Ocho Rios: A pocket guide

Cruise port in the tropical Caribbean island of Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Cruise port in the tropical Caribbean island of Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Known locally as “Ochee,” Ocho Rios is a former fishing village turned luxury Caribbean resort on Jamaica’s north coast. Developed by the Jamaica Tourism Board in the mid-1980s, the town now features a port large enough for cruise ships and a host of five-star resorts. Renowned for its cuisine (eating options range from casual street food to gourmet restaurants), luxury retail stores, and varied nightlife, Ocho Rios is well suited to younger couples, a secluded spot that makes a good base from which to explore the island. (The seclusion of the area and relative lack of tourism has encouraged the likes of Mick Jagger to set up secondary homes here.) Firefly Estate, Noël Coward’s final home, is a few kilometers east and belongs to the National Heritage Trust. Built atop a pirate lookout on a hill high above Blue Harbor, it has panoramic views of the Jamaican coast and is pretty much as the playwright left it; visitors can see Hawaiian shirts hung neatly and a turntable that was no doubt the centerpiece of many a star-studded party. The luscious rain forest that backs the coastline is home to parks and botanical gardens such as Coyaba River Garden and Museum, a mile or so from the town’s center, where you can explore three acres of dense Jamaican plantation and learn about the Arawak Indians that once inhabited the island. Canopy tours, golf, zip lines, and river rafting can be arranged at Dunn’s River Falls, one of Jamaica’s most famous natural attractions, a short distance from the center of Ocho Rios. An excursion to Montego Bay typically combines shopping at the downtown Island Plaza with hunting for traditional artifacts in Coconut Grove.

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