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Ocho Rios Travel Tips: Attractions, Weather, Shopping

Ocho Rios harbor
Ocho Rios harbor. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Ocho Rios visitors will find one of the best destinations for things to do on the island of Jamaica.

The town is one of the most popular cruise ports in Jamaica as well as one of the most popular all-inclusive resort destinations.

It ranks as one of the three most popular resort areas in Jamaica along with Montego Bay on the northwest coast and Negril on the far western tip.

Visitors flock there because of its pristine beaches, mountainous shoreline and garden-like scenery.

Two smaller and quieter resort areas lie just to the west of Ocho Rios. They are Runaway Bay and Discovery Bay. Runaway Bay is nine miles west of town and offers a popular beach.

Attractions

Ocho Rios is a popular port of call for cruise ships in part because of its famous and probably most popular attraction – Dunn’s River Falls.

It is one of the most famous natural attractions in the Caribbean. We had a blast when we went there.

Dunn's River Falls
Dunn’s River Falls is one of the most popular attractions at Ocho Rios. Credit: Depositphotos

Visitors to the falls, which cascade down hillsides more than 600 feet, climb up the rocks and water in the form of a daisy chain (holding hands). Photo opportunities are abundant.

Cruise ships and local excursion companies transport thousands of visitors to the falls every year. The falls are less than a 10-minute drive from Ocho Rios, although some excursion companies take visitors there by boat.

Dolphin Cove, another popular shore excursion, claims to be the No. 1 tourist attraction in Jamaica with locations in Ocho Rios, Negril and Montego Bay.

The Ocho Rios facility is about two miles or three kilometers west of the cruise docks on the way to Dunn’s River Falls.

The beachfront property has been in business since the 1990s and offers a variety of interactions with dolphins, sharks, stingrays, parrots and pirates along with glass bottom boat excursions.

Other area attractions include river rafting and canoeing on the nearby White River or hiking or cycling in the Blue Mountains. But they are more appropriate for stayover visitors and not cruise visitors.

In addition, many visitors go to Eden Falls, Fern Gully and Shaw Park Botanical Gardens. Excursion companies offer jeep safaris, ATV safaris, zip line canopy tours and a bamboo rafting trip, among other adventures.

Cruise visitors who would rather spend time on the beach will find an easy and convenient choice at Ocho Rios Bay Beach right by the cruise docks.

The best beach in the area is the quarter-mile-long Reggae Beach, which is about four miles or seven kilometers east of the cruise terminal. It is known for its beauty, serenity and snorkeling.

Ocho Rios has two 18-hole golf courses. They are the Sandals Resort in Upton about five miles or nine kilometers southeast of Ocho Rios and the Jewel Runaway Bay course about 16 miles or 26 kilometers east of the cruise terminal at Runaway Bay.

Shopping

Ocho Rios cruise port
Ocho Rios cruise port. © Jamaica Tourism Board

The closest major shopping is Island Village right by the cruise docks.

It is a large shopping and entertainment development with an outdoor concert venue, reggae and Jamaican art museums, a casino, water sports and of course plenty of shopping.

Like every other major port in the Caribbean, Ocho Rios has a market of local arts and crafts. The Ocho Rios Craft Park, located by Main Street, has 150 shopping stalls with the usual array of handmade and commercial souvenirs for sale.

A third shopping complex, Island Plaza, is located in the center of Ocho Rios It also has a wide range of commercial and handmade arts, crafts and souvenirs.

Note that all merchandise on sales has a 16.5 percent consumer tax. Also be prepared to negotiate with the vendors over price.

Getting There

The Ian Fleming International Airport is the local airport. It’s about six miles east of Ocho Rios.

Another option is the Donald Sangster Airport in Montego Bay on the west coast. Visitors will have to take a taxi or a less-expensive van to their accommodations.

The trip takes about two hours. Ask the hotel or resort agent when booking a trip for recommendations on making the transfer.

Ocho Rios Weather

Jamaica monthly rainfall
Jamaica monthly rainfall. © Scott S. Bateman

Jamaica is one of the warmest islands in the Caribbean. Average high temperatures range from the mid-80s Fahrenheit or mid-20s Celsius during the winter to more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit or low 30s Celsius in the summer.

Rainfall averages less than one inch from January through March, picks up slightly in April and spikes during a brief rainy season in May and June.

Rain drops off somewhat in July and starts to climb again in August as the Caribbean hurricane season starts to become more active.

Total rainfall reaches nearly six inches in September and more than seven inches in October.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
April 12, 2024

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