Exploring Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Are you planning a trip to Ocho Rios? You’d be making a good choice! Ocho Rios, or “Ochi” as it’s called by locals, is one of the top vacation spots in Jamaica.

In this coastal town, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in an island destination: white sand beaches and crystal-clear blue seas. In contrast, the landscape opposite the sea is mountainous and covered by dense rainforests, cut through by rivers and waterfalls.

Once a sleepy fishing village, Ocho Rios has grown into Jamaica’s busiest cruise ship port, welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. 

So, what makes “Ochi” so special? Where should you go and what should you do while you’re there? Here’s a quick guide to exploring Ocho Rios so that you can make the most of your trip.

How to Get to Ocho Rios

You can get to Ocho Rios from either of Jamaica’s two major international airports: Sangster International Airport (Montego Bay) and Norman Manley International Airport (Kingston). 

Ocho Rios is smack dab between the two. Whichever one you fly into, the drive to Ocho Rios will take 1.5 to 2 hours. Sangster International Airport is the more popular choice, though. It’s where most tourists land, regardless of where they’re staying.

Ian Fleming International Airport, in the nearby town of Boscobel, is actually the closest airport to Ocho Rios. It’s very small, though, and mostly caters to small, private aircraft; not many commercial flights land here.

Things to Do in Ocho Rios

Climb to the Summit of Dunn’s River Falls

Jamaica is home to many world-famous attractions, the crown jewel being Dunn’s River Falls. This impressive waterfall is located just outside of Ocho Rios.

You can climb over step-like rocks and through rushing water to get all the way to the 180-foot peak. The climb has to be done with a guide, often with a group as part of a human chain. Once you reach the summit, you can zipline to the base and get a spectacular view of the falls!

If the wet climb isn’t for you, you can opt for the dry climb up a staircase adjacent to the waterfall. This path doesn’t take you to the summit, though it can still be an incredibly  rewarding climb.

Dunn’s River Falls is one of the few waterfalls in the world that empty directly into the sea. At the base of the falls, there’s a pristine white sand beach.

Be Amazed by the Ocho Rios Blue Hole

Tucked away in the Ocho Rios rainforest, you’ll find the majestic Ocho Rios Blue Hole. Also simply called Blue Hole, this is a great spot to get an equal dose of adventure and relaxation.

Blue Hole is made up of sinkholes, lagoons, and waterfalls. The attraction gets its name from the water there — it’s an incredible shade of bright blue-green! You can swim in the lagoons, dive off of cliffs, explore hidden caves, and rope swings across the scenery.

A short hike from Blue Hole, you can also find Secret Falls, a slightly lesser-known but just as beautiful natural wonder.

Go Snorkeling

Ocho Rios is an idyllic spot to see stunning coral reefs and a wide variety of marine life, making it a must-do activity for any nature lover. The crystal-clear waters and variety of marine life make it an ideal spot for snorkelers of all levels of experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, there’s something for everyone in Ocho Rios. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the amazing underwater world right here in Jamaica!

Enjoy a Catamaran Tour

Whether you choose to go to Dunn’s River Falls or just sail around enjoying the incredible views, a catamaran tour will be one of the highlights of your trip. While on the catamaran you can enjoy food, drinks, and music as you enjoy your time on the water.

Where to Stay in Ocho Rios

Moon Palace Jamaica

Moon Palace Jamaica is a massive all-inclusive resort near the heart of Ocho Rios. This makes it a great place to stay if you’d like to do some shopping and sightseeing in the town itself. You can shop duty-free in Ocho Rios, by the way!

This resort is family-friendly and fun for all ages. There’s a kids club playroom, an exclusive teen hangout, and late-night entertainment for adults. 

The whole family can enjoy spending time on the beach, in pools, and dining at restaurants. Moon Palace is also home to the Awe Spa, one of the largest spas on the island. 

Sandals Ochi

Another huge resort in Ocho Rios — this time for adults only — is Sandals Ochi. This is the largest of all Sandals resorts in Jamaica. There are 100 pools, 16 restaurants, and 11 bars!

Sandals Ochi is split into two halves: the beachside and the hillside. The beachside is the livelier side, where you can find the Ocho Rios Beach Club. If you’re looking for a more peaceful vacation, consider staying on the hillside, where there are serene villas with private pools.

This is also the place to be for golf lovers. A stay at Sandals Ochi includes green fees for the nearby Sandals Golf & Country Club!

Couples Sans Souci

Couples Sans Souci is a luxurious all-inclusive resort tucked away in a quiet cove just outside of Ocho Rios. The scenery around this resort is breathtaking: lush greenery dotted with waterfalls, grottos, and natural mineral springs.

Like Sandals Ochi, Couples Sans Souci is an adults-only resort. Of the three pools and two beaches here, one each is fully clothing-prohibited. That could be either a pro or a con!

In addition to other Ocho Rios attractions, this resort is also near White River, one of the most popular rivers for rafting in the area.

Where to Eat in Ocho Rios


If you’re excited to try authentic jerk while in Jamaica, Scotchie’s should be on your itinerary. As the top jerk restaurant in Ocho Rios, you can order jerk chicken, pork, and fish here. 

The food is cooked on wood fire grills, as it’s meant to be! The mains are served with classic Jamaican sides like rice and peas, yam, bammy, and festival, as well as soup.

Scotchie’s is located in the neighboring town of Drax Hall, just a short drive from Ocho Rios. This spot is popular with locals and tourists alike and it’s always lively, especially at night!

Bamboo Blu

Bamboo Blu is a luxurious open-air restaurant and bar on a private beach. It’s located in Mammee Bay, just outside of Ocho Rios.

A wide variety of food is served here but seafood is the name of the game. Freshly caught fish, shrimp, and lobster are the main stars of the menu. Some dishes are international, while others are Jamaican or fusion.

The ambience here is top-tier; it’s a great spot for a romantic seaside dinner! The restaurant also has lounge chairs and cabana beds for relaxing after dinner and drinks.

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