Friday 19 April, 2019

Jamaica 2018 Carnival: 10 things to do in Ocho Rios

(Ocho Rios Bay: Image: Jamaican Tourist Board)

(Ocho Rios Bay: Image: Jamaican Tourist Board)

While lots of the high-profile Carnival action takes place in Kingston, several big events kick off in the north coast town of Ocho Rios over the Easter Weekend. And if you want to mix feting and exploring, there’s plenty to do in the surrounding area, from lush waterfalls and gardens to idyllic swimming spots and cultural treasures.

Here’s Loop’s guide to some of the great places Ocho Rios and its surrounding area has to offer.

(Image: Dunn's River Falls - Jamaican Tourist Board)

One of the island’s best-known attractions, Dunn’s River Falls is a 180m-high series of cascades over smooth rocks into shallow pools. You can climb the falls (with a guide) and go for a swim in the clear water. Come prepared to get wet and wear good shoes! 

Ever wanted to swim with dolphins? Just opposite Dunn’s River Falls is Dolphin Cove, where visitors can meet and play with these intelligent mammals. There’s also an opportunity to interact with stingrays and explore a jungle trail that is home to iguanas, snakes and colourful birds. Online reviewers praise the knowledgeable staff. 

(Image: Mystic Mountain - Jamaican Tourist Board)

At Mystic Mountain, there’s a raft of activities on offer. You can take a chairlift 700m up the mountain and gaze at the rainforest canopy and diverse birdlife. Visitors can also experience a bobsled ride and try zip-lining for an action-packed day.  

A short drive into the mountains outside Ocho Rios is Irie Blue Hole, a beautiful spot also known as Secret Falls. Guides will help you climb a series of cascades and then jump into clear, cool pools. It’s a fun day out for all ages and, as with Dunn's River Falls, make sure you bring decent footwear. 

If you fancy a bit of adventure, try tubing down the White River. Visitors sit in the inner tubes of large tyres and float downstream, including over some small rapids. The 45-minute trip takes in jungle and lush vegetation on the way to the beach. There’s a drink stop on the way and for those who want the experience from a more secure seat, there is a rafting option too.

(Image: Jamaica's natural beauty - Jamaican Tourist Board)

If you’re looking for somewhere to spend a quiet couple of hours in lovely surroundings, Shaw Park Gardens is a great option. The gardens, very close to Ocho Rios town, are home to tons of interesting plants and flowers, a pretty waterfall and interesting wildlife including banana spiders. There’s a super view of the town.

Are you a Bond fan? Or do you just like a nice beach? Either way, Oracabessa is a good option. This small town a few miles east of Ocho Rios was once home to writer Ian Fleming, creator of British spy 007. He lived in the Goldeneye estate (now a resort) and the town is home to James Bond Beach, where you can swim and snorkel to see stingrays.  

Nine Mile, about 90 minutes’ drive from Ocho Rios, is where cultural icon Bob Marley was born and spent his early years. Visitors can tour the two-room home and see his mausoleum. There’s a tribute band, as well as refreshment options on site.

Not too far from Oracabessa lies Firefly, the historic home of playwright Noel Coward. The hill-top property offers great views and visitors touring the house can see photographs and paintings, as well as a short film about Noel Coward’s life. 

(Image: Ocho Rios Bay - Jamaican Tourist Board)

Or maybe you just want to go to the nearest beach? Ocho Rios Bay Beach has white sand and calm shallow water. There are places to eat and drink nearby and, as a bonus, you might get to watch a giant cruise ship moving into port. Sit back and relax!

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