
Once we finished our photography session, the next part of our journey was to continue on to the river and lower falls. The river is the perfect place of zen and tranquility to swim, relax and let the breath of nature breathe against your skin. This river leads into another waterfall a little further in the distance. Fortunately the flow of the river is not extremely high so you can swim assured that you won’t be pushed over the waterfall.
At this point in the journey we opted to stop and settle along the bed of the river to enjoy the view and take a dip. Remember I told you I was ill-prepared for this trip? Well my shoes weren’t the only thing that I didn’t bring. I also left my swimwear at home. Eek! You’d think I didn’t know I was going to a waterfall right?! So while my well-prepared companions took a dip, I operated as photographer and tried to capture as much of the scene as possibly. However, I was also determined not to be left out, so I decided to roll up my pant legs and dip my toes in the water nonetheless. The sand was soft and the water felt cool and refreshing against my toes. Just to note is that the sand does sink a bit quickly so it’s best to move around.
In the distance, we could also see the furthest waterfall a yonder. It was captivating and enticing to the eyes. This blue lure kept calling our names and so guided by our new travel companion, we decided to make the walk further into the distance to get front row seats to the bluest of them all. But first we had to cross the river.
A LITTLE BIT OF A TUMBLE
Close to the edge of the waterfall were a bed of flattened and submerged rocks, sculpted by the constant force of the water to line up as a guided pathway across the river. It was here we were meant to cross to the other side and venture off to the waterfall in the distance. Our guide went first to help us cross the river.
Remember I told you I had no intentions of swimming that day and rather just wanted to dip my toes in? Remember that I left my swimsuit at home? Well apparently Mother Nature never got the memo and had other plans for me that day. With my very first step I slipped and fell completely into the water fully clothed with phone in pocket and all. Furthermore, I fell near the edge of the waterfall. I could feel the intensity of the rushing water pushing me towards the edge of the waterfall, willing me to go over. Luckily, my guide was there and he grabbed me and pulled me towards the rocks and helped me out of the water. I was drenched from head to toe.
A TRUE HIDDEN BEAUTY
Once we finally made it across the river; we were then led from the water into the truly untouched part of the estate. Surrounded by lush foliage on each side; all different hues of green. Sprawling leafy branches and ferns jutting out from all directions. No clear or defined pathway to the falls. We were walking through the truly untamed countryside to get to the other falls. My advice is that it’s best to go with someone familiar with area that helps to navigate the terrain.
After an approximately 10-15 minutes walk, we finally made it to the mysterious, hidden waterfall. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. It was a true hidden treasure. Another mesmerizing waterfall that flows and merges into a serene turquoise pool.
The water was calm and still which to the inexperienced adventurer would seem perfect for swimming. But our guide warned us against it; stating it was the deepest of them all and due to the stillness and underlying current of the water, it’s easy to get trapped there. So we opted to just linger close to the edge and take pictures instead.
Overall, it was a day well spent submerged in nature and surrounded by amazing people. Days like these remind me how spectacular this island of Jamaica truly is. It was an absolutely incredible experience at Breadnut Valley Falls. I can’t wait to venture there again.