Jamaica is known for its lush landscape, reggae music, and warm tropical weather. This island has so much to offer it would be almost impossible to fit it all into one trip. If you area planning your next holiday in Jamaica, consider staying in Ocho Rios.
Ocho Rios which is Spanish for “Eight Rivers” is located in the parish of Saint Ann on the north coast of Jamaica. In the spirit of this town’s name here are Eight things to do in Ocho Rios.
1. Take a Trip to the Falls
One of the highest rated activities to do in Ocho Rios is to drive or boat to Dunn’s River Falls. Number 2 on TripAdvisor in the area this spot will not disappoint. There are at least 2 catamarans in the area that offer a day trip to the falls. Check out Cool Runnings and Chukka to find out which boat is best for your group.
Don’t have your sea legs? No Problem Mon! It is perfectly acceptable to drive or hire a taxi to the falls. The taxis in Jamaica are abundant. There is a small fee of $20USD for adults or $12USD for children to visit Dunn’s River Falls, so keep that in mind when budgeting for your holiday.
You can even walk across the main road where some locals will be waiting to show you where the falls end at a white sandy beach. You can visit the Dunn’s River Falls website to learn about the history of the falls and their impact on the people of Jamaica.
2. Look for Beach Bargains
You can’t visit Jamaica without hitting up the local vendors, and in Jamaica, they are hard to miss. Head out to any street or beach and you will find souvenirs aplenty. Tourism is a big business on the island so shop with a local, drink with the locals and take something local home to your friends and family.
There’s something to say about shopping with the sea breeze blowing and sand between your toes. Most vendors are open to negotiation, so put on your best poker face and be a bargain shopper.
3. Cruise through Fern Gully
Start in Ocho Rios and head south towards the town of Colgate and you will find yourself on a road called “Fern Gully“. You can feel the temperature drop as you make your way through this winding road, once a river, that was destroyed by an earthquake in the early 1900’s. There are hundreds of varieties of ferns lining this lush green landscape. It is truly a sight to see.
If you didn’t get enough bargaining on the beach, this road is full of vendors with wooden sculptures and carvings. Some not so suitable for children’s eyes.
4. Pool Dance
Jamaica is filled with massive resorts lined with coconut trees, beach-goers, and swimming pools. If you go the all-inclusive route you should partake in the daily pool activities. Pool Bingo, water volleyball, kayak races, and afternoon dance parties will keep you occupied for days. I can vouch for the staff at the RIU Ocho Rios, these ladies and gentlemen are there to entertain.
Most also offer scuba diving, snorkeling and other activities on-site so you don’t have to leave the comfort of your resort. If you are into relaxation, some resorts offer spa packages for their guests as well. Kayak, Snorkel, Pool Dance, Spa and repeat!
5. How About the History
Bob Marley put Jamaica on the map for Reggae Music but this 10,900 sq kilometer island has more than just music. Christopher Columbus arrived on the island in 1494. You can visit Columbus Park in Discovery Bay which is just a short ride west of Ocho Rios.
Runaway Bay is a popular scenic area and also a good spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. The Visit Jamaica website talks more about its growing popularity and how history led to its name.
If you are a fan of old churches, you are in luck. Jamaica has many churches dating back to the early 1700’s. St John’s Anglican Church (pictured below) is located in the heart of Ocho Rios and is a popular venue for weddings due to its historical setting.
6. Jerk Pork and Jamaican Patties
Calling all foodies. If you are on a diet in Jamaica you may want to have a cheat week. The food on this island is outstanding. Who needs a fancy restaurant when you can get Jamaican patties and jerk chicken on every corner. Ocho Rios has one of the best Jerk Centers on the island. Scotchies Jerk Center, cleverly named after the scotch bonnet peppers in their jerk sauce will leave your mouth watering for days. The jerk pork is excellent as well. Try both!
Ask your taxi driver to stop for a Jamaican patty or 5 on your way from the airport. Traveling is always better on a full stomach. The fillings for the patties may vary from place to place, but beef, chicken, and fish are always popular choices. There are also vegetarian options. If you are a budget traveler you can live on these for days.
After all of the jerk and patties you will surely need something to wet your whistle. Try a rum and Ting, a Red Stripe, or some rum cream if you have a sweet tooth.
7. Take a Scenic Drive
Hire a car or a taxi, either way, go explore. Jamaica has so much to offer. From the mountains to the rivers and beaches, the scenery is easy on the eyes. If you want to spend a day like a local you can visit one of the many shops along the road for some good conversation and maybe a game of dominos. Jamaicans are friendly and welcoming.
If you are up for some relaxation, kick back on a river raft and explore another side of Ocho Rios. Take in the views from the higher elevations, there is beauty as far as your eye can see. After a drive through the countryside, you can spend the afternoon on Reggae Beach listening to some island tunes or make a visit to Mallards Beach for a smaller, more local feel.
8. Day Trip to Negril
Once you have seen all there is to see in Ocho Rios, head over to Negril for the day. The drive is around 3 hours each way but worth trek. Joe Cool Taxi and Tours offer a customized tour. You can choose the route and make as many stops along the way as you like.
Be sure to jump off the cliffs at Rick’s Cafe (If you Dare!) and make a stop at the Office of Nature in Bloody Bay for the freshest garlic and butter seasoned lobster you have ever tasted. Take a walk on Seven Mile Beach for the sunset, then head back east to Ocho Rios for another serving of Scotchie’s Jerk Pork!