Overview | What to Do | Other Attractions | Get Around | Eat & Drink | Stay in Touch | Shopping
Ocho Rios (often referred to as "Ochie" by the locals) offers a combination of beautiful beaches and excellent duty-free shopping. Jamaica is a beautiful island with much to see and do. Be aware, however, that the vendors can be particularly aggressive - drugs and prostitution are also a problem and should be avoided at all costs. Haggling is expected on everything from taxi rides to souvenirs. Cruise ships dock in Freeport, which is walking distance from the town center.
English is the "official" language of Jamaica, but it has a very melodic, rhythmic quality. Some people also speak "Patois," which is a mix of English and some African languages. The Jamaican Dollar (JMD) is the official currency. Jamaican law requires that Jamaican Dollars are used for all goods and services. However, US Dollars are accepted just about everywhere for purchases and guests can also receive change in US Dollars as well. Credit cards are also widely accepted (Visa & MasterCard only), just be aware that you will not receive a favorable exchange rate when using credit cards.
There is a visitor's information kiosk at the cruise terminal where guests can receive brochures, rates and information on all attractions in Ocho Rios. We’ve listed some of our personal favorites below:
Dunn's River Falls
Dunn's River Falls, accessible by shuttle from the port area, is one of the most famous waterfalls in the Caribbean. Climb the falls in a human chain led by experienced tour guides. Pause at the "Massage Parlor" and experience the soothing effects of the water as it cascades to the sea. Don't forget your camera—for a small gratuity, the guides will take as many photos as you want with your camera.
How to Get There: The Falls are a brief five-minute cab ride from the terminal (see map).
Mystic Mountain Ocho Rios
Mystic Mountain Ocho Rios Bobsled Jamaica features a 1000 meter long gravity-drive through the rainforest on custom designed, high-tech sleds. Accessible via the Sky Lift Explorer, the Bobsled is a thrilling ride through dense tropical landscapes and coastal features on sleds that evoke Jamaica's Winter Olympic team. Sky Explorer and zip-line tours are also available. Tickets can be purchased through the Rain Forest Adventure website.
How to Get There: Mystic Mountain is located nearby Dunn’s Falls, a five-minute drive from the terminal (see map).
Chukka Cove offers horseback riding through a dairy and cattle farm to the beach where you will actually ride through the waves! Note: Bring a bathing suit to change into, as they will not allow you to ride back in the saddle with wet clothes on the return trip.
How to Get There: 10 miles away from the dock (see map), Chukka Cove is about a 20 minute car ride away.
Many of the beaches in and around Ocho Rios require an entrance fee, but they are well worth the price! Below are some of the best beaches in the area:
Puerto Seco Beach
Puerto Seco Beach has a very authentic Jamaican feel. There is reggae music playing and local vendors selling food. It is also very close to Columbus Park, which is where Christopher Columbus first set foot on Jamaica. Beach entrance requires a small fee.
How to Get There: Located 21 miles west of the port (see map), it will take about 35 minutes by car.
James Bond Beach
James Bond Beach is, as you might have already guessed, named after the iconic character created by Ian Fleming who has a home near this beach. Jet skis and snorkeling equipment are available for rent.
How to Get There: Located 13 miles and 20 minutes east of Ocho Rios (see map).
Ocho Rios Bay Beach
Ocho Rios Bay Beach, located right in the heart of Ocho Rios, is very popular with cruise passengers because of its location. Ocho Rios Bay Beach is a public beach and attracts people from the surrounding hotels, as well. There is a $3 entrance fee to enjoy this beach. There are a variety of watersports available.
How to Get There: This beach is located directly next to the cruise terminal (see map).
There is no shortage of stunningly beautiful courses near Ocho Rios, but some are a significant drive from the port. Make sure to plan accordingly!
Sandals Golf & Country Club
Sandals Golf & Country Club is a 6,404 yards, 18-hole, par 71 resort style course featuring beautiful views of the see and mountains.
How to Get There: Only two miles east of the port, the Sandals Golf Course is by far the closest and most convenient course (see map).
SuperClubs Golf Course at Runaway Bay
SuperClubs Golf Course at Runaway Bay was designed by Commander John Harris in 1960, Runaway Golf Course is a 6814 yard, par 72, 18-hole championship golf course.
How to Get There: Located at the Breezes Runaway Bay Resort & Golf Club, just 16 miles west of the Ocho Rios port (see map). The drive typically takes around 30 minutes.
The White Witch Course
The White Witch Course is one of the highest rated courses in the Caribbean. The course, which sits on the grounds of what used to be a plantation, is named for the plantation's beautiful but wicked 19th century mistress, Annee Palmer. The White Witch Course is a 6,758-yard, par 71, 18-hole championship course. The course boast a beautiful mountainous terrain and ocean views on 16 of 18 holes.
How to Get There: 53 miles west of the port (see map), The White Witch is at least an hour and fifteen minutes by car.
Cinnamon Hill Golf Course
Cinnamon Hill Golf Course, is a par 71, 18-hole course with mountain and ocean views on almost every hole of the course. The course is also near the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die" was filmed and the waterfall that the immortal poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning "How do I love thee, let me count the ways" was written.
How to Get There: Located 57 miles west of Ocho Rios (see map) in Montego Bay, it's about an hour and twenty minutes by car.
Half Moon Golf Club
How to Get There: Half Moon is 54 miles west of Ocho Rios (see map), and will take a little over an hour and fifteen minutes by car.
Scuba Caribe operates out of the Riu Ocho Rios Resort. They are the largest scuba diving and water sports center in Mexico, and offer snorkeling, windsurfing, sailing and jet skiing in addition to scuba diving.
How to Get There: About five miles away from the port (see map), Scuba Caribe should take about ten minutes by car.
Garfield Diving Station has 30 years of experience in watersports including scuba diving. They also offer deep-sea fishing, jet-ski tours and snorkeling.
How to Get There: Located just to the east of the port on Ocho Rios Bay Beach (see map), this dive shop is conveniently located for cruise passengers.
Prospect Plantation Tours
Prospect Plantation Tours take visitors by tractor-drawn jitney to view fields of bananas, cassava, sugarcane, coffee, allspice and more. If you're feeling adventurous, you can also choose to tour by horseback or camel!
How to Get There: Prospect Plantation is about four miles east of the terminal (see map), and should only take a little over five minutes by cab.
White River Tubing Adventure
The White River Tubing Adventure is a tour by inner tube. This tour will take you through the many tranquil pools and gentle rapids of the White River. Geared towards the young and young at heart, this tour can be a little much for kids that are too young and those a little past their prime.
How to Get There: White River is conveniently located only half a mile from the port (see map), so you can walk there in about ten minutes.
Cranbrook Flower Forest
The Cranbrook Flower Forest offers a popular picnic destination for families. This beautiful garden also offers lovely hiking trails. You will want to budget about an hour to walk from the central gardens to the waterfalls. Bring rubber-sole shoes for walking on the often-wet rocks.
How to Get There: Four minutes east of the port (see map), Cranbrook should take about ten minutes to reach by cab.
Be aware that oncoming traffic will be coming from the opposite direction (on your side of the road) than in the United States. Don't walk alone, particularly after dark.
Buses can be hailed from anywhere along the road, but they tend to be extremely crowded as the driver is paid per person.
Contract Carriage Transportation can be found at the cruise ship port. Their rates are flexible depending on the number of persons (eg. 1-4.) Taxis are expensive in Jamaica, but rates are negotiable with the driver; just make sure to agree on a price before departing.
Look for taxis with red license plate marked "PPV" (Public Passenger Vehicle), which signifies that they are registered to operate as taxis. Look also for taxis displaying the "JTB" sticker on their front window. These stickers signify that they are approved by the Jamaica Tourist Board to operate within tourist industry/resort areas. Using a non-approved taxi can be very dangerous and should absolutely be avoided.
Driving in Jamaica is on the left and the road conditions are quite poor. Many drivers drive in the middle of the road to avoid pot-holes, so be alert!
Below are a few car rental companies available in Ocho Rios:
- Dhana Car Rental, located in the Holiday Village Shopping Area in Ocho Rios, can be contacted at (876) 953-9555.
- Dollar Rent-A-Car, located on Main Street, Ocho Rio, can be contacted at (809) 974-5250.
- Budget Rent-A-Car, located half a mile south east of the port on 15 Millford Rd. (see map), can be contacted at (876) 974-1288.
- Salem Car Rental, located on Main Street, Runaway Bay, can be contacted at (876) 973-4167.
Anything "jerked" will be delicious on Ocho Rios. Jerk is a Jamaican style of cooking where meat is meat is dry rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. Chicken and pork are the most commonly jerked meats. Try the Ocho Rios Village Jerk Centre on DaCosta Drive (see map). It's an open air restaurant where the dishes are spicy, but not too hot. Hot spices are presented on the side for those who want to go truly Jamaican. The barbecue ribs are especially good, and fresh fish is grilled to perfection.
Lobster is another Jamaican specialty, and you can expect it to be prepared with flavorful Jamaican spices. Lobster Dave's by Fisherman's Point is perfect if you are looking for the local "hole in the wall", or in this case "hole in the beach" place to get some of the local fare. Famous for their lobster (go figure), Lobster Dave's not only has delicious food, but gives you that authentic Jamaica feel in a comfortable, laid back atmosphere. It's also walking distance from Ocho Rios Cruise Terminal (see map), which makes it an excellent choice for authentic cuisine.
Red Stripe is a lager-style beer brewed in Jamaica. Enjoy on the beach, river or just about anywhere. The nightlife is Ocho Rios tends to revolve around the resorts, but there are some excellent places that will satisfy your hunger, thirst, and desire for entertainment. The Casanova is among the fancier restaurants in the area, and an all-inclusive package will give you food, drinks and entertainment for the night. It's about 3 miles east of Ocho Rios (see map).
There are Internet cafes at Island Village Plaza, Island Plaza, Brown's Plaza, Ocean Village and some plazas in town. We have listed a few of the internet cafes below:
John Crow's Tavern on Main Street has free WiFi. This cocktail bar and sports lounge is a mile and a half from the port (see map).
The Coffee Shop at the Port has free WiFi.
Internet Jungle, located at 12-24 Turtle Beach Rd (see map), is conveniently located right next to the port.
Jack in the Box Internet Cafe, located at Brown's Plaza on Main St. in Uptown Ocho Rios.
Where to Shop
Ocho Rios Craft Market, located in downtown Ocho Rios, offers locally made baskets, hand-embroidered goods, wood carvings, etc. Note: Be sure to negotiate the price, it is absolutely expected. The market is only a ten-minute walk from the port (see map).
Soni's Plaza, located on Main Street (see map), offers high-end shops with duty free watches, jewelry, perfumes, etc.
The Island Village Shopping Center offers the most unique shop in Ocho Rios - Hemp Heaven. This shop stocks only items made from hemp (which is the fibrous stalk of the cannibus plant), including bags, hats, t-shirts, candles, etc. Sold with a high degree of Jamaican nationalism and good fun. Take a cab to Island Village, as it's about two miles away from the dock (see map).
The Tajmahal and Harbor Shops, located on Main Street which is walking distance from the port, offer a wide array of Duty Free Shopping.
Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, which can be purchased in the shopping area in town or on the tour of the factory, is a sipping rum finely aged in oak barrels. If you are a connoisseur and looking for something really special try the Limited Edition 30 Year Old Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum.
Jamiacan Artand Paintings by local artists and handmade crafts make great souvenirs. Check out the Island Plaza downtown for a good selection.
Fine Jewelry jewelry is always popular when visiting the islands, especially since it's duty free. The Swiss Stores, in the Ocean Village Shopping Centre sells jewelry and all the big names in Swiss watches. The Rolex watches at this stor are real, not like the fakes offered by the hustlers on the street.