Ocho Rios, Jamaica - Ocho Rios travel guide
Ocho Rios is another popular city for visitors. Not quite as crowded as Montego Bay but pretty close. Some feel that the beaches are prettier and the water is clearer here. There are definitely better reefs for snorkelers. It was planned as a tourist community in the 1960's and has definitely developed into one. Some of the nicest all inclusive resorts are located in and around the city.
Ocho Rios (eight rivers) affectionately known as Ochi is located on the north coast of Jamaica and up until twenty years ago was just a small sleepy fishing village. Then came the vast investment and in what seemed like no time Ocho Rios became one of the leading tourist destinations in the Caribbean. One of the keys to the success of Ocho Rios was the installation of a deep water pier that can accommodate 3 cruise ships comfortably filling the streets and market squares of Ocho Rios on a daily basis.
Away from the town and the luxury hotels Ocho Rios also plays host to some of the most beautiful natural wonders on the island. The cascading waterfalls of Downsriver falls and Eden falls will take your breath away and the tropical paradise of Fern Gully goes far beyond any botanical gardens.
Ocho Rios Things to See
There are several attractions to see. One not to miss view is from Shaw Park Gardens above town. From here you get a bird's eye view of the city and of the turquoise Caribbean. After taking your snapshots there you can stroll through the gardens and admire the old bouganvillas and other plants. One lovely old specimen is a seventy year old banyan tree whose aerial roots have dropped to the ground and formed trunks of their own.
The Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios are probably the most famous attraction in Jamaica. A few miles west of the city, you can reach the top starting from a sandy beach and climbing against the current for about 200 metres.
An excursion to the White River would be really good fun; there you can hire bamboo rafts for a brief river outing and enjoy lobster at the Jungle Lobster Hut, a poor hut where you can eat lobster on the river and some of the best food in the area.
A visit to the Prospect Plantation, situated east of the city, a working plantation of 11000 acres overlooking the ocean and the White River Gorge, is a good opportunity to learn about local plantation with a spectacular tour of the grounds. The plantation also organizes excursions on horseback to the White River Gorge.
Take a drive down the Fern Gully, a 3-mile drive along the A3 motorway in the direction of Spanish Town within a green forest. The stretch of road is covered by many different types of ferns that cross over at the top forming a vault effect over the road lined with stalls selling arts and crafts objects.
Jamaica’s northern coast is a long sandy stretch with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Apart from those reserved by the hotels, Ocho Rios Bay Beach and Fisherman’s Beach are the most popular beaches in Ocho Rios itself. The beaches of Mammee, Roxborough and Alterry are along the coast to St. Ann’s Bay and Murdock’s Beach is a great place to stop for a swim on the way to Orcabessa, a small town with some lovely hidden beaches.
Ocho Rios Beaches
The two most popular beaches in Ochos Rios are Fisherman’s Beach and Ocho Rios Bay Beach, better known as Turtle Beach. The first is public and free to access, but facilities are not excellent, the second is privately run therefore you need to buy a ticket to get in. The beach is kept clean and has facilities such as water sports, bars and food kiosks. Mallard Beach is another popular spot with plenty of food and fun activities. The famous James Bond Beach, home to the Golden Eye Hotel, which was the former residence of James Bond writer Ian Fleming, belongs to the hotel, but non-guests can enjoy the sand for a small fee. Water sports rentals and other facilities are available.Dunn's River Beach is located under the famous Dunn's River Waterfalls, where the Dunn's River meets the Caribbean Sea offering a fantastic sight of two tones of blue in the water.
Once accompanying the gardens was the Shaw Park hotel. It has long since closed and been resurrected into the Shaw Park Beach Hotel down by the water. This hotel still retains a more European feel and is better for those trying to get away from that. The suites here are pricey but very nice with two bedrooms, a small kitchen, two baths, a living area, and a patio on the beach. Breakfast is included with suites. The regular rooms are quite nice too. Pleasant but not false Caribbean decor and a small patio come with most.
A great place to eat in town is the Jerk Centre. If you don't mind eating off a paper plate outdoors its is an ideal establishment to get a sampling of a famous Jamaican specialty. For more upper class cuisine The Almond Tree is nice and is well known for its presentation oriented dishes. A bit expensive for what it is though. There is a Burger King in town for the homesick. Just across the street from the home of the whopper is a craft market. Bring your best haggling skills.
The most fun excursion in Ocho Rios is Dunns River Falls where you can climb them for a fee. A beautiful drive is Fern Gully which is a sunken road that is home to hundreds of species of ferns. A note about Fern Gully: don't buy souvenirs from vendors here. They are unwittingly damaging this ecotreasure and need to be encouraged to move.
Ocho Rios Food & Drink
Jungle Lobster Hut,
by the White River Bridge
Enjoy lobster on the beach in true Jamaican atmosphere.
Ocho Rios Village Jerk Centre,
Da Costa drive
This open-air eatery offers Jamaican jerk dishes; try the pork, chicken or fish.
Tel. +1 876 974-2549
83 Main St.
One of the most popular restaurants in Ocho Rios, the Almond Tree serves Jamaican and Continental dishes. Dinner reservations are welcome.
Tel. +1 876 974-2813
The Enchanted Garden, Eden Bower Road
This is an elegant Asian restaurant serving Thai, Japanese, Indonesian and Chinese cuisine.
Tel. +1 876 974-1400
Da Costa Drive
This restaurant sits next to a 12 metre high waterfall and offers a diverse menu with oriental choices, continental and Jamaican food.
Tel. +1 876-974-2442
Palm Beach Restaurant,
Ocean Village Shopping Centre on Main Street
This restaurants serves good fish dishes. Jamaican and French cuisine.
Tel. +1 876 974-5008
Evita’s, Mantalent Inn,
Eden Bower Road
Italian restaurant situated on Columbus Heights west of the city. Great Italian food with fabulous views over the city and the ocean.
Tel. +1 876-974-2333
Getting Around - Ocho Rios Transport
Taxis are the most popular method of transportation for tourists. You can find one at any hotel, the airports and in most shopping areas. If you need to call for a taxi, contact the official carrier: Jamaica Union of Travelers Association or JUTA (876-974-2292 in Ocho Rios).
Taxi rates vary, but the charge is by car, not by the number of passengers. If you accept a driver’s offer of his services as a tour guide, be sure to agree on a price before the vehicle is put into gear.
Slow, crowded buses (often minibuses) will stop anywhere along the route to pick up passengers. To catch one, stand by the side of the road with your arm outstretched.
Buses and coasters, run between Montego Bay or Kingston and every point on the island. Buses arrive and depart from each town's transportation station, which is usually near the main market.
Need to find a place to stay while you are in Ocho Rios? Thanks to the Jamaican Tourist Board Online Site you can find one. These guys are great. They've compiled a constantly updating list of the Hotels, All Inclusives, Guest Houses, and Apartment Resorts for most of the hotspots in Jamaica.
The official visitors guide to Ocho Rios: http://www.visitjamaica.com/where-to-visit/ocho-rios.aspx