Ocho Rios Travel Guide

Ocho Rios Summary

Pros

  • Private white-sand beaches (meaning fewer drug dealers)
  • Swimming and hiking at the 695-foot waterfall park, Dunn's River Falls
  • Swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Cove
  • Reggae Explosion, a tiny but comprehensive museum of the island's most jammin' reggae greats
  • Island Village outdoor shopping mall
  • Money-saving all-inclusive resorts
  • 80-90 degrees F (27-32 degrees C) beach weather, year-round
  • Warm locals and some of the most attentive service anywhere in the Caribbean
  • Tap water is safe to drink

Cons

  • Two-hour drive from the closest international airport
  • Cruise-ship passengers crowd most shops and attractions
  • Less nightlife than in Montego Bay or Negril
  • Most resorts are a long drive from dining or attractions
  • Limited dining outside the resorts
  • Prevalent drug culture
  • Criminalized homosexuality between men and hostility toward LGBT individuals
  • Very little public transportation (mostly unmetered taxis available)
  • Slight chance of hurricanes from June 1 to Nov. 30

What It's Like

Located two hours east of Montego Bay International Airport -- the closest international airport -- Ocho Rios was just a sleepy fisherman's village until the 1960s, when hulking mega-resorts began taking over the region's long, winding beaches.

Outside the resorts, Ocho Rios hosts two of Jamaica's most famous attractions: Dunn's River Falls -- waterfalls that drop 695 feet directly into the ocean -- and Dolphin Cove, where visitors can swim with dolphins, sharks, and stingrays.

Ocho Rios proper is a tiny town, often filled with cruise-ship passengers buzzing throughout the day at Island Village, an outdoor mall with a few decent restaurants, a 200-seat movie theater, and several jewelry and souvenir shops. But nightlife is more scarce here than in Montego Bay or Negril. Most shops close by 6 p.m., when the ships take to sea.

Where To Stay

Ocho Rios is dominated by giant, all-inclusive mega-resorts that attract both young families (like Beaches Boscobel, with its Sesame Street signs and midafternoon Muppet sing-alongs) and couples gone wild (like the the couples-only Sandals Grande resort, with its poolside contests). But quiet comfort can still be found -- for a premium price at the Jamaica Inn or on a budget at the Moxons Beach Club, a no-frills favorite.

Many of the hotels are set miles apart. This means two things: Most guests are stuck inside their high-walled compound for much of their vacation, and the quality of the beaches varies dramatically from property to property. On the high end, there are the stunningly clear water and soft sands at the Royal Plantation.

 

View all Ocho Rios Hotels

Facts

Languages: English
Airports: Sangster Int'l (MBJ) (2-hour, $80 cab ride)
Negril Airport (NEG) (domestic only)
Norman Manley Int'l (KIN)
Time Zone: View Current Time
Peak: Dec. 15-April 15
Off-Peak: Sept. 15-Dec. 15
Hurricanes: June 1-Nov. 30
Vaccines: No
Currency: Jamaican Dollars
Electricity: 110 V, 50 Hz
Tipping: 15-20% at restaurants

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