Ocho Rios (Photo:Atomazul/Shutterstock)
3.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Kim Karis
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios, affectionately referred to as "Ochi" by the locals, is situated on the northern coast of the island of Jamaica, midway between the capital, Kingston, and the popular tourist resort of Montego Bay. The Spanish translation of Ocho Rios is "eight rivers," but the town's name most likely was derived from the abundance of waterfalls in the area (since you won't find eight rivers there). The shoreline is dotted with one hotel resort after another, with the Caribbean's trademark warm sands and turquoise waters in their backyards. Beyond the shoreline, rainforestlike greenery blankets the mountainous landscape. The strikingly lush tropical foliage makes it easy to see why the Parish of St. Ann, of which Ocho Rios is a part, is known as the "garden parish."

About Ocho Rios


Pro

Beaches and shops are near the pier, but Ocho Rios' best attractions are its rainforests and waterfalls

Con

The area's must-see attractions are a bit far out and best reached via organized shore excursions

Bottom Line

The actual town of Ocho Rios isn't much to speak of, but the surrounding nature is worth a visit


Find a Cruise to the Western Caribbean



Set just slightly past the cruise port, the shabby town of Ocho Rios offers plenty of duty-free shopping bargains, open-air eateries and happening bars on its two main drags, Main Street and DaCosta Drive (which run parallel to each other). Although the town is worth checking out, spending an entire day there would be overdoing it. For cruise-ship tourists, primary points of interest and attractions -- like Dunn's River Falls, Mystic Mountain and James Bond Beach -- lie beyond the actual town and are short 5- to 10-minute taxi rides away.

Ocho Rios gets its fair share of precipitation with the most rain falling in October, and average temperatures in Jamaica are in the 80's and 90's. (July and August are the hottest months, while February is the coolest.) Watch out for hurricane season in Caribbean ports from June until November.

Where You're Docked

The port has two piers for cruise ships. The Turtle Bay Pier is located next to the town's restaurants and shops, and the James Bond Pier, which is industrial in nature but serves cruise ships, is located farther west.

Good to Know

As with many other ports, and when traveling to foreign places in general, it's always best to proceed with caution. While in port, be aware of your surroundings, leave valuables and nonessentials on the ship, and take measures to keep yourself and your personal belongings safe. While you're shopping, merchants may come off as pushy, but responding with a respectful "no thanks" should do the trick.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The currency in Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Most shops, restaurants and attractions accept credit cards. ATM's are located at the cruise terminal and in town at Margaritaville, Soni's Plaza and Gem Palace. ATM's are also available at major attractions like Dunn's River Falls and Dolphin Cove. Be prepared to pay a higher service fee than you normally would from home, and make sure the machine is marked dual currency if it's U.S. dollars you want.

Language

Standard English is spoken in Jamaica, but the locals speak an English-based patois with a thick accent.

Shopping

Authentic Jamaican rum and Tia Maria (a coffee liqueur) make great souvenirs. Just remember that if you're flying home from your cruise, you'll need to put the bottles in your checked luggage.

Best Cocktail

A Jamaican classic is the Hummingbird, made with coffee liqueur, rum cream liqueur, milk, strawberry syrup and bananas, blended with ice to a smooth, frozen consistency.