Your Caribbean vacation is your chance to do it all – especially if you’re visiting Jamaica, where options abound for all sorts of tours and other exciting holiday endeavors. Whether you’re travelling with family or on your honeymoon, the Jamaican north coast town of Ocho Rios may be perfect for you. Get excited to get out and enjoy nature with adventures that include hiking through the forest, river tubing, ziplining, exploring old plantations, and more.
In this post, you will find that we’ve compiled the top 34 things to do in Ocho Rios, that are bound to keep anybody excited about a vacation in Ocho Rios!
Jamaica is one of those places where you can often get unique and tasty things to eat at roadside stops, and puddin’ is a popular local treat. Made over a coal pot as part of local tradition, there are not many great spots to pick up this inexpensive item near Ocho Rios. There is however a small roadside restaurant just outside of Ocho Rios where you’ll find the Puddin’ Man, who makes a fantastic version of this treat. Try different flavors, including potato and caramel, which some people review as the best thing they’ve ever eaten.
Explore, dine, play, party and even shop at Margaritaville in Jamaica. Created by American musician Jimmy Buffet, Margaritaville is all about having a good time, and there are several things you can do while spending the day there. Spend some time at the beach, grab some burgers, pizza, and other delicious bar fare, enjoy Reggae and other popular music, or take advantage of the water trampolines, and other beachside activities. Margaritaville is a great spot for families or groups looking for a fun day out. Some catamaran cruises even stop at this location as part of their regular tours.
Mahogany Beach in Ocho Rios is loved by both tourists and locals. It is most lively on the weekend when you can find bustling beach football matches and barbeques filling the air with the scent of delicious foods. The beach is well maintained, and there is no admission fee. Mahogany Beach is on the small side, but it is a good spot to relax with family or friends, grab some snacks from the beachside shop, and sink into an amazing beach day. Mahogany Beach is about 1 km from the Ocho Rios town center.
Evita’s is a popular spot in St Ann Parish where you can get fantastic Italian food while in Jamaica. Some people describe it as the best restaurant in Jamaica. It’s an open-air restaurant with a great view, so the ambiance adds to the overall experience, and you’ll leave feeling satisfied that you’ve dined at one of the best spots in Jamaica. Here diners love dishes like the Jerk spaghetti, and carbonara with shrimp and lobster. The faces of famous guests frame the walls but know that this restaurant isn’t the least bit stuffy. As it is an outdoor restaurant, you can bring along bug spray if your arms and legs are exposed. You may also be able to get some from the restaurant staff, in a pinch.
The Island Routes Luminous Lagoon Tour is one of the only tours you can do in Jamaica in the evening, and it is one of the most popular tours people try before leaving the island. The glowing waters are a rare attraction, and Jamaica’s Luminous Lagoon is known to glow brighter than other places with glowing water in the world. It isn’t really the water that glows though, but rather the microscopic organisms that give off a phosphorescent blue light when touched. The organisms themselves are harmless, but they do make for a spectacular sight that is not to be missed!
Ian Flemming is a household name in Jamaica, as the man behind the creation of the James Bond series is known to have written his novels on the island. The James Bond Beach, which is near the Goldeneye property, where Flemming put pen to paper for the famous novels, is also featured in the James Bond film ‘Dr. No.’ Although it is not one of the favorite beaches close to Ocho Rios, James Bond beach is as beautiful on the big screen as it is in real life. While there you can try freshly grilled seafood right on the beach while taking in the sunshine. Take lots of photos to share later, you will have definitely earned the bragging rights!
A drive through Fern Gully is truly magical. There are over 500 different ferns along this five-kilometer winding road that is said to have been constructed on an old riverbed. You can do this drive with a guide, but sometimes you’ll encounter locals who are happy share valuable insight about what the ferns are used for, and other historical facts. This is a great place to appreciate the greenery of the island, and there are several places you can stop for souvenirs. Please note that doing this tour with a guide tends to be more informative.
Tip: The roads are narrow in this area and you may have to be wary of speedy drivers if you venture there on your own.
If you’re tired of the mundane and looking for the kind of tour that will keep you on the edge of your seat look no further than the Jamaica Swamp Safari Village Tour. This experience is much more than your typical tour and allows you to get as close as you’ve probably ever been to live crocodiles, and you’ll remain on the lookout throughout the tour for animals, including the gray fox, the Jamaican Boa Constrictor, monkeys, the Jamaican Coney, and more. Ask about visiting the Kanaga House where the crocodile jumping scene in ‘Live and Let Die’ was shot!
Notorious pirate Henry Morgan once used this site as a lookout, but today Firefly in Jamaica refers to the hilltop home of playwright, Sir Noel Coward. It was also his final resting place. The property, a one-bedroom home, still houses some of the playwright’s photos and paintings, and his pianos remain in place. Guided tours are available of Firefly, during which you can learn about the playwright’s history, and about Jamaica’s pirate ridden past. The major highlight is the magnificent view of the coast from this amazing vantage.
Did you know that there are camels Jamaica? Well there are, and while on the island you can pay a visit to Yaaman Adventure Park, which is the only place on the island where you can embark on a Camel Trekking Safari Experience. During the Safari experience, you’ll be immersed in the Jamaican countryside, and you’ll get better acquainted with the camels which are friendly and surprisingly affectionate. At the end of the excursion, participants receive a one-of-a-kind ‘Camel Driver’s License’!
If you’re looking for a great spot to indulge in authentic Jamaican cuisine, try Miss T’s Kitchen in Ocho Rios, which presents some of the favorites in the most scrumptious way. Order dishes like oxtail, brown stew chicken and pork and curried goat with rice and peas. Fish and vegetarian dishes are also available. While you’re there, don’t hesitate to ask Miss T for a Jamaican cooking tip or two to take with you back home!
Golf and the Caribbean go hand in hand, and this is something you’ll be reminded of as you tee off at The Golf & Country Club in Ocho Rios. You can experience this 18-hole, resort-style course with the option of your day getting started at the practice range, which includes chipping and putting greens. If you don’t have golf shoes, you can rent them on site. This tour makes it possible to not only perfect your golfing skills, but also to learn more about Jamaica through your knowledgeable caddy. There’s a restaurant at the clubhouse for dining after your game, which offers delicious Jamaican delicacies.
You’ll find Green Grotto Caves about 30 minutes from Ocho Rios, in Runaway Bay. This is one of Jamaica’s not-so-well-kept secrets, as many people are aware of how amazing these intricate limestone caves are, which carry a wealth of history. They date back to the days of the Arawak Indians and are also said to have been a hideaway for escaped slaves during the colonial era. Spanish settlers who were escaping from the British also used the caves as a hideout. Green Grotto Caves have more than served their purpose in history, and today, guided tours are available, where you can learn more about the cave’s background, and its geological features.
Tip: The pathways to this tour are often slippery and can be challenging for the elderly or people with physical disabilities.
Nine Mile Village in Saint Ann Parish is the birthplace of Reggae icon Bob Marley; it was also his final resting place. This fact has made the area tremendously popular with music fans, and you can do a guided tour of the local museum and the mausoleum where the popular musician was buried. The tour offers an opportunity to learn about the Rastafarian religion, and also about the life of Bob Marley.
Dolphins are super friendly, and not to mention entertaining. This makes tours that include them incredibly popular among families with children. If you haven’t already, try this out for the first time in Ocho Rios; you and the kids can swim with dolphins, watch them play around in the water, dance, and maybe even offer you kisses! Go for a dolphin ride, watch the shark show, meet colorful birds, iguanas and stingrays, go on mini-boat rides, and ride the 40ft water slide. Whatever you do, know you won’t get bored.
Perhaps you’ve driven a Mini Cooper before, but have you driven one with an entire adventure squad in the Caribbean? If not, then you need to try the Island Routes Mini Cooper Half Day Tour in Ocho Rios, during which you’ll get to be part of the creation of your own island experience. Drive yourself to the tour stops, as you follow the guide along in your Mini Cooper. You’ll get to really immerse yourself in the island and learn how to get around to popular local hotspots. As part of the tour you will visit Konoko Falls and stop off at a local jerk spot where you can see how jerk meats are prepared and eat. You’ll also experience a local “farm to table” setting, as well as visit the Puddin Man’ for a treat. Feel free to purchase more of these desserts to take home with you. Overall, this is a super interactive experience you will be sure to love.
Looking for a great jerk meal? Look no further than Scotchies, which has over the years received rave reviews for its jerk chicken, pork, and other items. This place is a must visit if you are in Ocho Rios, and it is advisable to go with a relatively empty stomach so you can try everything there is! If you don’t like super spicy food, you can ask for your sauce to be placed on the side. This casual spot has affordable prices, which means you can order more, and even some things to go!
Expert tip: Want to eat unlimited Jamaican cuisine during your stay? Guest of all-inclusive resort Sandals Ochi can enjoy lunch and an early dinner at the Jerk Shack or one of the other 15 (!) restaurants that are available on the property.
You are nowhere close to running out of things to do in Ocho Rios. Especially not when you can unwind and watch the best of nature pass you by as you take it all in during your river tubing adventure. From a leisurely vantage, you and the crew will have a fun time spotting all sorts of birds, and other critters along the way. The guides in this experience are usually super fun, and sometimes break out in song adding to the liberating and lighthearted experience. The Ocho Rios White River Valley Tubing Safari is a 90-minute tour and includes pick up and drop off to your resort, and refreshments.
A great activity to bring the kids. With a name like Mystic Mountain, you’ll have them intrigued before you even get to this location. Once there, you’ll be able to ride up the mountainside on the Sky Explorer, a chairlift which rises over the rainforest. This affords amazing views of the cruise ship port, and the coastline, and once you’re at the top you can go for guided walks, jump in the infinity pool, go ziplining, ride a bobsled down the mountain, or do other fun activities. If you want to just take in the views again in a slow-paced manner, once you’re done with the activities on the mountain top, you can simply choose to ride the chairlift back down.
Insider tip: Many visitors also combine a visit here with a trip to the nearby Dunn’s River Falls.
You may want to bring along a swimsuit for this tour, as the Turtle River Falls and Gardens located in St. Ann, Ocho Rios has 14 waterfalls all in one place. This is a great activity for families with children. The kids will have a fun time at this attraction which also includes 15 acres of gardens in the mountainside, small pools, hammocks, a koi pond, and an aviary. Your kids are sure to love opportunities to explore this area, and certainly a chance to hand-feed the birds in the aviary as part of the guided tour.
A bicycle tour is a great way to slow things down and take in Jamaica from an even more laid-back perspective. The Island Routes Bicycle Adventure in the Blue Mountains is a cool opportunity to explore the scenic Blue Mountains, which rise to a towering 3,901 ft into the sky. As you cycle through a course on the Blue Mountains, you’ll learn about some of the herbs and plants you encounter, and you’ll even be able to dip into a waterfall, as you inhale as much of the pristine mountain air as possible. This tour includes a Jamaican brunch and is highly recommended.
Shaw Park Gardens is a great place to go if you want to get away from it all and spend the day in appreciation of nature. This is a place for people who just love being surrounded by trees, plants and flowers, who want to find out all they can about the exotic flora and fauna of Jamaica. At Shaw Park Gardens, you’ll finally know what being in paradise feels like, as you take in views of cascading waterfalls, and enjoy the breezy atmosphere. Take lots of photos as you stroll through parts of this 25-acre property with the friendly and well-informed guides.
Turtle watching excursions are popular in the Caribbean, and Jamaica is one of the islands where you can get involved. In Ocho Rios part of the proceeds of tours of this nature go to turtle conservation efforts. The whole endeavor is possible because sea turtles often nest at the same beaches in Ocho Rios, and shortly thereafter, about two months later, the hatchlings break out onto the beach. The Sandals Foundation, the Island Routes Tour Company and local turtle conservation authorities pay special attention to this regular happening to ensure as many turtles as possible make it to the ocean safely. Help monitor turtle hatchlings and sign up for the Island Routes Turtle Watching Tour.
Zipline tours are great for adults and kids alike! Your troupe is bound to be excited about this tour from the moment you mention it to them. The Zipline Canopy Tour will bring you down to the White River Valley. There are 8 ziplines spread across the treetops in this area, the shortest being 150 ft long, and the longest measuring at 820 ft. Zoom through the jungle and experience the thrill of looking down at the White River from the treetops. You can shop for souvenirs after your zipline experience, and it is possible to buy a tasty lunch right on site too.
On this trip you can taste test a spread of award-winning rums, like Rum Fire and Hampden Estate Gold at Hampden Estate, a distillery established in the 1750s. You’ll be able to do an Estate Rum Tour, explore the property and the Great House, and learn about how the rum making process has evolved over the decades. Hampden Estate is about 30 minutes from Jamaica’s cruise hub in Falmouth.
Expert tip: Want to enjoy unlimited premium Jamaican rum at your resort? Both guests of Beaches and Sandals Resorts can order as much as they please during their stay! Enjoy the taste of Appleton Rum and other premium liquors as part of a cocktail, or drink it “neat”.
Leave Jamaica with amplified Caribbean cooking skills. Learn the Flavors of Jamaica through an all embracing tour that is a mixture of food and history. It all goes down at Prospect Plantation, one of the oldest estates on the island. The tour begins under a large mahogany tree, planted in1953 by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. You’ll have a chance to explore the plantation grounds, learn about the various herbs found there, and later, visit the Great House where the cooking session will get underway. Some of the dishes you may learn to make as part of this experience include steamed callaloo, jerk chicken and festivals, with Chef Irie.
Bamboo river rafting is one of the authentic Jamaican experiences you don’t want to miss. Book one of the Marta Brae river rafting tours and you can expect to be greeted with a cold fruit drink, after which you’re free to explore the Rafter’s Village. This exploration includes a walk through Miss Martha’s Herb Garden, where you can learn about the health benefits and medicinal properties of the various herbs. Then, it will be time to get onboard the 30-foot bamboo raft with your guide, who will skillfully navigate the Martha Brae River as you sit back and appreciate the beauty of it all. This tour can be really fun and is a great family bonding experience.
The perfect combination of snorkeling and scuba, without the required certifications, SNUBA® is a great choice for families with children. Try the Island Routes SNUBA® Experience for any easygoing adventure. You won’t have to get any certifications or spend time in the pool practicing; all you have to do is hit the beach and you’re ready to go. SNUBA® is a great way to enjoy the undersea from a different perspective, without the heavy equipment. You’ll breathe through an air-line that’s connected to a raft, which makes it possible for you to dive as deep as 20ft down. Savor this adventure with your family who will not soon forget the amazing experience.
Rainforests in Jamaica are peaceful, scenic, and fun. There are so many options when it comes to doing explorations of this nature, but it can be difficult to choose just one. If you have limited time and want to try a waterfall tour which won’t disappoint, try the Konoko Falls Rainforest Trek. This is one of the more exciting rainforest expeditions on the island where you’ll get a chance to climb a waterfall, visit the botanical gardens, a museum, and a bird aviary, with still enough time for a cooking demo. The cooking demonstration involves learning how to make tasty jerk meals, and it is the perfect addition to a tour that teaches about Jamaica and fulfills the need for adventure.
Picture: All-Inclusive family resort and waterpark Beaches Ocho Rios.
All-inclusive resorts are the perfect choice for Jamaican vacations, as these types of vacation take away from the hassle of trying to figure out how much the entire trip will come to in the end, as you pay for everything in advance.
All-inclusive vacations are also super convenient when travelling with children, as you won’t have to think much about food or drinks, or even entertainment throughout the duration of your trip, especially if you choose to stay with resorts like Beaches. Beaches Ocho Rios has its own water adventure park, inclusive of water slides, and you’ll be able to enjoy all the perks of this 22-acre property, the adjoining white sand beach, 7 gourmet restaurants, 5 amazing swimming pools, watersports and land sports (included) and more. This is the ideal choice for parents who want to enjoy a holiday with their kids, that still affords them some time to spend with each other while the kids are otherwise engaged, and in safe hands.
Looking for a romantic adults-only all-inclusive resort in Ocho Rios? You are in luck! Ocho Rios is home to the enchanting Sandals Royal Plantation and Sandals Ochi, which is the largest Sandals Resort in the Caribbean - featuring over 100 swimming pools and 16 restaurants. The best part: everything is included in your stay! Eat and drink as much as you want, 24/7.
Horseback riding on the beach is a popular activity in Ocho Rios; it’s a bit different from a regular horseback riding tour, as you’ll get to ride along the coast with your horse, and eventually even get into the water with the horses. Some combination tours bring together history and fun, like the Private Horseback Beach Ride which begins with a visit to the Seville Great House Museum. You’ll ride near the ruins of a sugar factory, and into the forest to the grounds of an ancient Taino Indian tribe. You’ll also be able to see some archaeological excavations, and later enjoy some refreshments in a jungle beach hut! Wear sunblock, and bring a hat, swimsuit, and sunglasses.
Dunn’s River Falls is considered one of Jamaica’s national treasures, this is probably one of the most visited attractions in Jamaica, and rightly so because it is such a scenic spot with lots to do. The falls extends across 600 feet, and there are several natural pools that you can dip into, as well as a beach. If you dare, there are areas of the falls that you can climb, hand in hand with other members of your tour group, or you can just kick back and enjoy the views!
Expert tip: As Jamaica’s most popular attraction, Dunn’s River Falls tends to get crowded. It’s best to choose a day when there are no cruise ships in port.
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Ocho Rios, try an ATV tour for some excitement. Book a tour like the North Coast Ultimate Adventure which takes you to one of Jamaica’s oldest estates. You’ll ride through custom trails on either the Mud Buggies which seat two, or ATV's, which are best suited for one person. The next part of this experience is an open-air jitney ride to a hidden river; you’ll catch great views of the countryside along the way. A stroll through a clean and clear river will take you to a private blue hole, and then you’ll be off to Camel Park for some more fun. Saddle up, and navigate through the jungle, and then it’s time to explore a Georgian Great House which is most loved for the incredible view it offers of the ocean at 1,100 feet above sea level. At this point it will be almost time for food, and after a brief tutorial by ‘Chef Irie’ on Jamaican food meal prep, you’ll get to dig into a buffet style lunch. The action-packed day ends on a peaceful note with a walk through a bird aviary.
Speaking of Blue Holes, you’ll want to check out the famous Blue Hole, also known as the Irie Blue Hole before you leave the island. This is essentially a group of natural pools fed by waterfalls in the mountains, and the attraction goes by many names. It is not usually as crowded as Dunn’s River Falls, and it located just about 25 minutes from Ocho Rios. There are guides, and rope swings, and rivers to cross, and it’s a good idea to wear water shoes to avoid slipping on the rocks during this fun-filled encounter.
There are so many things to do Ocho Rios, that it is our hope that you’re able to try out as many things on this list as possible before your Caribbean holiday comes to an end – at least for now!