So what are some things to do in Ocho Rios? There are many in this beachin’ destination in the always-dreamy Jamaica. Let’s dive in.
1. All the Waterfalls. “Ocho Rios” means “eight rivers” in Spanish, but it’s most likely named for all the waterfalls in the area. That said, the main mass of falling water to check out is Dunn’s River Falls. The rushing waters cascading at and over you in the heat of Jamaica is amazing, if not necessary. There are few places like it on the planet. Described as a living, growing phenomenon, it continuously regenerates itself from deposits of travertine rocks, the result of precipitation of calcium carbonate from the river, as it flows over the falls. The dome-shaped rocks are usually an indicator that thermal springs are in the limestone caves. This, and the fact that the falls are near the ocean, make it one of a kind in the Caribbean and the world. You can climb on the rocks, which are slippery so be careful, or you can hang out at the bottom and let the steady sound of the water hypnotize you.
2. Non-Touristy Beaches. While Ocho Rios is a cruise ship port, it’s not as bustling as Montego Bay when it comes to beaching. You find some sandy spots to hideaway and get your relaxation on. First up is Turtle Beach, which is the closest from the pier, if you’re on a cruise. The waves are gentle and little schools of fish will be there to greet you. Next up is The Bamboo Beach Club, which is a private, secure beach. The sand is not as sugar-white, but it’s still gorgeous. The water is calm and azure blue. Finally, there’s James Bond Beach. This is about a 20-minute drive outside of Ocho Rios in a town called Oracabessa. It’s known as the former home of the novelist Ian Fleming who wrote “James Bond.” It was his escape haven while he wrote 14 of his famous “007” thrillers. The cove has peaceful, chill waters and you’ll find the locals playing soccer, so if you’re looking to immerse yourself in some true Jamaica culture, this is your place.
3. Crazy Good Shopping. So the place to go is Island Village because it’s both a shopping area and entertainment complex. Yes, there’s a Margaritaville here, too, which is a great place to pause when it’s time to kick back, rest your feet and sip on a cool Red Stripe. But the main draw is all the stuff at competitive prices: gold and gemstone jewelry, Blue Mountain Coffee, Appleton rum and Sangster’s rum cream. Next, head to the Native Market located next to the entrance of Dunn’s River Falls. You’ll be descended upon by the locals, and while you may balk, it really is fun to talk to them about their handiwork, how they make their jewelry, baskets, carvings, paintings, etc. Bargaining is common here so you’ll get great deals. However, the Grand Poobah of duty-free shopping is the Taj Mahal shopping center. Named as such because of the entrance that looks sort of like a mini of the real thing, it’s full of tantalizing local cuisine and shops where you can find all kinds of mind-blowing bargains, as some Beach Lovers report. Yes, the store owners might be overly enthusiastic about their wares, but all you have to do is say “no, thank you” and keep on truckin’. Like we said, Ocho Rios is all about shopping ’til you drop, at which point, you can just grab a drink and chill.
4. Check Out the Cruise Ships. Referred to by the locals as “Ochi,” this sweet sandy spot is between the capital, Kingston and Montego Bay and is a cruise ship port. When you’re here, you can see all these ginormous vessels pull in and out. They are really massive and majestic – they just might inspire you to take a cruise.
When we visited Ocho Rios, the place that blew our beach hair back was the Moon Palace, which was over-the-top gorgeous. The spa’s water journey and ice room were incredible, especially nice after being out on the beach, and the architecture was amazing. We even saw one of the Real Housewives from Atlanta in the lobby.
If you’re itchin’ to go to Ocho Rios, head over and check out some of our Ocho Rios and other Jamaican destinations! If you’re still looking for more info on Jamaica, be sure to check out our post on Negril, Montego Bay, and Jamaica!