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

By Chelle Koster Walton
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 area is best known for its abundance of waterfalls. 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, rainforest-like greenery blankets the mountainous landscape. The strikingly lush tropical foliage makes it easy to see why Saint Anne Parish, of which Ocho Rios is a part, is known as the "garden parish."

Set just slightly past the cruise port, the town of Ocho Rios offers plenty of craft vendors, 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 five- to 20-minute taxi rides away. 

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

About Ocho Rios


Pro

Beaches are near the pier but Ocho Rios' best sites are its rainforests and waterfalls.

Con

Must-see attractions are a bit far out and best reached via organized shore excursions.

Bottom Line

The town isn't much but surrounding nature and adventure attractions are worth a visit.


Find a Cruise to the Western Caribbean

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 might 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. ATMs are located at the cruise terminal and in town at Island Village, Soni's Plaza and Gem Palace. 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

Haggle in classic Jamaican style at the craft market; you can get good prices on straw items, woodcarvings and souvenirs. Downtown, head for the Taj Mahal Shopping Center and Soni's Plaza. Both offer shops featuring unique jewelry, clothing and gifts. In the duty-free arena, you can get good buys on jewelry, cameras, china and crystal. Good souvenir choices include the island's well-known coffees, Blue Mountain (top-shelf) and High Mountain (a less expensive blend); Tia Maria, the made-in-Jamaica coffee liqueur; and Jamaica rum.


Ocho Rios Awards

Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards

2016 Top-Rated Western Caribbean & Riviera Maya Destinations