The OCHO RIOS AREA, or just plain “OCHI” as the Locals refer to it, is a nice mixture of Tourism and Local life. Often referred to as the “North Coast”, the ‘Ochi Area’ stretches from Discovery Bay in the West to near Port Maria in the East. Nicely nestled in a bowl shaped area surrounded by protective mountains, the downtown area of Ochi is highlighted by sparkling beaches and the bustle of cruise ship docks. Ocho Rios (Spanish for “eight rivers”) is actually named so from the corruption of “chorreras” (waterfalls) the name the Spanish gave to this area. Bauxite (aluminum ore) and not banana shipments, was the main reason that Ochi began to boom but to some, Ochi is still just a quiet little fishing village having some bargain accommodations and the “All Inclusive” resort Meccas all existing together.
Here are my “10 FAVORITE DESTINATIONS” around the OCHO RIOS AREA. I will divide them into two categories (five in each). You will see some overlapping each other but I assure you, each is somehow significantly different in experience.
1) DUNN’S RIVER FALLS & PARK – The most well known attraction in Jamaica, the 600 feet of cascading water over well-worn rocks is a climb many consider a rite of passage. Something everyone should do at least once!
2) SHAW PARK BOTANICAL GARDENS -An 18th century Great House and later the Shaw Park Hotel is now over 25 acres of bromeliads, ferns, exotic shrubs and ferns. Great view of Ochi! Bar and Restaurant too!. Very Nice!
3) FERN GULLY -A natural 3-mile gorge that is now a national park. Around 1800 hundred varieties of ferns were planted in the shade of the canopy provided by huge trees. Nice local crafts available in a beautiful setting! Early morning is the best time to see this spot!
4) JAMES BOND BEACH -Island Trading Company (Chris Blackwell) is undertaking a dramatic revival project that will soon make Oracabessa a top tourist destination! A 19th century village is being constructed and two new beaches created. See it before it gets too crowded!
5) FIREFLY – Former home of playwright Noel Coward and now owned by the Jamaican government who leases it to Island Trading Company (Chris Blackwell), Firefly has undergone a meticulous restoration as it occupies a beautiful vista of the Galina Point/Cabarita Island shoreline. A must see!
1) NINE MILE – On February 6th, 1945 the “King of Reggae”, Robert Nesta Marley was born in this tiny mountain hamlet. The Bob Marley Foundation oversees his childhood home and the crypt that is his final resting place. No true Reggae Fan should miss this stirring experience!
2) CHUKKA COVE FARM – From a spirited game of polo to a 3-hour “family friendly” horseback ride in the surf, horses rule at Chukka Cove! Take the mountain ride up Mt. Zion where you can stay overnight at the Lillyfield Great House. This ride is for the experienced rider!
3) CRANBROOK BOTANICAL GARDENS – A wonderful day out for the nature lovers among us! Exquisite gardens and an unbelievable assortment of exotic plant species. Tube the river, fishing and horseback riding highlight the activities or just relax among the numerous gazebos and picnic spots. Very nice and relaxing!
4) WHITE RIVER RAFTING – Every Tuesday and Saturday night they offer “Exotic Night on the White River” with flaming torches and a romantic dinner with LOCAL wine! Also the home of the “White River Reggae Park” a venue for live reggae musical events. Lots to do!
5) STRAWBERRY FIELDS — “Nothing is Real”. A true “counterculture” spot popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Hard to find about 5 miles inland from Robin’s Bay and this one’s for the Adventurer among us. Lovely place to camp!
The OCHO RIOS AREA of Jamaica has something for everyone. I hope this list will help you decide to make this area your next travel destination!
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