Holidays to Ocho Rios are a bona fide Jamaican blockbuster. The star is the Dunn River Falls, but there’s a knock-out supporting cast of tropical beaches, craft markets and reggae nightspots.
The name Ocho Rios may not immediately ring a bell, but the photos certainly will – especially when it comes to its star attraction, Dunn River Falls. This waterfall has starred in just about every TV advert and holiday brochure for Jamaica, and on its own is enough to lure you here. But add slick shopping malls, jaw-dropping beaches, and white-water rafting, and you’ll understand why this big, purpose-built resort is one of the island’s most popular.
The town, nicknamed Ochi, has the sort of beaches you’ll only find in the Caribbean. Curled around the scenic bay is Turtle Beach. This sweep of gently shelving white sands is fringed with coconut palms and backed by upmarket hotels. A cruise ship pier lies at one end, a smaller jetty for watersports at the other, and there are plenty of drinks shacks dotted in between. Mahogany Beach, which has small reef you can snorkel, is a five-minute taxi ride away. A little further still is Reggae Beach, the most secluded of the lot.
If you had to locate Ochi’s heartbeat, it would have to be Main Street, a busy thoroughfare lined on both sides with restaurants, fast-food chains, shopping centres and craft markets. Tourists who disembark from the cruise ships head directly to Island Village – a charming open-air mall modelled on a rural Jamaican village, which is also home to a great reggae museum. And at night, Main Street is also the focal point for Ocho Rios’ exuberant nightlife.
Dunn River Falls
This spectacular 600-foot waterfall is one of the country’s national treasures. It cuts through a dense emerald forest and gushes out at an ice-white beach. There’s only one safe way to the top of the waterfall and that’s by forming a human chain, though expect to get drenched on your way there.
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