Things to do in Ocho Rios: Best excursions, attractions, beaches, shopping

Jamaica is easily one of the most visited islands in the Caribbean, and for good reason. With lots of natural attractions as well as shopping, good eats and culture, Jamaica attracts visitors from the world over, each one eyeing their dream tropical vacation. If you’re traveling to the island via a cruise to Ocho Rios, then you’ll find lots of great attractions right in town or just outside of town, making Ocho Rios a one stop shop.

But because there is so much to do and see, we’ve gone ahead and created a list of the best of the best when it comes to local excursions, attractions, beaches and shopping. Because not all of the attractions and excursions in the area are worth your money, you’ll want to stick to the highly rated ones. Keep reading below for more information.

Best excursions of Ocho Rios and surrounding area

Ocho Rios itself is relativity small, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t find anything to do. In fact, there is a rather large number of excursions in and around Ocho Rios, making it perfect for those who want to get up and have a fun filled, action packed day. Though there are lots of excursions in the area, not all of them are created equal. Below you’ll find our list of the best excursions to partake in.

Chukka Caribbean Adventure’s Zion Bus Line

A classic Jamaica bus, the Zion Bus Line will take you on a tour from Ocho Rios to the birth (and final resting place) of Bob Marley. This is a great tour for those who love the music of Bob Marley and other similar artists. The tour itself lasts about 5 hours, making it a great day trip option. During each and every tour, guests will find themselves privy to food and drinks, a free lunch at Jerk Centra and bathroom stops along the way. Each bus includes cooling fans and a DVD stereo system as well.

  • Adult: US$114.00
  • Child: US$74.00

>>>Tickets for the Chukka Caribbean Adventure’s Zion Bus Line

Cool Runnings Catamarans

Named after the popular movie, Cool Runnings Catamarans is a cruise tour that allows you to swim and snorkel in the beautiful sea off of Ocho Rios town. There are a few cruise options available, though perhaps the most popular is the Cool Runnings Dunn’s River Snorkel. This tour lasts a few hours and sets sail from Mahogany Beach. You’ll first start off your excursion with a snorkeling and ocean swimming experience before heading over to Dunn’s River Falls. Once there you’ll be guided up the waterfalls and into the forest. After your trek is complete, you’ll then party it up on the catamaran during your sail back to base.

  • Adult: US$ 86.00
  • Child: US$47.00

>>>Tickets for the Cool Runnings Catamaran Tour

Hooves Jamaica

Great for those who love horses, Hooves Jamaica offers guided tours through 16th century monuments and a private beach. This tour is ideal for all ages and experience levels, making it extremely popular with tourists. The tour is also about 2 and 1/2 hours long, which is great for guests who love the idea of a horseback ride but rather not be on horseback the entire day. When booking this tour, remember that because you will be taking a dip in the ocean with your horse, to bring a swimsuit and towel. If you have a waterproof camera like a GoPro, you’ll want to bring that as well.

  • Adult: US$70.00
  • Child: US$50.00

>>>Tickets for Hooves Jamaica

Best attractions in and around Ocho Rios

There are over a dozen different attractions in and around Ocho Rios for you to select from, which can make planning your day a little tiring. With that said, some of the attractions are better than others meaning that you’ll want to be careful with your selections. All of the attractions listed below are highly rated and reviewed and are considered the more desirable attractions in the area.

Turtle River Falls and Gardens

Created in 2010 by the Science Research and Innovation Limited, the Turtle River Falls and Gardens offers guests a walk through 15 acres of tropical gardens right in town. You’ll also find 14 waterfalls, a Japanese Koi pond, a swimming pool, a swim up bar and grill and a walk in aviary housing various exotic bird species. If you’re looking for a gift or two to take back with you, you’ll enjoy the gift shop right on-site.

  • Adult: US$20.00
  • Child: US$10.00

Island Gully Falls

Formerly known as the Blue Hole, Island Gully Falls is found in the hills of Ocho Rios and is widely known for its beauty. Years ago, the falls where considered private property, but now they are public making them ideal for a day trip. Here you’ll be able to climb the waterfall, cliff dive, rope swing and snorkel. The water itself is a bit on the cold side, but this doesn’t seem to bother tourists as it’s a refreshing change to the hot tropical weather. To enter the falls you’ll need to bring cash with you as credit cards are not accepted.

  • Adult: US$15.00
  • Child: US$10.00

Green Grotto Caves

A natural attraction, Green Grotto Caves offers visitors a look back into history while enjoying a little island adventure. The caves are said to have once provided shelter for the Tainos and after provided safety for runaway slaves during the 18th century. There’s a lot more history associated with the caves as well, history that is detailed during your tour. The caves themselves are interconnected via passageways and chambers and lead to a grotto worth a few pictures.

  • Adult: US$20.00
  • Child: US$10.00

Flower Forest and River Head Adventure Trail

Great for families, the Flower Forest and River Head Adventure Trail is an ecotourism attraction that sits on 130 acres, 40 of which are made up of landscaped gardens. Here you’ll find tropical plants, flowers, birds and a river. Not only is this attraction great for children, but adults as well. It even holds weddings and meetings.

  • Adult: US$10.00
  • Child: US$5.00

Dunn’s River Falls and Park

Most likely Ocho Rios most prized attraction, Dunn’s River Falls and Park provides adventure for all with a beautiful waterfall surrounded by lush forest. Due to its beauty, locals from around the island frequently visit this attraction with their families and friends. Because this attraction is so popular, you’re likely to find it a bit on the crowded side. Even though it may be crowded throughout the day and year, it’s still a great site to see. Just make sure to leave your valuables at home.

  • Adult: US$20.00
  • Child: US$12.00

Best Beaches in Ocho Rios

Because Jamaica is one of the more popular islands of the Caribbean, you’ll find that one of the most common reasons that people visit is for the white sand beaches that line the coast. Even though Ocho Rios itself is small, there are some great choices to select from, meaning that you’ll never have trouble finding a good beach. If you’re visiting during the summer, just be aware that you may get rained out, but luckily the rain usually passes by quickly. This makes it so that you can get right back onto the beach after a quick rainstorm.

Turtle Beach

The closest beach to the cruise port, Turtle Beach is extremely popular with cruise guests, those who fly in and locals, making it a great option for everyone. Because the beach is nestled in a cove, you’ll find that the water is pretty calm, meaning that children will be able to play in the surf without worry of getting tossed around. With that said, you should still pay close attention to your little ones, as there is always a slight danger in the ocean.

If you love the ocean but don’t really like the idea of swimming in it, that’s completely okay. Here you’ll find that the water stays at about knee height for quite some time.

  • Adult: free
  • Child: free

James Bond Beach

Aptly named, James Bond Beach is known as the former home of the James Bond novelist Ian Fleming. It’s also a small beach with a true Jamaica vibe. Here you’ll find lots of locals playing football and a small bar on-site. You’ll also find that the waves are basically non-existent here, making the beach perfect for little ones. This is not a good beach if you’re looking for tourists shops nearby. However it is a great beach for those seeking to find out what Jamaica is really like for the locals.

  • Adult: free
  • Child: free

Best Shopping in Ocho Rios

Because Ocho Rios is a cruise port, you’ll find a pretty expansive list of local shops and vendors to choose from. With that said, it should be noted that a lot of the local vendors are pretty pushy when it comes to trying to get you to buy something. Though you’ll most likely want to purchase a few different items to take back home with you, try not to be pressured into buying everything you see.

Coconut Grove Shopping Plaza

A pretty large shopping area, Coconut Grove Shopping Plaza is a bit more upscale than their competitors, making it more enjoyable to walk through. Here you’ll find local craft items to purchase alongside hoards of cruise ship passengers.

  • Adult: free
  • Child: free

Ocho Rios Craft Park

This shopping area is all about local trinkets that you can easily take back with you. It’s also large with 135 different craft and vendor stalls to look through. Here you’ll find items like place mats, handbags of different sizes, cups, bowls, ashtrays, woven baskets and hats as well as other gift items.

  • Adult: free
  • Child: free

Photos provided by Flicker users steviep187Nigel BurgherGary and Stephane DAMOUR.

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