You love the beach, but you’re not the kind of person who can lie on a beach for a week and call it a vacation. You want more. More activity, more excitement, more of everything. Ocho Rios is so much more than just a beach vacation. It’s the adventure capital of Jamaica and is just the spot for a vacationer like you.
Known as “Ochi” by locals, Ocho Rios is located on the North Coast of the island. While Ocho Rios literally means “eight rivers” in Spanish, there aren’t eight rivers in the area. The city’s name is likely a British corruption of the original Spanish name for the village, “Las Chorreras”, which translates to “the waterfalls”…a more fitting name for the town. This part of the country features lushly forested mountains sloping down towards small cove beaches. From the airport in Montego Bay, its a leisurely 1 hr and 45 minute drive on the main highway. The city is a popular cruise port and resort destination and offers plenty of shopping opportunities as well as local eateries. Accommodation ranges from large all-inclusive resorts to small boutique luxury hotels and private, fully-staffed villas for rent.
In Ocho Rios, you’ll find some of Jamaica’s top tourist attractions! Bored on the beach? No problem, mon!
Here’s a sample of the active adventures you’ll find:
- Dunn’s River Falls- Probably the most famous tourist attraction in Jamaica..for a good reason. This multi-level waterfall is both picturesque and a fun way to spend a few hours. Adventurers form a human-chain by holding hands as they climb from the bottom of the falls (a beautiful sandy beach) to the top. Guides lead the way, take pictures of your progress, and make stops at key spots on the way up to allow you to enjoy the fall’s unique features, including a small natural water slide!
Mystic Mountain- The Jamaican Bobsled Team was made famous by the movie, Cool Runnings. No trip to Ocho Rios would be complete without a thrilling ride down the Jamaican Bobsled attraction at Mystic Mountain. The bobsled cars are attached to a smooth, gravity-driven rail track..and you control how fast your bobsled zips around the corners. Need more of a thrill? Mystic Mountain also features a zip-lining course and you can access the whole park by taking a scenic chair lift ride up the mountain.
- Blue Mountain- It’s the highest peak in Jamaica and where the world-famous Blue Mountain coffee is grown…and, luckily, it’s not far from Ocho Rios. For a day trip, take a drive up the mountain’s slopes and cruise back down on a bicycle, making stops along the way to cool off in waterfalls and learn about the Jamaican culture. If that’s not enough, schedule a sunrise hike. You’ll sleep in a cabin up high on the mountain and wake up bright and early to ascend to the peak for a gorgeous sunrise. On the clearest days, Cuba can be seen from the top of Blue Mountain.
Dolphin Cove- Have you always dreamed of swimming with a dolphin? Make your dreams come trueat Dolphin Cove. On offer are several options for getting your fins wet, but the top package is the Ultimate Swim where you interact in the water with not one, but two of these friendly marine mammals. After your session (and a few dolphin kisses), enjoy the rest of your day snorkeling with the stingrays, visiting the parrots and reptiles on the informational Jungle Trail, or relaxing at the sandy beach. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT MISS the comical Shark Show, where you just might have a chance to swim with, and feed, the resident nurse sharks. Dolphin Cove also holds a special spot in my heart….it’s where my husband worked with the staff to create a fantastically memorable marriage proposal.
In addition to the ideas above, you can also enjoy horseback (or camel) riding, river tubing, thrilling dune buggy or ATV tours, and deep sea sport fishing. I’ve only just scratched the surface on all the activities that are available within easy reach of Ocho Rios.
Which adventures just made it to your “must do” list?
Next week: Montego Bay!