Ocho Rios, the Spanish translation for “Eight Rivers”, has always been a major town for visitors to the island. Located in St. Ann on the north coast of Jamaica, Ocho Rios is abuzz with activities on land, river, and sea.
Watersports in Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios is also a mecca for all kinds of incredible watersports. Enthusiasts will find themselves with a head-spinning flurry of options.
Sun Star Watersports Jamaica is one of Jamaica’s finest making for an amazing time whether its water-sports or other exhilarating activities in the island’s gorgeous turquoise waters. They have a plethora of things to do: Angling, Deep Water Fishing, Jet Ski, Snorkeling on the Reef, Parasailing, Windsurfing, Scuba Diving, Banana-Boat Rides, and Kayaking.
Jetpack Adventures combines the latest tech with marine entertainment. Your water-driven jetpack will send you and your heart soaring. Training by a certified instructor, use of safety equipment, a lifeguard and activity insurance are included. This trip is sure to be amazing!
Jewel Lagoon Water Park in Runaway Bay, offers a day of swimming and excitement. With myriad attractions for kids of all ages, this water park is the ideal spot to create irreplaceable memories on vacation. The cost of entry includes access to the waterpark and food and drinks all day. This is sure to be fun for the entire family.
Beaches in Ocho Rios
Some of the best beaches in Jamaica are located in Ocho Rios; from untouched private spots to beaches filled with activity. There is literally a beach for everyone in ‘Ochi’.
Be sure to check out our post on the to 5 best beaches in Ocho Rios.
Ocho Rios Bay Beach, also known as “Turtle Beach” is conveniently located between Sunset Jamaica Grande to the east and the Cruise Ship pier to the west. Its elegant white sand, azure waters and fascinating panorama views of the Caribbean Sea are accompanied by other amenities such as motor water sports, tuck shop and picnic amenities.
Bamboo Beach is definitely one of the most alluring beaches in the Caribbean. Expansive almond and palm trees shade the seashore creating cozy areas of intimacy all the way down the mile-long stretch of beach. Soak up the shimmering rays or place a chair right into the cool waters for an invigorating indulgence. Bamboo Beach also presents one of the most distinctive cultural immersions on the island. Jamaican dance performers, reggae instrumentalists, vocalists, and tumblers adorned in vibrant outfits, entertain guests throughout the day with pulsating shows and songs. Enjoy delicious meals and inventive drink mixes served with flair.
Located just a short journey from the commotion of Ocho Rios, James Bond Beach is really three separate spectacular beaches in one. All of these beaches offer panoramic views of the enchanting Caribbean sea against a breathtaking backdrop of emerald mountains. The seafood is so fresh you get to select your meal before you eat it. If you are in search of some thrills James Bond Beach also provides guided wave runner excursions. The tour allows you to view the famed Goldeneye, the place where author Ian Fleming wrote the now world-renowned novels detailing adventures of 007 (James Bond). The scenery on this tour is unmatched.
Margaritaville Ocho Rios is a distinctive beachfront club owned by American country music singer Jimmy Buffet. In the daytime, the prevailing mood is laid back, with patrons having a delightful lunch on the beach or a tropical cocktail in the sun. Margaritaville is an iconic beachside experience and is a definite highlight of any trip to Ocho Rios.
Pleasure Cove Beach, located next door to Couples San Souci in Ocho Rios, beckons you to have a tropical cocktail. Enjoy great local fare while soaking in the sunrays. It’s a picturesque white sand beach, and the water is fairly shallow and calm so it’s great for children and novice swimmers. There are also a few loungers and an almond tree that’s perfect for shade. Pleasure Cove has no entry fee and the bistro and drinking hole offer free Wi-Fi and delicious freshly caught, then expertly seasoned escoveitch fish. This beach is a really awesome option as a place to spend a day in the sun.
Bamboo Blu in Mammee Bay is a beachfront restaurant with its own private beach. Enjoy the view of the wonderful Caribbean waters, while immersing yourself in a warm and sunny, yet breezy location.
Their unique menu offers delectable seafood, sandwiches, pasta, a locally adapted Bruschetta and much more.
River Activities in Ocho Rios
With a name like Ocho Rios (Eight Rivers) there should be no doubt that this town and its surrounding environs is “The” place for Tropical River-related activities in Jamaica.
Blue Hole: Nestled in the mountains above Ocho Rios, The Blue Hole is a distinctly thrilling experience. With no vendors to haggle with, no lines to join, and all at an economical rate, you’re left to partake in the rustic enchantment of the towering waterfall and the refreshing lagoons.
Dunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s real gems. Globally, it is as famous as the Jamaican culture. Dunn’s River really lives up to the Taino word “Xayamaca” meaning land of rivers and springs. Form a chain of people to climb the falls led by veteran falls guides. The tumbling falls possess soothing effects and you can even get a massage from the flow.
Sun bathers can bask in the glistening rays while sticking their toes in the fine sand and listening to the lapping of the rolling Caribbean Sea. For nature lovers you can explore the lush flora and fauna of the park. If you are in search of precious mementos the shops in the craft area are ideal, you can even custom request your own souvenir. The Canteen offers a range of delectable dishes so you don’t have to worry about lunch. You can also bring your own meal and take advantage of the several grills available.
Calypso Rafting (White River) has been around since the 1980’s. Over time it developed, adding various Watersport activities that have entertained thousands. White River is located just a few minutes away from the center of town. Surrounding resorts are at most thirty minutes away from the location. Calypso Rafting offers a shuttle to and from the attraction from these resorts. Calypso also operates vessels for deep water fishing and Jet Skiing is also an option.
Located in the emerald hills of St. Ann overlooking Ocho Rios, Konoko Falls is one of the island’s well-kept secrets. You can spend the day touring the enchanting property or you can take a guided tour of the park with a veteran guide.
Enjoy the River Gardens, and get a short history of the Taino Indians who once inhabited the island. You will also be introduced to a variety of local species and be lead on the guided waterfall climb. Konoko Falls is a unique venue for all kinds of events- Fun Days, Family Outings, Church & Community Retreats, School Expeditions and Special Events.
Amusement Parks in Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios’ spectacular natural environment also forms the backdrop for some of Jamaica’s most iconic amusement parks and attractions.
At Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios, you can enjoy expeditions on the Rainforest Trail, where you will see many different species of creatures, plants and trees. Dolphin Cove is truly an incredible natural experience.
Wata Land Eco Fun Park is a recent addition to the White River Valley Area. The park offers a three acre aquamarine beach lake with a 5,000 square ft. floating aqua-park. The aqua-park has slides and tracks along with other elaborate slides into the lake. Kayaking and inflatable sailing are also available. The little ones are not excluded as they have a kid’s water play area with its own slides along with a splash pad. Enjoy the area they call the ‘Rivva’ Side, sit by the White River under the tree cover or in the lovely gazebos and bond with your natural surroundings. The river side eatery offers an overwhelming variety of delicious meals in this area. The central building houses the famous Hurricane tavern and restaurant that offers expertly prepared dishes on a veranda overlooking the area.
Firewater Mineral Healing Spring (St. Ann’s Bay)- The Windsor Mineral Spring (locally known as “Fire Water”) is a small pool of water with strange properties. The pools of water can catch fire. This marvel is probably due to high levels of sulfur in the water.
Fire massages are offered, and the high concentration of minerals in the water is said to have healing effects. The locals will also demonstrate how they cook on the flames of the fire water.
Tours/Attractions in Ocho Rios
Mystic Mountain a must see in terms of tropical amusement parks. At Mystic Mountain you will take a jungle adventure tour up to the 700ft mystic mountain peak. This environmentally conscious attraction, situated but 5 minutes away from the cruise ship pier offers a unique array of excursions for all ages.
Mystic Mountain offers three unique and exhilarating excursions:
- Sky Explorer: The Rainforest Sky Explorer is a modern gondola lift that elevates guests 700 feet above the treetops to the pinnacle of Mystic Mountain. The following descent transports you through the heart of the rainforest canopy.
- Bobsled Jamaica: The park’s main attraction, the Rainforest Bobsled, reminiscent of the movie “Cool Runnings”, features a 1000m ride through the jungle. The Bobsled is an exciting jaunt through beautiful tropical landscapes and enchanting coastal features.
- Zip-line: The safety-first Zip Line whisks travelers through the verdant rainforest canopy, gliding from one platform to another. All of these rainforest excursions are action-packed, nature-oriented and will give you memories that will last a lifetime.
Ocho Rios ATV Safari is an ATV expedition through the hills. Tear up the dirt as your all-terrain vehicle transports you along the mostly off-road trail through tropical rainforests and two of the island’s longest standing plantations, Richmond and Llandovery. Witness incredible scenery and glean some local lore and view the fascinating horticulture, then journey to a reclusive bay where you can dive off rocks into the refreshing sea below.
Zion Bus Tour– Using a re-tooled old ‘Jolly’/ Country Bus, the ‘Zion Bus Line’, offers a unique unique expedition from Ocho Rios, through Claremont, to the birth and final resting place of Reggae Legend, Bob Marley. The bus ride is a visually stunning tour of rural St. Ann. Enjoy Bob’s greatest songs as your ‘Rasta’ driver traverses slender meandering rural paths to the hill community of Nine Miles. Soak in the ambiance with a Rum Punch hear and fascinating stories of Bob’s youth in the hills of St. Ann
Ocho Rios Highlights Tour is a unique blend of all the fun things to do in this great town. This excursion consists of a trip to Fern Gully, Spice Mountain and rolling tours through the Local Village and Shaw Park look out. Every one of these stops are visually awe-inspiring. Shaw Park look out overlooks the town of Ocho Rios so you will enjoy a bird’s eye view of the entire area. This excursion allows you to witness the day-to-day activities of the locals. The tour ends with some great gift and souvenir shopping in Ocho Rios.
The Green Grotto Caves are some of the island’s most prominent natural wonders. Located on 25.9 hectares land between the tourism centers of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. The real draw of this natural attraction is the immense limestone cavern with its countless rock features.
Green Grotto itself is 1525m long and 12m deep and is characterized by various chambers and an underground waterhole called Grotto Lake. Join an expedition through the caves and enjoy the many sights. This is an adventure you will definitely not want to miss.
Museums/Historic Attractions in Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios has no limit when it comes to its rich history and culture. It is therefore only fitting that this would be the place for great museums and art galleries:
The Bob Marley Museum Tour in Nine Miles has to be one of the most interesting museum excursions on planet earth. The Museum is actually is the former home of Reggae’s King. A home filled with history and treasures from his life. The Museum promises to envelop you in the sights and sounds of Bob. As you take a guided tour of this Jamaican Heritage site, the jovial and experienced guides will escort you through. From the Main House, Exhibition Hall, Theatre, to the Souvenir Shop and Snack bar. All the rooms have been maintained in their original form to preserve the authentic feel. If you have ‘One Love’ in your heart for this great singer this tour will stand out and is a bucket list experience.
Harmony Hall Art Gallery, situated just four miles east of Ocho Rios, Harmony Hall was bought in 1980 by Annabella Proudlock. She created the gallery to inspire distinction in, and expand the visitor’s grasp of Jamaican art. It has grown to prominence, over time, and has been acclaimed globally.
Brimmer Hall Estate is a functioning farm estate, with a Plantation House and a Souvenir Shop. Patrons receive an enlightening tour of the Great House, given details of the crops produced (sugar cane, coconut, banana, and cocoa). Located in the rolling hills, just outside the momentous town of Port Maria (the capital of St Mary), this 1800s plantation is ideal for a day trip. The Plantation Tour Eating House serves up local fare for lunch, and there’s a gift shop with ceramics, art, straw goods, woodcarvings, rums, liqueurs, and cigars. Patrons are driven in a tractor–drawn wagon to view tropical fruit trees and coffee plants.
Ocho Rios Nightlife
The nightlife in Ocho Rios is particularly vibrant and has a little bit of everything. From exciting clubs to sports bars and outdoor entertainment, there is no place quite like “Ochi” when it comes to night activities:
Margaritaville is a great place to have refreshments and be entertained or even have a delicious couples dinner. It’s conveniently located near most of the major hotels in Ocho Rios and delivers spectacular entertainment for all at a practical cost.
Amnesia – For years Amnesia has been one of those renowned clubs maintaining the energy in Ocho Rios, visit on any given night and party with locals and visitors from all over the world. If you’re a music lover this is a must visit.
Gen-x Sports bar and Nightclub is the most lively spot in Ocho Rios. If you’re looking for a night out to party with the locals in a high energy environment, you should definitely check out this spot.
Oceans 11 – as the name suggests, this oceanfront, open-air, club is as exhilarating as any action in the Hollywood film. Ocean’s presents a promotional night for every weekday:
- Monday is Jamaica Night
- Tuesday is a wild Karaoke Night
- Wednesday is a thrilling Games Night
- Thursday is the cozy Dinner & A Movie night
- Friday is the relaxing Corporate Chill
- Saturday is the delectable Seafood Saturdays
- Sunday’s offer Live Band & Cabaret
Visitors can pick their night and that ensures that everyone is on the same page in terms of having fun. Oceans 11 is as much of a must-see as the film that it shares a name with.
Food & Drinks in Ocho Rios
No visit to Jamaica would be complete without sampling some of its world famous cuisines. Ocho Rios is practically brimming with great restaurants:
The John Crow Tavern is an open-concept restaurant and bar which is located conveniently on the main road, which makes it ideal for people-watching while you eat or have a drink. There are cozy tables on the patio and ample seats available at the bar. Sporting events are continuously on display on the television screens behind the bar, and Jamaican music is almost always played after dark.
Scallywags Restaurant & Bar – Located just across the road from the entrance to RIU scallywags offers pleasant service, delicious Jamaican cuisine, and a lovely open-air zone where you can be seated and soak in the cool air.
Ocean’s 11 Seafood Restaurant – Visit and gorge on a wide variety of local dishes from specialty seafood to Jerk chicken, fish or pork, as well as the most exotic selection of mixed drinks ever. Enjoy it all while taking in the breathtaking view over the azure waters. Ocean’s 11 possesses an ambiance of elegance on the beach that makes life seem so free. You can either be seated downstairs, on soft yet antique sugar-barrels converted into chairs, or you can keep rocking away to live performances.
Margaritaville – If you’re seeking a burger on the island and blended refreshments, you need to visit Margaritaville Ocho Rios. Part of the famous franchise, this eatery is patronized mostly by cruise-ship tourists because of its proximity to the pier. Local dishes with a twist characterize the menu. You must have one of the Margaritas, which come in tropical flavors (mango, lime, strawberry).
Mongoose Jamaica Restaurant and Lounge is a lively eatery and bar that has efficient service and heart-warming meal experiences. If you yearn for Jamaican, definitely try the stews (especially the oxtail), or you can dine on incredibly delicious burgers, grilled seafood, pizzas etc.
Miss T’s Kitchen – Located on a tranquil side-road off Main Street, Miss T’s Kitchen serves authentic, Jamaican meals. Using only seasonal elements from local farmers, Miss T employs tropical spices to create savory flavors.
Almond Tree Restaurant is a foodie’s paradise. This open-air restaurant serves delicious Jamaican and continental food. Relax and take in the view, or have a drink at their ‘Swinging Bar’ while you await your meal, prepared by their master chef in true gourmet style.
Usain Bolts Tracks & Records Ocho Rios – UBTR’s newest venue offers an excellent casual dining and sports lounge experience. UBTR provides a fusion menu and promises to deliver an immersive experience with all four senses stimulated. Sports fans will enjoy the visuals of the fastest man and brand Jamaica that adorn the entire location.
Scotchies Ocho Rios Jerk center is the place to go if you are looking for some real Jamaican Jerk- whether Pork, Chicken or Fish. Its usually busy so be prepared for a lineup; however, it’s an unforgettable Jamaican food experience. Roast breadfruit, Festival, Bammy, mm…mm… it’s all there.
The Ruins – Lunch here is a tasty buffet with a widely varying menu of delights. The Entrée is homemade soup, freshly baked bread, and delectable salads. The second course can either be fresh fish or scrumptious Jamaican jerk chicken. Desserts are prepared with island flair and are to die for.
Evita’s Italian Restaurant – Enjoy fine dining within the immersive ambiance of a real 18th century ‘Gingerbread house’. Have a lovely lunch or dinner inside or in the open air on the deck overlooking the cruise ship pier. The menu is distinctly Northern Italian food, but with many innovative Jam-Italian fusion meals.
Toscanini’s is a much acclaimed authentic Italian restaurant situated just four miles east of Ocho Rios. The Georgian-Style Great House, aptly named “Harmony Hall” is the perfect venue for this harmonious blend of Italian and Jamaican culture. The menu is distinctly Italian/Mediterranean culinary and has thrilled patrons for over twelve years. Toscanini’s has managed to somehow keep the menu and ambiance close to their Italian roots but also fuse in exotic spices of the finest fresh tropical elements.
For more fun things to do, check out our post on the top 8 things to do in Ocho Rios.