14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ocho Rios
A harbor on Jamaica's north coast shelters Ocho Rios and the surrounding region of tropical gardens and waterfalls. Hibiscus and poinsettia grow in profusion, and resorts stretch for several kilometers on either side of town. Ocho Rios is a major port of call for cruise ships. It's quieter than Montego Bay, though not as relaxed as Negril, and most of the tourist attractions lie in the surrounding countryside. Lush gardens, lazy rivers, cascades, and caves and are just some of the natural wonders of the area, and historic plantations nestle in the foothills.
The area has long been a playground for musicians and literati. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond series made his home near here at Oracabessa. Visitors can tour the hilltop retreat of Noel Coward, the famous playwright and composer, and music fans flock to Nine Mile, the birthplace and final resting place of reggae legend, Bob Marley. Ocho Rios is also the launching point for adventures such as dolphin encounters, bobsled rides, ziplining, and river tubing.
See also: Where to Stay in Ocho Rios
1 Dunn's River Falls
A climb up Dunn's River Falls is an Ocho Rios highlight. One of Jamaica's most photographed attractions, the falls encompass 180 meters of terraced waterfalls. With the help of a guide, visitors can climb the limestone tiers to the top of the falls, slide down the smooth sections of rock, and swim in the cool lagoons at the base. Cruise ship crowds flock here when the ships are in port. Bring a camera and wear water shoes and appropriate clothing as visitors can expect to get soaked.
Address: Hwy A3, Ocho Rios
On the site of a former lookout for the pirate, Henry Morgan, Firefly is the hilltop home and final resting place of playwright, Sir Noel Coward. The simple one-bedroom home was built high on a hill above Coward's original home, Blue Harbour, and his photos, paintings, and pianos are still in place. Today visitors can tour the home and enjoy spectacular views of the Jamaican coast.
Location: Grant's Town, St Mary
3 Green Grotto Caves
The Green Grotto Caves are the reputed hideaway of runaway slaves and Spanish settlers escaping from the British and were once a backdrop for a Bond movie. Today Jamaica's best-known limestone caves are home to bats and snakes. Guided tours through the Runaway Bay attraction share the history of the caves and show visitors the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites as well as an underground lake. The slippery paths and many stairs might be a challenge for those with physical disabilities.
4 Nine Mile
A Mecca for music fans, the small village of Nine Mile in Saint Ann Parish is the birthplace and final resting place of reggae legend, Bob Marley. Guided tours take visitors through a small museum and the mausoleum where Marley is buried. During the tour, visitors can learn about the Rastafarian religion and hear interesting stories of Marley's extraordinary life.
Location: Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish
5 Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Mountain
Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Mountain is one of the top attractions in Ocho Rios. Visitors ascend the mountain on a chairlift, the Rainforest SkyExplorer, and enjoy beautiful views of the cruise ship port and coastline below. Once at the top, adventure seekers can cruise down the mountain on Bobsled Jamaica, a single person roller coaster ride, or fly through the rainforest treetops on the zip-lines. Guided nature walks and an infinity pool with a waterslide are among the other things to do at this popular park.
6 Coyaba River Garden and Museum
The Coyaba River Garden and Museum offers a little history in a lovely garden setting by a creek filled with turtles and fish. The small local history museum features exhibits of rare maps and artifacts from Jamaica's turbulent past.
Also on site is Mahoe Falls, which cascades over rocks and is a great spot for swimming. From the nearby Ysassis Lookout Point visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Ocho Rios Bay.
Address: Shaw Park Estate, Ocho Rios
7 Turtle River Falls and Gardens
Turtle River Falls and Gardens (formerly Enchanted Gardens) offers visitors a chance to commune with nature. The property encompasses 15 acres of mountainside gardens, 14 waterfalls, small pools, hammocks, and a koi pond. A highlight here is the aviary full of exotic birds. Guests can wander in and hand-feed them as they descend on outstretched arms.
Address: Eden Bower Rd, Ocho Rios, St. Ann
8 Shaw Park Gardens
High in the hills overlooking Ocho Rios and the Caribbean, Shaw Park Gardens is a sanctuary for nature lovers. Within the 25-acre grounds visitors can stroll through lush botanical gardens punctuated by tropical blooms and lily-topped ponds. Many species of birds flit through the trees and a waterfall cascades through the gardens.
Address: Shaw Park Rd, Ocho Rios
9 Dolphin Cove
Across the road from Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios, popular Dolphin Cove is a three-acre marine park offering dolphin, shark, and stingray encounters. The property encompasses a natural cove where visitors can snorkel or kayak surrounded by rainforest. As well as encounters with marine creatures, animal lovers can visit iguanas, snakes, and tropical birds on the Jungle Trail walk.
10 White River
At White River, nature lovers can relax on inner tubes and drift along the crystal clear river over gentle rapids. Singing guides add to the fun. This is a soothing trip and a great way to unwind and enjoy the tropical scenery. Birders will enjoy looking for new species in the lush foliage fringing the river.
11 Fern Gully
Running south from Ocho Rios, Fern Gully is a five-kilometer winding road built on an old riverbed. Giant tree ferns form a canopy overhead creating a tunnel-like effect for those who cruise along the road. It's a beautiful drive and the thick foliage of the unspoiled tropical forest blocks the sun at several points along the route.
12 Prospect Plantation
Tucked between the mountains and the sea near Ocho Rios, Prospect Plantation is a working farm producing allspice, cocoa, limes, bananas, pineapples, coffee, and sugar cane. Guests can enjoy a guided tour of the beautiful grounds and learn about the production of some of these tropical crops.
In addition to the plantation grounds and buildings, visitors will find a butterfly enclosure and opportunities for horseback riding. Culinary classes in traditional Jamaican cuisine are offered and there are five waterfront villas available for rent.
13 Harmony Hall
Highlighted with gingerbread fretwork, 19th-century Harmony Hall houses one of the islands most recognized arts and craft centers. Jamaica's finest artists display paintings, sculptures, and ceramics here, and art lovers can purchase their favorite pieces at relatively reasonable prices. After strolling through the gallery, visitors can enjoy a meal at the popular Italian restaurant downstairs.
Address: Main St, Tower Isle, St Mary
14 Blue Hole
At the Blue Hole, in the lush mountains outside Ocho Rios, nature lovers can soak in refreshing jungle pools fed by a series of waterfalls. Guides lead visitors over the slick rocks to vantage points high on the rocks where they can jump off into the blue pools below. Bring a camera and water shoes.
Where to Stay in Ocho Rios for Sightseeing
Most of the resorts in Ocho Rios cluster along the coral-fringed coast, and this is the best place to stay. Top tourist attractions, such as Dunn's River Falls and Green Grotto Caves, are spread out around the lush countryside, and you can visit them on organized tours from the resorts. Here are some highly-rated hotels by the sea:
- Luxury Hotels: Nestled into lush foliage on a reef-dappled cove, plantation-style Hermosa Cove has stylish art-filled interiors and a pretty three-tiered oceanfront pool. You can follow in the footsteps of illustrious former guests like Marilyn Monroe and Ian Fleming at the peaceful, family-owned Jamaica Inn, on a pristine private cove. Personal service is a standout feature here. Presiding over the sea from a coral bluff, the intimate adults-only Sandals Royal Plantation has ocean-view rooms with butler service and two small, sandy beaches. Guests have access to more restaurants and facilities at the livelier Sandals Ochi Beach Resort next door.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Packed with amenities and organized activities, ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios is a sprawling all-inclusive resort on beautiful Mamee Bay. Much more intimate is the boutique Hibiscus Lodge Hotel on a jungle-cloaked cliff near the center of town. The beach is tiny, but you can snorkel right from shore, and breakfast is included in the rates. Accessible by boat transfer, the adults-only, all-inclusive Couples Tower Isle offers unlimited spa treatments and PADI-certified SCUBA diving included with your stay.
- Budget Hotels: Chrisanns Beach Resort, with a pool and small, rocky beach offers affordable beachfront vacation apartments. Amenities differ in each apartment as they are privately owned. Silver Seas Resort Hotel is also on the beach and older in style as is Rooms Ocho Rios. Both are right near town.