Ocho Rios, Jamaica Cruise Port
- Overview of Ocho Rios, Jamaica
- What language is spoken in Jamaica?
- What is the national currency in Jamaica?
- How do I get around Ocho Rios?
- How can I stay in touch with home? Either via Email or phone?
- What are the top attractions and must-sees in Ocho Rios? How long will it take me to get there and to explore?
- What are the best eats in Ocho Rios?
- What are the must-drinks in Ocho Rios?
- Which are the best souvenirs to buy in Ocho Rios? Where can I get them?
- What is the weather like in Ocho Rios, Jamaica?
The Ocho Rios Port Guide was produced in cooperation with the Jamaica Tourism Board. Our special thanks to them.
Ocho Rios (often referred to as "Ochie" by the locals) offers a combination of beautiful beaches and excellent duty-free shopping. Jamaica is a beautiful island with much to see and do. Be aware, however, that the vendors can be particularly aggressive - drugs and prostitution are also a problem and should be avoided at all costs. Haggling is expected on everything from taxi rides to souvenirs.
Cruise ships dock in Freeport, which is walking distance from town center.↑ Back to Top
English is the "official" language of Jamaica, but it has a very melodic, rhythmic quality. Some people also speak "Patois", which is a mix of English and some African languages.↑ Back to Top
The Jamaican Dollar (JMD) is the official currency. As of May 2011, one American dollar is equal to 84.7 Jamaican dollars. Click here for current exchange rates.
Do they accept US Dollars around the port?
Jamaican law requires that Jamaican Dollars are used for all goods and services. However, US Dollars are accepted just about everywhere for purchases and guests can also receive change in US Dollars as well. Credit cards are also widely accepted (Visa & MasterCard only), just be aware that you will not receive a favorable exchange rate when using credit cards.
Where can I get or exchange money?
At "cambios" (official money exchange offices), hotels, and banks. Cambio King Currency Exchange is in the Ocean Village Shopping Center, downtown Ocho Rios.
- Banks closest to Port:
Several banks are located on Main Street Ocho Rios and all the major shopping plazas in town. All are in walking distance from port.
- ATMs closest to Port:
ATMs are located on Main Street Ocho Rios and all the major shopping plazas in town. Some ATMs also dispense in US Dollars. All are in walking distance from port..
Note: Do not use ATMs at night on the island as safety is a concern.
Be aware that oncoming traffic will be coming from the opposite direction (on your side of the road) than in the United States. Don't walk alone, particularly after dark.
Buses can be hailed from anywhere along the road, but they tend to be extremely crowded as the driver is paid per person.
Contract Carriage Transportation can be found at the cruise ship port. Their rates are flexible depending on the number of persons (eg. 1-4.) Taxis are expensive in Jamaica, but rates are negotiable with the driver; just make sure to agree on a price before departing.
Look for taxis with red license plate marked "PPV" (Public Passenger Vehicle), which signifies that they are registered to operate as taxis. Look also for taxis displaying the "JTB" sticker on their front window. These stickers signify that they are approved by the Jamaica Tourist Board to operate within tourist industry/resort areas. Using a non-approved taxi can be very dangerous and should absolutely be avoided.
Driving in Jamaica is on the left and the road conditions are quite poor. Many drivers drive in the middle of the road to avoid pot-holes, so be alert!
Below are a few car rental companies available in Ocho Rios:
- Dhana Car Rental, located in the Holiday Village Shopping Area in Ocho Rios, can be contacted at (876) 953-9555.
- Dollar Rent A Car - Main Street, Ocho Rios (809) 974-5250
- Budget Rent A Car, located half a mile south east of the port (see map) on 15 Millford Rd., can be contacted at (876) 974-1288.
- Salem Car Rental, located on Main Street, Runaway Bay, can be contacted at (876) 973-4167.
The roads in Jamaica are too crowded and unsafe for scooter or bike travel to be considered safe.↑ Back to Top
Telephone access with calling cards is available in the cruise terminal. There are also several Digicell Kiosks on Main Street and on at Island Plaza. Calls can be made from this kiosk for quite a bit less than on the ship. You may want to save all those calls home for when you get to port.
How can I call home? Are there call centers? Where are the Internet cafes?
There are Internet cafes at Island Village Plaza, Island Plaza, Brown's Plaza, Ocean Village and some plazas in town. There are a few Internet cafes listed below:
- John Crow's Tavern on Main Street has free WiFi
- The Coffee Shop at the Port has free WiFi
- Internet Jungle, located at 12-24 Turtle Beach Rd.
- Jack in the Box Internet Cafe, located at Brown's Plaza on Main St. in Uptown Ocho Rios.
- The Coffee Cafe, located at Fisherman's Point Row (upstairs from Ocean's 11 bar).
What are the cell phone rates?↑ Back to Top
What are the top attractions and must-sees in Ocho Rios? How long will it take me to get there and to explore?
There is a visitor's information kiosk at the cruise terminal where guests can receive brochures, rates and information on all attractions in Ocho Rios, Below are some of the favorites:
- Dunn's River Falls, accessible by shuttle from the port area, is one of the most famous waterfalls in the Caribbean. Climb the falls in a human chain led by experienced tour guides. Pause at the "Massage Parlor" and experience the soothing effects of the water as it cascades to the sea. Don't forget your camera - for a small gratuity, the guides will take as many photos as you want with your camera
- Mystic Mountain Ocho Rios Bobsled Jamaica features a 1000 meeter long gravity-drive through the rainforest on custom designed, high-tech sleds. Accessible via the Sky Lift Explorer, the Bobsled is a thrilling ride through dense tropical landscapes and coastal features on sleds that evoke Jamaica's Winter Olympic team. Tickets can be purchased through the Rain Forest Adventure website.
Check out this video that takes you down a bobsled run:
- Chukka Cove, located just 15 minutes outside of Ocho Rios, offers horseback riding through a dairy and cattle farm to the beach where you will actually ride through the waves.
Note: bring a bathing suit to change into - they will not allow you to ride back in the saddle with wet clothes on the return trip.)
Many of the beaches in and around Ocho Rios require an enterance fee (ex. Reggae Beach $9.50,Beach at Dunn's River Falls $12-$15). Below are some of the best beaches in the area:
- Puerto Seco Beach, located 21 miles west of the port (see map, has a very authentic Jamaican feel. There is reggae music playing and local vendors selling food. It is also very close to Columbus Park, which is where Christopher Columbus first set foot on Jamaica. Beach enterance requires a small fee.
- James Bond Beach, named after the iconic character created by Ian Fleming who has a home near this beach, is located 20 minutes east of Ocho Rios. Jet skis and snorkeling equipment is available for rent.
- Ocho Rios Bay Beach, located right in the heart of Ocho Rios, is very popular with cruise passengers because of its location. Ocho Rios Bay Beach is a public beach and attracts people from the surrounding hotels, as well. There is a $3 entrance fee to enjoy this beach. There are a variety of watersports available at this beach.
There are several good shopping options in Ocho Rios. Below are listed a few:
- Ocho Rios Craft Market, located in downtown, offers locally made baskets, hand-embroidered goods, wood carvings, etc. Note: Be sure to negotiate the price, it is absolutely expected.
- Soni's Plaza, located on Main Street, offers high-end shops with duty free watches, jewelry, perfumes, etc.
- The Island Village Shopping Center offers the most unique shop in Ocho Rios - Hemp Heaven. This shop stocks only items made from hemp (which is the fibrous stalk of the marijuana plant), including bags, hats, t-shirts, candles, etc.; Sold with a high degree of Jamaican nationalism and good fun.
- The Tajmahal and Harbor Shops, located on Main Street walking distance from the port, offer a wide array of Duty Free Shopping.
- Sandals Golf & Country Club is a 6,404 yards, 18-hole, par 71 resort style course featuring beautiful views of the see and mountains. Located just 2 miles east of the port (see map), the Sandals Golf Course is the closest to the port. Contact them at (876) 975-0119 for tee times.
- SuperClubs Golf Course at Runaway Bay, is located at the Breezes Runaway Bay Resort & Golf Club just 16 miles west of the Ocho Rios port (see map.) Designed by Commander John Harris in 1960, Runaway Golf Course is a 6814 yard, par 72, 18-hole championship golf course. Contact them at (876) 973-7319 for tee times.
- The White Witch Course, located 53 miles west of the port (see map), is one of the highest rated courses in the Caribbean. The course, which sits on the grounds of what used to be a plantation, is named for the plantation's beautiful but wicked 19th century mistress, Annee Palmer. The White Witch Course is a 6,758-yard, par 71, 18-hole championship course. The course boast a beautiful mountainous terrain and ocean views on 16 of 18 holes. Reservations for tee times can be made online or by contacting the pro shop at (876) 684-0174.
- Cinnamon Hill Golf Course, located 57 miles west of Ocho Rios (see map), is a par 71, 18-hole course with mountain and ocean views on almost every hole of the course. The course is also near the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die" was filmed and the waterfall that the immortal poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning "How do I love thee, let me count the ways" was written. Reservations for tee times can be made online or by contacting the pro shop at (876) 953-2984 or 3981 or after hours call (866) 699-6938 (US only).
- Half Moon Golf Club, located 54 miles west of Ocho Rios (see map), is a 7,119 yard, par 72, 18-hole championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The course is is known for being an excellent walking course (not all courses on the island allow walking). Note that caddies are mandatory at this course. Reservations for tee times can be made online.
Below are a few dive company options:
- Scuba Caribe operates out of the Riu Ocho Rios Resort. Contact Scuba Caribe for more information.
- Garfield Diving Station has 30 years of experience in watersports including scuba diving. Located just to the east of the port, this dive shop is conveniently located for cruise passengers.
- Prospect Plantation Tour - This working farm tour takes visitors by tractor-drawn jitney or on horseback to view fields of bananas, cassava, sugarcane, coffee, allspice and more. Can also choose to tour by horseback or camel!
- The White River Tubing Adventure is a tour by inner tube. This tour will take you through the many tranquil pools and gentle rapids of the White River. Geared towards the young and young at heart, this tour can be a little much for kids that are too young and those a little past their prime.
- The Cranbrook Flower Forest offers a popular picnic destination for families. This beautiful garden also offers lovely hiking trails. You will want to budget about an hour to walk from the central gardens to the waterfalls. Bring rubber-sole shoes for walking on the often-wet rocks.
Use caution as you would in any port city - don't flash money or expensive jewelry, don't walk alone at night and, as a precaution, lock your car doors even when you are in the car. Avoid deserted beaches, and don't leave valuables in your car. Stay alert!↑ Back to Top
Anything "jerked" (chicken, pork, etc.)! Try the Ocho Rios Village Jerk Centre, it's an open air restaurant where the dishes are spicy, but not too hot. Hot spices are presented on the side for those who want to go truly Jamaican. The barbecue ribs are especially good, and fresh fish is perfectly grilled
Now if you are looking for the local "hole in the wall", or in this case "hole in the beach" place to get some of the local fare, try "Lobster Dave's" by Fisherman's Point, which is walking distance from the Ocho Rios Cruise Terminal. This isn't some tourist-washed version of a restaurant, ala Margaritaville. Lobster Dave's, famous for their lobster (go figure), not only has delicious food, but gives you that authentic Jamaica feel in a comfortable, laid back atmosphere. Tell Dave we said hello!↑ Back to Top
Red Stripe is a lager-style beer brewed in Jamaica. Enjoy on the beach, river or just about anywhere.↑ Back to Top
Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, which can be purchased in the shopping area in town or on the tour of the factory, is a sipping rum finely aged in oak barrels. If you are a connoisseur and looking for something really special try the Limited Edition 30 Year Old Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum.
Jamaican art/paintings by local artists and handmade crafts make great souvenirs. Check out the Island Plaza downtown for a good selection.
Duty free jewelry is always popular when visiting the islands. The Swiss Stores, in the Ocean Village Shopping Centre sells jewelry and all the big names in Swiss watches. The Rolex watches at this stor are real, not like the fakes offered by the hustlers on the street.↑ Back to Top