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.
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.
Sangster Int'l (MBJ) (2-hour, $80 cab ride)
Negril Airport (NEG) (domestic only)
Dec. 15-April 15
Sept. 15-Dec. 15
June 1-Nov. 30
110 V, 50 Hz
15-20% at restaurants