Ocho Rios, Jamaica is one of the most popular ports of call in the western Caribbean — and it’s not hard to understand why. It’s home to breathtaking mountains, lush tropical jungle, turbulent rivers, and tranquil sugar plantations. Before you even pull into port, you’ll be sailing through some of the clearest, bluest water you’ve ever seen.
When it comes to things to do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, you’ll never run out of options. Adrenaline junkies can get their fill of ziplining, horseback riding, ATV excursions, and (you guessed it) even bobsledding.
Culture vultures will enjoy sampling the amazing cuisine and taking a tour of Bob Marley’s home. When you’re ready to cool off, go tubing down the river, swimming in the Blue Hole, or spelunking in the Green Grotto Caves. As night falls, relax at the Bamboo Beach Club with your favorite cocktail in hand.
Can you see now why more than four million visitors flock to Jamaica every year? And we’ve only scratched the surface, as this is just a small sampling of what to see in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
Keep reading for your in-depth guide to the best things to do in Ocho Rios. And you can also check the most ideal things to do in Montego Bay, Jamaica too!
In & Around Ocho Rios Port
Until cruise ships arrived, Ocho Rios (“eight rivers”) was a sleepy little fishing village. Now, with two major piers for cruise ships, it’s become one of the hottest destinations in the Caribbean.
Located on the northern coast of Jamaica, the port of Ocho Rios is just a short walk from the main town. Your ship will dock at either Turtle Bay Pier (closest to the town’s shops and restaurants) or James Bond Pier a little further west.
The cruise ship terminal recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. It’s the perfect entry point to the nearby Ocean Village and Taj Mahal Duty-Free Shopping Centers. There’s also a small beach nearby that you can access for a modest fee.
Bonus tip: You might hear the locals refer to their town as “Ochi,” the unofficial nickname of Ocho Rios.
11 Amazing Things to Do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Whether it’s your first cruise or your fiftieth, the beautiful island nation of Jamaica will not disappoint you. Here’s a rundown of the top attractions in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
1. Marvel at the Beauty of Dunn’s River Falls
When you catch your first glimpse of Dunn’s River Falls, you’ll quickly see why it’s been the backdrop in famous movies from Dr. No to Cocktail. If you only have time for one excursion, this is what to see in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
In this idyllic spot, Dunn’s River spills dramatically over a five-story waterfall. The springs continue for another 600 feet through various small pools and cascading waterfalls. Geologists call the area a “living phenomenon” because it’s constantly forming new terraces based on the flow of water and sediment.
Bring your non-slip water shoes and get ready to climb the falls or relax in the warm water — the choice is up to you!
2. Get Your Thrills at Mystic Mountain Amusement Park
The track whizzes through more than half a mile of the jungle at an elevation of 700 feet, giving you spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea. Riders can control the speed with the sled’s handbrake, meaning your journey can be as relaxing or as exhilarating as you like.
To reach the bobsled track, you’ll need to ride the Sky Explorer. This chairlift whisks you through the tree canopy to the amusement park, where you can also go ziplining or bird watching which are detailed in a worthwhile tour.
3. Go Tubing Down the White River
The White River is a bit of a misnomer, as the limestone bedrock filters impurities and turns the water a spectacular blue color. The best way to experience the river is to climb into a tube and enjoy a leisurely float through the forest.
All you’ll need to bring is your water shoes and a waterproof camera — the tour operator will provide the tube and safety equipment. After a long, winding road into the mountains, you’ll enjoy a relaxing float trip from the comfort of your personal tube.
The river is mostly calm, although there are a few stretches of small rapids. Some operators offer bamboo rafting on the White River, so it’s worth comparing the options to see which is more appealing to you. There are some tours that offer more than just White River tubing, with more adventures in the forest.
After floating for a few miles, you’ll return to shore and finish your excursion with some delicious Jamaican jerk.
4. Cruise in a Cool Runnings Catamaran
Named after the movie featuring the Jamaican bobsled team, Cool Runnings is the premier provider of fun-filled mini-cruises along the North Shore.
You’ll glide through the crystal-clear waters in a twin-hulled sailboat (called a catamaran). The unique design of these boats offers plenty of stability and a wide deck to stretch out and unwind.
A daytime snorkeling trip lets you explore the reefs and marine life below the waves. Afterward, enjoy a delicious buffet-style lunch on the pier at Mahogany Beach. Another option is a sunset dinner cruise complete with an open bar and live DJ.
5. Ride Horses on the Beach
Have you ever dreamed of riding a horse down the beach? This is one of the best things to do in Ocho Rios, Jamacia!
Your scenic horseback excursion will take you through a lush tropical forest, sugar plantations, and historic castles. Eventually, you’ll ride out onto the beach, where you have the option of unsaddling your horse and riding bareback in the water.
This is a one-of-a-kind experience you don’t want to miss. If you’re not an experienced rider, don’t worry. There are horses to suit riders of any ability, and the guides will take good care of you.
6. Drive Through Fern Gully
Remember earlier when we said “Ocho Rios” means “eight rivers?” Well, one of those rivers was named Fern Gully — at least, it was until 1907, when a devastating earthquake turned the river into a dry riverbed.
Fast-forward a century or so, and this once-mighty river is now a stunning paved pathway that stretches through three miles of fern forests. Experts estimate that the gully contains over 540 unique species of ferns!
The forest also contains beautiful hardwood trees and plenty of local birds and other wildlife. Enjoy a scenic drive through the gully while you breathe in the cool, clean mountain air.
7. Go Spelunking in Green Grotto Caves
Want to hang out in an ancient pirate’s lair and see an authentic James Bond filming location? Head over to Runaway Bay and sign up for a tour of the legendary Green Grotto Caves.
Armed with a helmet and headlamp, you’ll descend into a mystical world of stalagmites and stalactites, along with natural stone bridges and underground water pools. The caves were first used by the native Arawak tribe, then later used by Spanish settlers trying to escape the British army.
You’ll also learn some of the cave’s more colorful stories, including tales about rumrunners, arms smugglers, and escaped slaves. If you’re lucky, you might even see some of the cave’s current inhabitants — snakes and bats!
8. Swim With Dolphins at Dolphin Cove
Another bucket list item to tick off your “things to do in Ocho Rios Jamaica” list is swimming with dolphins! This is a rare chance to get up close and personal with these gentle but playful creatures.
The aptly named Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios encompasses five acres with a natural cove. Bring your friends or the entire family along and get ready to pet, swim, feed, and play with a pod of beautiful bottlenose dolphins! You’ll marvel at their intelligence while you learn fascinating facts about how they interact and protect one another.
After swimming with dolphins, you’ll also have the chance to interact with stingrays and sharks. If you’re lucky, you might even get appointed “sea keeper” of the day!
9. Take the Bob Marley Nine Mile Tour
Not far from Ocho Rios is a little village called Nine Mile, located in Saint Ann Parish. Music fans will recognize these names and associate them with the legendary reggae musician Bob Marley.
Hop aboard the Zion Bus and ride through the countryside (rum punch in hand) while you listen to famous reggae tunes. You’ll learn fascinating facts about Bob Marley’s life and music, as well as insight into the Rastafarian religion and reggae culture. You check the details of the Nine Mile Tour here.
When you arrive at Nine Mile, you’ll tour the museum and mausoleum where Bob Marley was laid to rest. You’ll also get a guided tour around the iconic village where he grew up. (Note: This tour is not for children, as marijuana is often sold and used.)
10. Swim in the Irie Blue Hole
You probably had to fight the crowds at Dunn’s River Falls, but don’t worry — you can have a similar experience at a “hidden gem” that few know about.
The Irie Blue Hole is located deep in the hills outside Ocho Rios. A collection of waterfalls cascade into a stunning blue pool, transforming the locale into a tropical paradise.
Climb to the top of the falls and jump into the pool below, as it’s plenty deep enough! There are also rope swings all around if you want to pretend you’re Tarzan for a day. There’s also plenty of shade if you just want to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
11. Unwind at the Bamboo Beach Club
Speaking of relaxing, there’s only one place to go when you’re done with your Ocho Rios excursions. The Bamboo Beach Club boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Jamaica.
Enjoy complimentary beach chairs and unlimited food and drinks beneath the swaying palm trees. There’s always live entertainment in the form of reggae, steel drums, or other Caribbean favorites.
Splurge on a VIP package to enjoy your own private cabana away from the crowd. Watch as your chef grills up jerk chicken, fresh-caught seafood, and other tantalizing Jamaican cuisines. After this rockstar treatment, you may never want to return to the ship!
Also Read: Things to Do In Falmouth, Jamaica
Ocho Rios Jamaica FAQs
Now that you know so many amazing things to do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, you probably can’t wait to start choosing your shore excursions. Before you make your final selections, though, let’s answer a few common FAQs about Ocho Rios travel.
You’ll be happy to know that both piers in Ocho Rios are within easy walking distance (15 minutes or less) from the town. The port area has been designed with the traveler in mind and features plenty of shopping centers, restaurants, and duty-free stores.
Jamaica is beautiful year-round, but you’re likely to encounter the best weather between December and March. Of course, this is also the high season when Jamaica receives the most visitors. If you book a cruise during hurricane season (June through November), be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast!
Jamaica is a tropical nation that’s warm, sunny, and humid year-round. Temperatures remain in the 80s during the day and the 70s at night throughout the year. The winter months tend to be drier, while afternoon thunderstorms are common throughout the summer and autumn months.
The Best Things to Do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica: Now You Know
Whether your cruise lasts a few days or a few weeks, one thing is for sure — Ocho Rios will be a highlight of your vacation!
From the moment the ship docks in the beautiful port, you’ll be captivated by the endless things to do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Want to ride a horse down the beach? Climb a waterfall? Explore the jungle? See where Bob Marley grew up? Kick back and relax on a postcard-perfect beach?
Whatever your interests, you’ll be able to tick all these items (and more) off your Ocho Rios travel list.
Speaking of travel lists, how’s your packing going? Before you set sail for Jamaica, be sure to consult our detailed packing list for your upcoming Caribbean cruise. Bon voyage!