It may be hard to believe it, but Ocho Rios was once little more than a sleepy Jamaican fishing town. Though that image is at odds with the tourist hotspot it has become, there’s still more charm and serenity in the town than you might expect. Yes, the list of things to do in Ocho Rios includes the typical beaches and tourist fare, but with a history that includes pirates, waterfalls, spies, and reggae legends, this Jamaican town quickly proves that it’s anything but ordinary.
Cruise Ships vs. Resorts
Before you actually set foot in Ocho Rios, however, it’s best to decide how you’d like to visit. The Jamaican port town is quite popular with many major cruise lines, all of which allow guests to go into town for the day as they make port. Some of these ships offer pre-planned shore itineraries that are worth looking into, but you can also tour with a local agency if you so choose (Note: due to safety concerns, self-guided tours are not recommended). A cruise ship stopover will allow you to see at least a few of the major highlights here and combine them with fun experiences elsewhere in the Caribbean.
If you really want to dig into this beautiful area, however, you’re better off booking a resort. There are many respectable options here, including the famous Jamaica Inn, which has played host to the likes of Marilyn Monroe, among others. Other contenders include Moon Palace Jamaica and the adults-only Sandals Royal Plantation. While non-resort accommodations are available, resorts come strongly recommended for their all-inclusive service and the invaluable ability to arrange attraction tours through them. That is, of course, only if you want to leave the resort in the first place!
Just beyond its borders, Ocho Rios gives way to stunning Caribbean environments and not-so hidden gems. The stand out attractions here are the city’s dozens of cascading waterfalls, with the most famous – Dunn’s River Falls – topping countless itineraries. It’s not hard to see why. Dunn’s River Falls features a unique, terraced structure that makes it ideal for climbing. If ever you’ve ever dreamed of scaling a waterfall, this is the place to do it.
Dunn’s River Falls is not the only area with a waterfall worth visiting here. The Blue Hole, a series of jungle pools connected by falls, is a more secluded attraction that is steadily growing in popularity. The area is great for a swim or as a place to beat the crowds, at least for now. For a more serene alternative to either of these two major attractions, check out Turtle River Falls and Gardens, home to gentler waters and plenty of hammocks.
Ocho Rios’ natural beauty stretches far beyond its wondrous waterfalls, however. When planning your excursions, keep an eye out for names such as Dolphin Cove and Green Grotto Caves. Of course, classic activities such as tubing, snorkeling, and simply hitting the beach are still more great ways to enjoy the natural splendor Ocho Rios has to offer.
Music and Culture
Throughout its history, Ocho Rios has had more than its fair share of excitement. From pirates such as Henry Morgan to more modern legends like the great Bob Marley, dozens of famous individuals have left their legacies in the area – legacies that you can visit today. Only a quick drive away from Ocho Rios, Nine Mile village is famous as the birthplace of Bob Marley. Tours here will take you through town to see museums and other sites from the reggae wailer’s life, as well as his mausoleum.
Another famous birthplace awaits you closer to town: GoldenEye. The one-time home and writing retreat of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, GoldenEye now serves as a resort and hotel. The hotel has expanded upon the original grounds significantly, though you do have the opportunity to stay in Fleming’s actual residence, should you be willing to shell out the cash. Nearby stands Firefly, the Jamaican retreat of Fleming’s friend and playwright Sir Noel Coward. This residence stands today as a museum that offers both fascinating history and stellar views of the island coastline.
Header photo by neufal54 on Pixabay