The chances are if you’re heading to Jamaica that you will be staying in Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, as this is where many of the luxury all-inclusive Jamaica resorts are located. Of course, you’ll want to spend time sunbathing but there are many Ocho Rios attractions to tempt your fancy too. It’s a great base from which to explore the surrounding area and we’ve come up with 10 fun things to do in Ocho Rios which we hope you’ll find helpful.
Dive into the deep at Island Gully Falls
Many visitors to Jamaica head to the famous Dunn’s River Falls, but it can get very hectic there if a cruise ship is in port. That’s why we suggest that you consider visiting another Ocho Rios waterfall – Island Gully Falls. It was formerly known as The Blue Hole, and is hidden away down a quiet road. The journey is definitely worth it, as there’s an impressive cascading waterfall which you can dive into as well as a Tarzan style river swing. Island Gully Falls is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day.
Climb up a waterfall at Konoko Falls
Another picturesque Jamaica attraction is Konoko Falls and Park. What makes this place unique is that you can climb all the way up the waterfall, with the help of a guide. It’s essential to wear water shoes but you can buy them on site if you don’t have your own. Towels will also come in handy to dry off afterwards! Before climbing up the waterfall, enjoy the guided tour around the botanical gardens. They were once the home to the Taino Indian tribe and now feature a wide variety of our indigenous animals and birds. The park is open from 8 am to 4.30 pm daily.
Enjoy beachfront dining with the locals
For laidback dining with your feet in the sand, Bamboo Blu is the perfect choice. A true hidden gem, there is no signpost at this beachside restaurant within Mammee Bay Estate on Mammee Bay. Just check with the security guard that you’ve come to the right place! Once you reach the end of the track. you’ll find a charming blue and white building set on the 700 foot beach. Tuck into Caribbean and European dishes, washed down with a tropical cocktail. You can also do snorkeling or enjoy a banana boat ride for a small fee.
Learn how to cook jerk chicken
One of our favourite Ocho Rios excursions is to Yaaman Adventure Park. This 18th century estate, previously known as Prospect Plantation, has some fun activities on offer such as horseback riding, Segway tours and buggy rides. After a look around the aviary where you’ll come across some friendly birds, hop on board the jitney, a tractor drawn carriage for a ride around the 1,000 acre estate.
Our guide, Donovan, had us in stitches with his deadpan humour so make sure to ask for him if he’s available. The estate was purchased by Sir Harold Mitchell in 1936 and its grounds are dotted with trees planted by heads of state such as Sir Winston Churchill and Pierre Trudeau who visited. There are also many crops such as coconut, all spice, bananas and coffee. You’ll then have a tour of the Great House and learn how to cook jerk chicken and other delicious Jamaican food on the shady terrace overlooking the Caribbean sea. If you’re wary of spicy food, the trick is to add only a little Scotch bonnet pepper!
Get close to nature in a Flower Forest
Cranbrook Rainforest Gardens are a beautiful place to stroll around and makes an interesting excursion in itself. Set in 40 landscaped acres, the walking trail takes about a mile and a half to the river, where you can bathe if you wish. From the beautiful torch flower to the peacocks parading around, it’s a real treat for the eyes. There’s a small gift shop and cafe at the entrance.
Soar above the forest
However, the main attraction at Cranbrook Flower Forest is the Zip Line Canopy where you soar above the trees. It’s an adrenaline packed experience, as you swing along, admiring the scenery! The expert instructors create a sense of anticipation as you approach the first zip line. With traverses ranging from 105 to 660 feet, it will keep you busy for several hours.
Eat authentic Jamaican food at Miss T’s
To experience real Jamaican cooking, head to Miss T’s Kitchen. Hidden away in a quiet backstreet of bustling Ocho Rios, it’s the brainchild of Anna-Kay Tomlinson, otherwise known as Miss T. She’s passionate about Jamaican food and ever since the restaurant opened in 2009, it has been one of the top spots for fine Jamaican cuisine. In a beautiful courtyard setting, try a variety of sharing dishes such as curry goat, oxtail or lobster rundown.
Pamper yourself at Jamaica’s largest spa
If you’re looking for relaxing Ocho Rios activities, consider a spa session at Jamaica’s largest spa. AWE spa ® is located inside Moon Palace Jamaica®, one of the best hotels in Ocho Rios. Before your spa treatment, enjoy a complimentary Water Journey guided by your very own spa valet! They will lead you around the different areas such as the steam room, sauna and hydrotherapy pool before taking you to your professionally trained therapist. My massage was so relaxing that I fell asleep!
Take in the views from Oceans on the Ridge
For a panoramic view over Ocho Rios bay, you can’t beat Oceans on the Ridge in Shaw Park. This casual Jamaican restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch or dinner, though you could just savour one of their frozen cocktails. DJs or local bands often play there and the ambiance on the observation deck is very chilled. Check before you go whether the cruise ships are in port as it can get crowded at those times.
Admire the sunset
Although Negril is the most famous area of Jamaica for the sunsets, Ocho Rios isn’t half bad! It’s also worth getting up early for sunrise, when you might be lucky to see dolphins in the bay.
Where to Stay in Ocho Rios
One of the best Ocho Rios all inclusive resorts is Moon Palace® Jamaica. With the largest private beach in Ocho Rios, it has great sea views from most of its 705 guest rooms. The bedrooms are very comfy and as its all inclusive, the mini bar is fully stocked. We particularly liked the range of complimentary non-motorized watersports on offer, as well as the unique FlowRider wave simulator. Children will love the kids club and there’s also a teen lounge as well as several swimming pools. It’s popular for weddings with its gazebo overlooking the ocean and ballroom for larger parties.
As for food options, you’ll be spoilt for choice with six bars and five restaurants as well as 24 hour room service. We sampled Oriental cuisine at Momo, Italian at La Gondola, seafood at Pier 8 and sweet treats at La Boulangerie, open 24 hours a day. Of the bars, the adults only Martini bar was our favourite – don’t miss the chocolate Martini! The swim up bar outside is great fun too, and there’s regular entertainment on the outdoor stage too. All in all, a great place to stay.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these suggestions of things to do in Ocho Rios. You’ll find many of the activities in question featured here and lots more suggestions for what to see in Jamaica:
Have you ever visited Jamaica and which activity would you like to try out of these?