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Visit Beautiful Jamaica and Ocho Rios

Updated on March 9, 2014

The Best Places to Stay in Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios isn’t just a tropical paradise with a huge array of activities and natural beauty; it’s also the home of some great accommodation choices! There are a number of fantastic options for tourists looking for a place to stay. Where you end up spending your nights depends on your budget as well as what you’re looking for. There are all-inclusive resorts for couples, family resorts, high-end hotels, moderate hotels, villas, lodges, and more. Although the all-inclusive resorts are the most expensive, the “all-inclusive” factor means guests pay one price for accommodations, meals, and entertainment. Some popular Ocho Rios all-inclusive resorts include Beaches Boscobel Resort & Golf Club and Beaches Grand Sport at Ciboney. The beautiful beach front, retro-looking Jamaica Inn is one of Ocho Rios’ most expensive hotels, complete with attractive patios, spacious bedrooms, deluxe bathrooms, room service, a pool, two bars, a tennis court, and more. If you are taking a family vacation you should keep in mind that children under 13 are not welcome at this particular hotel. Built around a sensational 1,500-foot golden beach in a private cover is the Shaw Park Beach Hotel, with a 1950s look yet modern bedrooms and bathrooms. This hotel features a family-friendly environment, ocean front units, as well as live entertainment and a wide array of water sports. Noel Coward’s Blue Harbour is a popular accommodation for Ocho Rios visitors. A nostalgic retreat compound once owned by Noel Coward comfortably houses about 10 to 12 guests at a time. The entire center can be rented in whole or in part, and includes the Villa Grande main house, the Villa Rose guesthouse, and the small Villa Chica cottage, and many amenities. Moderately priced hotels in Ocho Rios include the family-favorite Comfort Suites Crane Ridge, which overlooks Ocho Rios, the intimate Hibiscus Lodge Hotel and the High Hope Estate. For accommodation that’s a bit easier on your budget, try Little Pub Inn, Parkway Inn, Pineapple Hotel, or Tamarind Tree Hotel. By doing some online research, you can not only find out what accommodation is available that fits within your budget, but also what other tourists who have stayed there thought of it! Use this information to book the best vacation in Ocho Rios that falls within your budget.

Jamaica Satellite View
Jamaica Satellite View

Nightlife in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Nightlife in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Your day in Ocho Rios doesn’t have to end after a day of sightseeing followed by a satisfying, relaxing, authentic Jamaican meal in one of Ocho Rios’ many fine restaurants. In fact, whether if you love to party, or just hang out with other tourists and locals alike until the wee hours of the morning, your day could just be starting with the many exciting nightlife options you’ll find in Ocho Rios.

If you prefer to avoid the nightclub atmosphere, why not try a great alternative with an evening sunset cruise, right before, during, or after dinner (depending on when you eat). The views of Ocho Rios you’ll enjoy are simply spectacular, not to mention the dazzling effects of the sunset. This could be the setting of a perfect romantic evening if you are celebrating an anniversary or other event. There are several different sailboat companies offering sunset cruises so you shouldn’t find it difficult to locate one near your hotel.

Alternatively (or even afterwards!) you may want to head over to Little Pub Restaurant’s Sports Bar, one of the most popular hang-out spots of Ocho Rios, which is open quite late. Many tourists also like to check out Jamaic’N Me Crazy, found at the Renaissance Jamaica Grande, a night club that unfortunately (for some) has more tourists than locals, and seems more American than Jamaican; however, it does definitely have one of the best sound and lighting systems in Jamaica. You should note however that this is only open to guests of the Renaissance Jamaica Grande (unless you or your hotel know of another way to gain entry!).

If you’re looking for something a little different, try Club Amnesia, which is significantly closer to an authentic Jamaican night club experience. The music and atmosphere are quite unique, and you can dance or enjoy the shows until 4 in the morning if you’ve got the stamina. The bonus is you only have to pay a cover fee for live band nights, and it usually costs no more than $5 USD.

Another favorite is Margaritaville, a large, high-energy bar, grill, and restaurant that keeps its energy going well into the night, complete with live entertainment, theme nights, and reggae disco-style dancing.

Having partied the night away, grab a few hours sleep in your hotel room before staggering down to the beach to catch a few rays and a couple of more hours sleep before you make plans for the rest of the day – and isn’t that the stuff good vacations are made of?

Ocho Rios, Jamaica – An Overview

It’s not the capital of Jamaica, and it’s not the most popular tourist destination in the country but Ocho Rios is one of the best places for anyone to visit if they are wanting to experience a little of real Jamaican natural beauty that’s away from the pampered resort beach life.

Ocho Rios does have its share of this kind of vacation, but it combines it with some of Jamaica’s real natural gems. Dunn’s River waterfall for example falls within this location. This is the backdrop for many romantic vacations, and is something that many people coming to Jamaica want to visit – even those who are spending most of their holiday on another part of the island! Another of the area’s must-see places is only a short distance from the falls – the Dolphin Cove where you can actually swim with dolphins for a short period of time. For nightlife you can choose from nightclubs, bars, and even a cinema so even though you are surrounded by nature’s beauty by day, you can still become a party animal at night!

Although getting to the area is going to require you hiring a car from one of the main arrival destinations on the island, it’s certainly worth the effort because the attractions far outweigh the inconvenience of having an airport on the hotel doorstep! Some hotels offer airport shuttles so check this out when you are deciding where to stay if you think this could be a problem. One thing to bear in mind if you are only going to Ocho Rios for a day to visit the Falls and/or the dolphins is to avoid the days when the cruise ships dock in the area – weekdays are common for the cruise liners - but check at your hotel so that you pick a day when it will be less crowded!

What to do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

If you’re planning a visit to beautiful Ocho Rios in Jamaica, you’re going to one of the most beautiful parts of the island! Ocho Rios offers plenty of attractions and activities for tourists and locals alike. No matter how long you stay in this lovely bit of Jamaican paradise—whether it’s just a weekend as you make your way across the country sampling little bits of it, or spending a week or two in the one place —you are sure to find no shortage of things to do.

Enjoy a plethora of different water-based activities and sports in Ocho Rios, from snorkeling and scuba diving to gliding down the White River on a bamboo float. Ocho Rios is also home to the famous Dunn’s River Falls, a major tourist attraction that can sometimes overwhelm with its many visitors, but is a definite not-to-miss attraction. You’ll be able to climb a slippery, limestone-tiered waterfall with a guide, which is an experience unlike any other.

Be sure to check out Dolphin Cove, adjacent to Dunn’s River Falls, a gorgeous tropical retreat allowing you to swim with dolphins in their home territory, as well as view other undersea creatures, such as sharks, eels, stingrays, and a wide assortment of tropical fish and birds. Coyoba River Garden and Museum offers a real scenic and historical treat filled with lush tropical gardens, ponds, and waterfalls, as well as a fantastic museum with authentic Jamaican artifacts, giving you a real taste of true Jamaican culture.

A trip to Ocho Rios wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the exciting, open-air marketplace – it’s large so remember a hat and a bottle of water! This is where local artisans sell their handiwork. However, if you’re going to wander around and perhaps haggle for an item or two to take home as souvenirs of your trip make you leave any valuables safe at the hotel, and take only the money you intend to spend at the market.

Ocho Rios also offers great dining and nightlife experiences for the social butterfly, so after a day of sightseeing and activities, make sure to relax with a nice meal at one of the many restaurants, and then party into the night.

Romantic Vacations in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Montego Bay can be easily be the tourist capital of Jamaica, but having said that there’s still plenty of possibility to have a romantic vacation. There are some great resorts and hotels which offer complete privacy, personal beach spots so that you can sit and have sunbathe with your partner without being disturbed.

Montego Bay has a vast coast line where you can indulge in various adventure sports like wind surfing, scuba diving etc – some activities such as sailing, rafting or fishing you could even do together. When the activities and beach start to become a little tiring you can always walk hand-in-hand around the shopping areas such as the City Center Plaza and Crafts market.

Other romantic activities that couples can consider on their Montego Bay vacation are:

Chukka Blue Adventure Tours

Situated at Blue Hole, Sandy Bay, this company offers a horseback-riding tour through an ancient sugar estate. The tour meanders for two and a half hours through the picturesque Jamaican landscape and finishes with a dip in the sea (horse and all). First class horses, and equipment as well as experienced guides will ensure a memorable experience for all.

Rose Hall Beach Club

They call themselves the water sports capital of Jamaica and they’re probably right! Name any water sport and they have it: waterskiing, wave runners, para-sailing, kayaking, diving, fishing, snorkeling, and hydro-speeding, the list goes on. If you and your partner are water sports fans and would like to learn any of the above, this place is a must for you.

Tours to Cuba

If you want to add a little more to your Jamaican vacation, Vacation Outlet and Tropical Tours can add a Latin flavor to your holiday with a side trip to Cuba which lies a mere 90 miles from Jamaica's north coast. Adding a little traditional salsa in your step, you can tour historic Havana, and be back in Jamaica by nightfall with a daytrip excursion!

Whether you want to build memories of experiencing new things together, or just lie in the sand dreaming of a future together, Montego Bay offers a wonderful destination for a romantic vacation.

Swim with Dolphins in a Jamaican Paradise

Many people dream of one day taking a vacation in an island paradise such as Jamaica. Others dream of one day having the thrill of swimming alongside dolphins. Those who visit Ocho Rios in Jamaica can have the opportunity to do both at Dolphin Cove.

Dolphin Cove is currently the only place in Caribbean where you can get up close and personal with one of these beautiful animals. There are a variety of programs available which range from a simple “exhibit” type of tour where you walk through a jungle type environment and can see many exotic birds and animals as well as sea creatures, to a more thrilling adventure where you not only swim with the dolphins but have the opportunity of a “dorsal pull”. Some of the programs are age restricted, for example to actually be allowed to swim with the dolphins you must be over the age of 8 so if you have younger children in your party you might want to consider this, and explain the restrictions to them before you go to the cove.

As this is attraction is unique, and it’s an ambition of so many people, if you want to join any of the dolphin programs at Dolphin Cove you’d be advised to book up well in advance of your trip. Although there are 4 times a day when the tours take place, places are restricted and it fills up fast – especially on the days when cruise ships dock in Ocho Rios!

For a packed experience day, combine a visit to Dolphin Cove with a look at the incredible Dunn’s River waterfall which is a relatively short distance away. If you are booked into an afternoon tour at the Cove, spend the morning at the waterfalls, or vice versa. Whichever way around you do it, it’ll be a day of exhilarating experiences you won’t ever forget!

River Rafting – A Peaceful Way to See Jamaica

Have you ever thought about trying river rafting? If so, your vacation in Jamaica could be the perfect opportunity to stop thinking and start doing! Whether you want a memorable romantic activity to add to your honeymoon, or a more exhilarating white water experience, you’ll find it in Jamaica.

If you are looking for a gentle river rafting experience where you can relax while someone else does the work, allowing you to lazily watch the wildlife and scenery slow pass by, then you could try rafting tours on the White River, Black River, Martha Brae River or even the Rio Grande. The rafts are approximately 30-feet long, and made from bamboo. The raft captain will ensure that you have a safe journey and will enjoy your experience. If you want a moonlit rafting tour as something a little special, ask your hotel reception if any local rafting companies offer this – some of them do.

If you want to try your hand at white water rafting, or white water rafting is something that you pursue as a hobby, you can also do this in Jamaica. There are fast paced water locations in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Port Antonio. If you want to hire a local guide to help you navigate the rapids, this is also possible. White water rafting tours are generally 3-5 hours long.

Before booking your reservation, check out the details about what the tour will include and how long it will last. Does it include drinks or a picnic for example? If it’s only 45 minutes and allows time for swimming, is that 45 minutes of rafting time, or 45 minutes in total. If drinks aren’t included, then you should at least take some bottled water as it can get hot out on the river – and don’t forget the sunscreen and mosquito repellent! Thirst, heat and bugs can turn your river rafting trip into something memorable for the wrong reasons, so ensure that you know exactly what the trip includes, and are equipped to deal with nature, and you’ll have an unforgettable experience for all the right reasons.

Snorkeling Your Way to the Treasures of Jamaica

Snorkeling is one of the most memorable activities you can do on your vacation to Jamaica. Even if you are inexperienced, or not even too keen on spending too much time in the water, you should be able to find some way of experiencing the beauty of sea life that lies not far from the beach games of Jamaica’s tourist beaches.

All sides of the island offer snorkeling adventures but the best place is on the Northern side, if you take your vacation sometime between April and October, the water will be at its best temperature and will be perfect for your snorkeling activity. There are many different kinds of tours that you can take part in, either as a beginning snorkeling along the shoreline, or as an experienced snorkeling exploring the sea life treasures in underwater caves and reefs.

If you are tempted into snorkeling by the pictures you see of the underwater life, but aren’t really too sure if you’d be able to actually submerge yourself in the water and enjoy it – why not take a visit down to Montego Bay where the MoBay Undersea Tours operate. Here you’ll be able to reserve a place in their boat which has the perfect solution to your underwater problem – a panoramic underwater cabin where you can see all the sea life swimming around you, without getting as much as your feet wet!

If you do want to experience the real thing – snorkel, wetsuit and all – there are plenty of tours and classes that will help you get started, or more experienced, before you hit the water. Most areas also have rental outlets where you can borrow the equipment that you need to snorkel your way around Jamaica’s beautiful waters. Some places will even throw in a beginner’s class for those who rent their equipment.

There are many memorable activities you can do on your trip to Jamaica, but to experience the colorful underwater sea life has to be one that shouldn’t be missed!

Diving into Jamaica

Diving into the waters off the Jamaican shore may sound very exotic, and can be a lot of fun for both the beginner and the seasoned diver. For anyone who wants to be a little more adventurous than snorkeling there’s a world to explore beneath the ocean, but if you don’t have diving experience, you need to consider taking a class before you get into the water. In some areas such as Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril, the popular diving areas do tend to get booked up in high season so make sure of your place by making your reservation as soon as you can into your vacation (or before if this is at all possible in the area you are going to stay).

One of the most magical experiences you could take home from your vacation in Jamaica is to have dived to 30 or even up to 150 ft below the ocean’s surface. There you will see not only fish, but also both hard and soft corals and sponges in their natural environment. Once thing you mustn’t do however is to remove anything. There are some very strict restrictions in place in Jamaica that prevent anyone taking anything to the surface that belongs below the water – in certain areas, your diving guide may even tell you that touching things in the ocean is forbidden either for your safety or the safety of the wildlife.

Other things you can do when diving in Jamaica (depending on the time of year and part of the island you’re visiting) is to dive with turtles, swim with schools of exotically colored fish, or even see nursing sharks. A word of caution on the sharks however, most sharks in Jamaica won’t attack you but if you encounter one, swim slowly away – if you show fear and panic, this could upset them! There are places you can dive without fear of meeting up with sharks if you prefer life to be slightly less unpredictable, locations such as Sandy Hole which is home to sting rays, but no sharks!

Golfing on your Trip to Jamaica

One of the most popular activities for vacations these days is golf, and just because you’re going to Jamaica doesn’t mean that you have to trade your clubs in for a diving suit. There are quite a number of good quality golf courses available for you to use during your holiday through the island. Here are just a few of them:

The most spectacular new golf course in Jamaica has to be the White Witch Golf Course situated in Montego Bay as part of the Ritz Carlton Rose Hall Resort. Here you’ll find top quality service with everything from caddies to golf equipment – and someone (the white witch herself) to blame for all the lost balls and over pars! This course isn’t for the beginner however, it’s more rugged than most, but if you’re looking for a challenge a round or two here will certainly make your vacation memorable.

Not too far from the White Witch Golf Course is the Three Palms Ocean Course which is part of the Wyndham Rose Hall resort. There are a few holes on this course that will make chipping your ball into a bunker or pond look like child’s play as they are so close to the ocean! On the other hand, it’s a small price to pay for a course that not only has breathtaking ocean views, but also ruins and a waterfall as part of its natural backdrop!

The Ocho Rios Sandals Golf & Country club has a nice course for those who are staying in that part of the island. Again, the round of golf is topped off with some stunning ocean views to take your mind of the missed shots!

Although Jamaica isn’t known for its championship level courses, the courses it does have cater for different levels of play from challenging down to beginner – ideal for families. If you aren’t staying at a hotel that has the kind of golfing amenities you’re looking for, ask if the hotel can organize it so that you can have permission to play at one that does – sometimes the hotels have “arrangements” with one another that allow this kind of interaction between establishments.

Para-sailing High Above Jamaica

There’s something that you need to consider before you even seriously contemplate para-sailing as an activity you want to try out on your Jamaican vacation. Namely, are you afraid of heights? That doesn’t mean you can walk up to the top of a high building without getting dizzy, but rather you wouldn’t be afraid being suspected from the top of it! How will you be suspended by little more than fabric and ropes being a human kite over the ocean below? Para-sailing is an extreme sport that’s not for the fainthearted, so if you watch the participants yelling with exhilaration as they take off, and think about wandering along to sign up – think long and hard about whether or not you’re really up to this one!

One way of finding out if you’re ready to take such a step into the unknown is to fly tandem. In this scenario, you will be attached to an experienced para-sailer who will make sure that you aren’t hurt. This should be enough to find out if it’s something you could do solo, or if the tandem flight was all the para-sailing experience you need!

Many of the hotels offer para-sailing opportunities, equipment and coaching as part of their activity packages and this is probably all a beginner needs. The things to watch out for are the force of the take-off when the jet ski starts up and you fly backwards up into the sky – and the tricky part of getting the landing just right. In the middle, just sit back and enjoy the ride – and if you’ve got the nerve, take a few pictures, but it might be an idea to have the camera fastened to some clothing so that if you lose a grip on it, you won’t lose the camera into the ocean below.

If you want to try something a little bit different, or get a bit bored of lying on a sun-kissed beach, para-sailing is certainly worth considering – but remember, if you can’t handle heights, it’s not for you!

Take a Relaxed Spring Break in Jamaica

Jamaica offers not one but two popular spring break destinations: Negril and Montego Bay. The choice is yours — the rustic, relaxed atmosphere at the so-called "capital of casual" Negril, or a quicker-paced city experience in Montego Bay.  Whatever your choice, you are almost guaranteed a relaxing and laid-back vacation from classes and the stresses of real life.  Spring break is all about having fun and being with people you care about, and of endless fun-filled vacation days and nights.

At the Sunset Beach, Montego Bay you’ll find a resort/spa which has something to for everybody.  Playful and exciting, you'll splash your way through the magnificent, new Pirate's Paradise water park - with twists, turns, rides and slides for all ages.  Alternatively, simmer in the beachfront giant hot tub, or stroll through the tropical gardens.  Spend a day pampering your self with a treatment at the spa or release some of that pent up study energy on one of the many water sport activities available at the resort.

There are excellent water and extreme sports to be enjoyed in Jamaica which are great for a spring break vacation.  One option is the Free Scuba Diving at Falmouth.  Starting in 30 to 40 feet of water, the wall off Falmouth runs within a half-mile of shore.  Chubb Castle, a Falmouth favorite, starts shallow, its top decorated with soft corals and basket sponges and its wall strung with rope sponges and black corals. A chimney, dropping from 35 to 90 feet, leads to even more tunnels and caves.  Apart from the exhilaration of the dive, the sights will be something to remember long after graduation.

If it’s an activity in the water, whether surfing, windsurfing, paragliding or jet skiing, you’ll find there’s an opportunity to take part in it in Jamaica.  Many of the hotels have their own activity staff trained to teach guests to use the equipment, and have equipment for hire so that guests can enjoy the sports during their vacation.  The daytime activities at the beach, followed by the exuberant nightlife make Jamaica a great alternative to Spring Break in Florida!


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      Black George 

      6 years ago

      Beautiful place.....


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