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Waterfalls shrouded in rainforest, sandy beaches with coral reefs offshore, botanical gardens, rafting and reggae, all in the resort town of Ocho Rios.

A soundtrack of rushing waterfalls and reggae beats awaits you at Ocho Rios, a resort town in the ‘garden parish’ of Saint Ann on Jamaica’s north coast. Here, you can balance your time between relaxing on white sand, exploring West Indian and Taíno indigenous cultures through music, and rafting, tubing or zip-lining among the tropical rainforest that coats the surrounding landscape.

Ocho Rios translates to ‘eight rivers’ but is believed to be a mispronunciation of the Spanish Las Chorreras (‘the waterfalls’) reflecting the abundance of flowing water in the region. The nearby Dunn’s River Falls is the most popular, and you can climb its tiered cascade, which cuts through emerald forest and out onto a pearly beach.

Elsewhere, you can stroll botanical gardens, snorkel at the small reef off Mahogany Beach and visit the spot where Honey Rider (Ursula Andress) emerges from the sea in the well-known Dr. No Bond scene.

Things to see and do in Ocho Rios

Soak up the music scene in Ocho Rios town

Once a sleepy fishing village surrounded by green hills, Ocho Rios has since become a popular place for visitors looking to seek thrills in the forest, relax on sandy shores or experience the music scene, which has been touched by both West Indian and indigenous Taíno influences. The town’s popularity has seen a wide range of hotels and shops spring up alongside traditional local markets filled with artisan stalls. But, you’ll find a peaceful atmosphere once the cruise ships have pulled anchor.

Music is a huge part of the culture here, and the streets thrum to the beats of reggae and the soothing tones of jazz. Time your visit with the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival in June to see the town come to life with live performances and an upbeat atmosphere. Or, you could visit the Reggae Xplosion museum, which, despite its name, showcases ska, dub, mento and dancehall music as well as reggae through audio commentaries and songs, photographs and a re-created recording studio.

Beach relaxation and reef snorkelling

The dazzling sand beaches are part of what draws people to this corner of Jamaica. Mahogany Beach is a five-minute taxi ride away, a small, forest-backed pocket of pale-gold sand lapped by clear, turquoise waters. Just offshore here lies a small reef where you can snorkel for glimpses of brilliant tropical fish. Travel slightly further along the coast and you’ll get to Bamboo Beach, where a scattering of sun loungers are shaded under palm fronds.

Bond fans might also like to venture 16 km (10 miles) outside the town to visit Laughing Waters, whose clear waters, golden sands and lush mountainous backdrop were used as a filming location for possibly the most memorable scene in 1962’s Dr. No. It’s also reputed that Ian Fleming based himself in this area while he wrote many of his Bond novels.

Rainforest activities and Shaw Park Botanical Gardens

Inland from the coast, you can make the most of St Ann’s tropical scenery. You might want an adrenaline-filled morning zip-lining, tubing or rafting through the jungle. Or, enjoy a relaxing stroll in Shaw Park Botanical Gardens, where a large waterfall cascades through a rockery and you can admire native and non-native flowers and trees.

Climb to the top of Dunn’s River Falls

The best, and most well-known, waterfall, is Dunn’s River Falls. At 55 m (180 ft) high, the terraced cascade flows over a natural staircase of water-smoothed rock, which you can climb with caution to view it from above. As a less-hazardous option, there are also man-made stairs running alongside the falls if you’d rather stay dry. Tropical vegetation shades the area, and you can cool off in the natural pools that have been formed by the falls. The water flows for 183 m (600 ft), spilling out to the Caribbean Sea from the end of a white-sand beach.

The falls come with their own slice of history, having been the location of the 1657 Battle of Las Chorreras between British and Spanish forces. You’ll see a plaque at the bottom of the falls commemorating the event.

Best time to visit Ocho Rios

Like the rest of Jamaica, Ocho Rios experiences a warm, tropical climate all year round. Conditions only vary slightly between winter and summer, though hurricanes are possible in September and October. The driest months are between mid-December and mid-April, making it a good place to head to for a winter break. For a quieter time, though, we recommend visiting between mid-April and May or November and mid-December.


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Map of Ocho Rios

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    Places near Ocho Rios

    Accommodation choices for Ocho Rios

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Ocho Rios. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing Ocho Rios

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Ocho Rios, and which use the best local guides.

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