Ocho Rios, on the northeastern coast of Jamaica, is the ultimate Caribbean beach vacation. Along with the soft, white sands of its beaches, Ochi, as the locals call it offers sophisticated resorts and tourist facilities, and shopping from luxury malls to locals markets full of artisan work and other souvenirs.
There are many beach areas to explore both along Ocho Rios Bay Beach and beyond to Mahogany Beach and many others nearby, including James Bond Beach, set against the picturesque St. Mary mountain range.
From sailing to kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, and much more, you can have as active and adventurous a vacation as you like in an area called the "land of rivers and springs."
You won't be able to escape the tropical vibes of Jamaican music, including reggae and other genres that have taken the world by storm, and sampling at least one live performance at a nightclub is a must on any trip.
Even if you are staying at an all-inclusive resort, it's worth your while to explore beyond its gates to the vibrant restaurant scene in Ocho Rios, including an emphasis on delectable fresh seafood.
This spectacular waterfall near Ocho Rios is a major tourist attraction, a gorgeous spot in the forest where the waters cascade down a mountainside. It includes a park and private beach.
At 1,000 feet high, the Dunn's River Falls is one of Jamaica's hidden jewels. The heights of the falls composed of stacked boulders that lie atop each other like a progressive set of stairs whose formations cause small lagoons that visitors can climb up to and splash around in. The limestone caves surrounding the falls enjoy thermal spring activity and, if you follow those springs far enough, you'll find they empty right into the sea. Tourists can climb, drive up, or choose to remain on the viewing decks and terraces with a picnic lunch and scenic falls views.
The adventure-seeking will love Mystic Mountain, a 700-foot mountain peak with lots of outdoor activities, taking advantage of the lush forest around. Besides the flora, river streams, and memorable views, trip up the Mystic Mountain also features attractions for travelers that include the Sky Explorer - a chair lift with impeccable views, Bobsled Jamaica - a 3,280-foot ride through the rainforest on bobsleds, and a zip-lining activity - whizzing through the canopy from one platform to the next.
The Coyaba River Garden also features a museum and is an indoor/outdoor experience for travelers to take part in. Besides the interesting blend of buildings with Jamaican and Spanish architecture and a beautifully cultivated 3.1 acre garden, there is also the majestic Mahoe Falls and Ysassis Lookout Point that travelers will not want to miss. Check out the Museum of Island History for walk down history's lane, focusing on the early lives of the Taino/Arawak inhabitants and relax afterwords at Blue Mountain Coffee.
Come for the dolphins but stay for the stingrays, sharks and...camels? Yes. Dolphin Cove, as it's called, is known to travelers for offering the opportunity to interact and swim with the beloved dolphins. But this marine attraction on the coast of Ochos Rios is so much more. Here, visitors can pet and ride camels, take a horseback tour of the oasis, enjoy authentic Jamaican cooking classes, walk through the exotic bird aviary, visit a working plantation - just to name a few activities. When you're done for the day, head to the Beach Grill, where sizzling jerk dishes and snacks await you on cusp of the Caribbean.
Get lost in this unspoiled piece of paradise, with lush greenery, beautiful waterfalls, and calm surroundings. These Botanical Gardens are home to many private events such as weddings. Travelers should make sure to pack their swimsuits because you can take a quick dip in the river-water pool at the end of the park before continuing on your way. Once you've made your way to the top and seen Ochos Rios from on high, retire to the small bars on the hillside in the evening.
With its tropical climate, Ocho Rios is a year-round destination, with temperatures that hover between 80 and 90. Many travelers opt to visit during the drier months between May and September.
The nearest international airports are located at Montego Bay and Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica. Transfers are available from a number of private companies, including many resort shuttles.
There are good road connections between Ocho Rios and Kingston, along with many other areas along the north coast.
There are bus connections available to Kingston and Montego Bay, along with some of the smaller towns in the area.
The Hibiscus Lodge Hotel offers contemporary furnishings and a gorgeous beachside location. Moon Palace Jamaica Grande gives you all-inclusive luxury with the finest amenities and modern decor.
Downtown - this area east of the bay is where you'll find the large Ocho Rios Market along with many restaurants and shops.
Fern Gully - this natural area was created when an earthquake destroyed a river bed, leaving a gorgeous area now lush with ferns of all kinds.
Mahogany Beach - just to the east of Ocho Rios Bay, you will find this more secluded beach with a swimming area, bar, and restaurant.
There is limited public and private bus service available in Ocho Rios and throughout the nearby region. Many of the routes offer minibus service that you flag down from the street side, with fares starting at about J$130.
A route taxi can get you around the area in a shared ride. A trip from Ocho Rios to nearby Oracabessa, a small beach town, costs about J$120.
A car is a good option for exploring Ocho Rios and the area. Rentals are available in town, with more options via Kingston or Montego Bay airports, starting at about J$5,650.
Island Village is one of the biggest shopping centers in town, including a pool and other entertainment options. You can find locally produced souvenirs and artisan goods near the entrance to Dunn's River Falls.
Progressive Foods and L & C Supermarket are two of the grocery stores you'll find in Ocho Rios. A quart of milk should cost about J$260, while a dozen eggs should come in at about J$310.
For a wide-ranging menu of Italian, Caribbean, and European specialties, including fresh seafood, try Toscanini Restaurant, with mains starting at J$5,160.