Time Out in Ochi

Clients can spend a day exploring Ocho Rios

By: Janeen Christoff

There are loads of active and adventurous things to do in Ocho Rios or Ochi, as the locals call it. Clients can sail on a catamaran, fly through the jungle on a zip line, horseback ride in the sea or swim with dolphins. However, for a tamer way to explore this bustling Jamaican enclave away from the hustle and bustle of tour buses and itineraries Ocho Rios offers duty-free shopping, dining and sightseeing, easily reached by foot or a short cab ride.

Hiking the Falls
Jamaica is known as the land of rivers; Ocho Rios actually translates to “eight rivers.” Clients can check out the island’s watery nature first hand at Dunn’s River Falls Park. The best way to get there, whether clients have accommodations in the city or arrived via cruise ship, is by taxi. Constantly reshaping itself, the falls remain one of the country’s national treasures and a visit is meant to be fun for the whole family.

Adventurous guests can climb the falls in a human chain on a guided walk upriver. Guests gather at the guide center to be escorted to the bottom of the falls, where they form a human chain and slowly climb the rocky face of the river. A great team-building exercise for family and groups, the whole climb takes about one hour from bottom to top.

Those opting for a less adventurous route can check out the fun by walking alongside the river to several viewing decks. Clients can also sun themselves along the beach or explore the surrounding foliage where they will see ferns, bamboo, ginger lilies, orchids and a variety of palms. Before leaving, guests often shop the crafts market or stop for ice cream and other treats.

Entrance to the park is $15 for adults and $12 for kids, and facilities include changing rooms and lockers for storage of any personal items visitors don’t want to get wet. In addition, aqua shoes are available to rent if clients want some extra traction climbing the falls. Tevas and tennis shoes also work, but advise clients that they will get them soaking wet making the climb. Allow about two hours or more to really enjoy the park.

Shopping Sprees
There are five open-air craft markets in and around Ocho Rios. Located on the main drag, the Ocho Rios Craft Market is the perfect place to pick up inexpensive, handmade souvenirs. Small and maneuverable, the market offers everything from high-quality straw fans with hand-stitched designs and wood-carved turtles, to Jamaica T-shirts, hats, flip-flops and coffee-bean necklaces for $1. Vendors are sometimes aggressive in generating interest in their wares, but a simple “no thank you” will do.

Other outdoor markets include Olde Market Craft Shoppes next to the Seow Supermarket, Pineapple Craft Circle at Pineapple Place, Coconut Grove Craft Market next to Coconut Grove Shopping Centre and Fern Gully Craft Centre at Fern Gully.

For a posh shopping experience, visit the Island Village Shopping Center on the main street, close to the cruise ship terminal and the center of town. Here, clients will find duty-free shops and several high-end art dealers and local crafts.

What’s for Dinner
The Island Village Shopping Centre is also next to (the notorious) Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and a new Hard Rock Cafe. Opened in 2002, Margaritaville in Ocho Rios is the chain’s third addition the first in Montego Bay and the other in Negril. By day, the restaurant is busy with tourists and cruise-ship passengers. But after the sun goes down, Margartitaville attracts a rowdy crowd, and clients should expect to pay a $10 cover most nights. Many hotels have a specific “Margaritaville” night, offering free transfers and entry, as well as drink specials and free shots at the restaurant.

The Hard Rock Cafe Ocho Rios is slated to open later this month, but the retail store is already a popular spot for North American visitors.

For those who are more interested in traditional fare, the Ocho Rios Jerk Centre, located on the road to Dunn’s River Falls Park, is well-known among locals for its outstanding jerk chicken. Scotchies is another tasty eatery, although the restaurant is much farther out of town on the road from Montego Bay.


Dunn’s River Falls Park
Park Hours: 8:30 a.m-4 p.m.

Hard Rock Cafe