I’ve still yet to visit Jamaica! So this is a guest post from Monique Solomon at www.iriediva.com.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica is a charming town on the island’s north coast that’s a beautiful flurry of local and visitor activity throughout the year. Visitors stream through the cruise port or travel in from resorts all over the island to view and experience the town’s famous natural attractions. Here’s an idea of what to do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
You’ll want to visit Ocho Rios even for a day to experience the bustling charm of this town in which the famous reggae icon Bob Marley was born.
In fact, his childhood home was turned into a museum. You can visit it and see where Bob wrote many of his famous songs. The tour can be booked from any hotel or you can simply catch a cab in Ocho Rios square and asked to be taken to his Nine Mile home. The tour takes you through the house where his clothing, international awards and relics have been collected. Fans around the world have donated to the museum. There’s also a gift shop for original items from the Bob Marley line, records, and other souvenirs on property plus a cafe with some delicious vegetarian food.
Where to Eat in Ocho RiosWhen researching for a trip to Jamaica you’ve likely made a list of local Jamaican food to try. For the most delicious authentic meals, ask for Miss T’s Restaurant which is on a little road off Main Street that runs through the town. Here, homestyle dishes like oxtail with rice and peas, curry goat, brown stew chicken and escoveitch fish are almost always on the menu.
Miss T’s has won local awards for her authentic dishes that remain consistently delicious, attracting locals and the curiosity of visitors wanting to try traditional Jamaican dishes.
Scotchies is heralded as one of the best spots in Jamaica to grab authentic jerk chicken and should definitely make your list of places to visit for good jerk. A laid-back casual dining experience in an outdoor environment awaits with jerk pork, chicken and fish on offer with additional goodies and sides. The Ocho Rios branch is the biggest one and offers lots of seating, a bar to refresh and catch a game on the big screen and reggae music lightly humming through the speakers.
For a fancier fare, head to the hills and dine at Evita’s, an Italian restaurant overlooking the town. Owned by a charming Italian lady who has lived in Jamaica for several years, this restaurant has been a mainstay on the Ocho Rios popular scene and offers a delicious menu of traditional Italian dishes infused with Jamaican flavours.
If you want to stay on the beach while enjoying a fancier environment, then Christopher’s, the restaurant at Hermosa Cove will provide this for you. It’s a quaint spot at this artistic boutique hotel overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The restaurant serves up scrumptious international cuisine in an architecturally delightful surrounding right on the beach.
What to do in Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios is home to Mystic Mountain, Dolphin Cove and Dunn’s River Falls among other popular attractions and activities. These are all very well known touristy destinations but the one that you must visit is the waterfall. This natural water feature cascades gently enough to be climbed for several hundred feet and provides refreshing natural pools along the way in which you can take a dip while snapping photos of your enchanting surroundings. Water shoes are a must to prevent slipping on the falls and can be purchased on the grounds if you forget your own.
If you’re keen on avoiding the crowds at Dunn’s River Falls, Konoko Falls is another option in the city. It doesn’t empty out to the beach below like Dunn’s River, but these falls aren’t lacking in beauty or adventure and will be just as satisfying. The grounds were once inhabited by the Tainos, some of Jamaica’s very first inhabitants and there is now a museum on property dedicated to them. Tour guides will take you through this museum, along the pristine and gorgeous botanical garden and onward to the waterfalls. Feed the birds, take pictures with the iguanas running around (hold one if you’re brave enough) climb the falls and then enjoy a delicious meal at the jerk pit and bar on property. The grounds are large enough for groups or families to enjoy a game of touch football etc on the grass.
If you’re wanting to simply sit back and relax on a beach in Jamaica, some of the islands best are in Ocho Rios. It’s an entirely different vibe at a public beach than it is at a private resort-guests-only beach and should make your list of things to do just to soak up some of the island’s culture. Whether at Priory Beach, Reggae Beach or Ocho Rios Bay Beach, you’re bound to find fish huts selling fresh fish from the day’s catch cooked to your preference right on the beach as well as vendors selling various treats such as oysters, peppered shrimp, coconut candies and even handmade sandals and jewelry.
Music is often blaring from a speaker somewhere and a game of football (soccer) will probably happen on the sand while families and visitors lay around on lounge chairs, blankets or beach towels. The beaches in Jamaica are mostly dotted with coconut trees, almond trees and sea grape vines providing ample shade from the glaring sun.
Where to Stay in Ocho Rios
One of my favourite places to recommend staying in Ocho Rios is the Jamaica Inn. This lovely boutique hotel sits on glorious golden sands and a beach so calm and clear that you’ll be amazed. They’re also a spot that the turtles love and during hatching season you can see hundreds of baby turtles coming up from their holes in the sand and heading down the beach into the sea.
For a more budget-friendly option, the Kaz Kreol Beach Lodge is right on the beach. It is quaint and comfortable and offers free breakfast with your room.
If you’re more of a whole place to yourself kinda person, book an apartment in the Turtle Tower which is also right on the beach, very budget-friendly and smack-dab in the city centre.
You’ll find that because of its popularity, the town of Ocho Rios is a melting pot of cultures with visitors from all walks of life traversing the streets while locals go about their daily lives. A lot of the town’s commercial activity is based around tourism and all the amenities you may require can be found in the town. Those who seek nightlife, quiet time, eco-adventures, romance, family fun or adrenaline filled vacations will all find what they’re after in this small but robust beach town in Jamaica.
Monique Solomon is a Jamaican lifestyle blogger at www.iriediva.com where she shares the best of her island tropical paradise with her readers. She’s also into DIY beauty, fashion and personal development and shares her take on these topics over on her blog and social media. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.