Only in Ochee

Ocho Rios is the perfect spot for all things leisure and more

By: Bryce Longton

Located a bumpy hour-and-a-half away from the Montego Bay airport is Ocho Rios known as Ochee to locals. This piece of Caribbean heaven is worth banging over every pothole just to experience. While there is plenty of sand and sun to soak up, there is a lot more to see and do than your clients might think.

For those interested in strolling through a fragrant oasis of flowers, tell them to check out the Coyaba Gardens. The garden tour curves along a bubbling stream, winding through variations of tropical flowers, all labeled in local terms. Here, clients can also opt for a slow, barefoot hike through the property’s waterfalls.

If waterfalls and tropical plants aren’t quite the adventure your clients are looking for, you can sign them up for any number of tours through Chukka Cove. Daredevils can get their thrills with a canopy tour. The experience will have even the toughest clients shrieking as they careen from tree to tree, harnessed with only two ropes and a set of pulleys. There is one drop a 90-degree freefall from one tree to the next that is worth the entire trip.

If playing Jane and Tarzan doesn’t suit your clients, Chukka Cove offers a beach horseback riding tour. These gentle horses ride up and down the sand right next to the water perfect for anyone wanting the quintessential romantic moment to write home about.

Reggae enthusiasts will want to have lunch at Minnie’s. Once musician Bob Marley’s personal chef, Minnie now heads up this kitchen, serving renowned vegetarian fare.

Another restaurant worth making a reservation at is Harmony Hall. Full of charm and run by an Italian ex-patriot, it looks more like a plantation than an Italian bistro but the food here is as Italian as a moped running a red light in Rome. The Jamaican culture has seeped in: Italian staples like prosciutto and melon have morphed into prosciutto and papaya.

The menu changes daily and is scrawled onto two giant chalkboards that are trotted out to each table in lieu of individual menus. The seafood specials are spectacular, as is the homemade profiteroles. Harmony Hall is also home to one of Ocho Rios’ best art galleries. After stuffing themselves silly, clients can feel free to poke around upstairs and marvel at the local art, some of which is fairly affordable.

For some, duty-free shopping is the best reason to have an international boarding pass, and Jamaica is one of the best spots for tax-free spending. There are dozens of shopping enclaves and craft markets to browse through, and plenty of good deals especially in the arena of fine jewelry. If travelers are in the market for a fancy watch, a pair of diamond earrings or even an engagement ring Jamaica offers plenty to choose from at reasonable prices. Tell travelers to try the Ocean Village Shopping Centre for books, music and diamonds.

If clients are hankering for a bit of local culture to take home and display on a shelf, send them to the Ocho Rios Craft Park. Here clients can pick up woodcarvings and other Ochee trinkets.

For those interested in exploring beyond dry land, great diving, deep-sea fishing and snorkeling are just off shore. Princess of the Sea offers daily excursions.

Golfers who need to tee up to make their vacation perfect can play a round at the Sandals Golf and Country Club. At 700 feet above sea level, this course is worth a visit for the view alone.

As far as nightlife goes, there are two clubs clients should check out. The Acropolis gets going around 9 p.m., and is fun for anyone who likes to hit the dance floor or just watch others shake a tail feather. The cheesy-but-fun Jamaica Mi Crazy is always full of characters and features live music on certain nights.

From sunning to dancing and snorkeling to horseback riding, Ocho Rios has something for everyone, which makes Ochee a little piece of vacation heaven.


The Acropolis: 876-974-2633
Chukka Cove: 876-972-2506
Coyaba Gardens: 876-974-4546
Harmony Hall: 876-975-4222
Jamaica Mi Crazy: 876-974-2201
Minnie’s: 876-795-1655
Princess of the Sea: 876-974-1480

Jazz Lovers can check out the annual Ocho Rios Jazz Festival held in June. 876-927-3544