One important thing to know about Ocho Rios and other ports in Jamaica is that the locals can be a bit aggressive as they try to sell you anything from necklaces, woodcarvings, tshirts, and even marijuana. It is also wise to not wear flashy jewelry and leave it in your safe in the stateroom of the ship. The economic downturn has really taken a toll on the locals and they are desperate to sell merchandise.
This does not mean that Jamaica is an unsafe cruise port, it is just wise to use caution so you will enjoy your time there. One recent ploy by the locals is where they will put an article of clothing on a child and then consider it sold and demand money for it. It is best to keep walking and just say no if you have no interest in what they are selling. If you stop and make eye contact, they will often follow you for a bit trying to sell you souvenirs. Cruise Fever is not trying to scare anyone from stopping in Ocho Rios, we just want you to know what to expect before you go. If it was an unsafe cruise port, the cruise lines would not stop there.
The most popular attraction in Ocho Rios is Dunn’s River Falls. DNF is a 600 foot cascading waterfall that flows into the sea. Tour guides lead groups hand in hand up the waterfalls in an experience that is unlike anything anywhere in the world. Due to the wet rocks, water shoes are required and are available to rent if you do not own a pair. Since hiking the falls usually does not take more than an hour, most cruise lines offer DNF along with other excursions as a package. DNF was also featured in the James Bond Movie “Dr. No”.
This picture (click to enlarge) shows the 2012 taxi prices in Ocho Rios from the cruise port. The cruise port has a Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee shop (with WIFI) as well as place where locals have souvenirs for sale. There are also many of the standard shops found in cruise ports such a Diamonds International, Cariloha etc at the Taj shopping center. The Taj is a 5 minute walk from the port and is guarded so only cruise ship passengers and tourist can visit it.
Don’t forget to barter while shopping in Jamaica. The prices are always marked up and you can usually talk the locals down to a cheaper price.
Other popular attractions in Ocho Rios are horseback riding on the beach, swimming with dolphins, river tubing safari, snorkeling, Cool Runnings Sail, Bobsled Jamaica (roller coaster type ride through the jungle), and the Canopy Adventure where you have the opportunity to zipline through the jungle.
For Bob Marley fans, the Bob Marley Bus Adventure will give you the chance to see the culture where the legend grew up and see the true Rastafarian lifestyle. This is an all day excursion and many of the roads that the reggae bus takes are rough and bumpy.
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For a quiet relaxing day at the beach, the Paradise Beach excursion takes you a private beach that is a 5 minute bus ride from the cruise port. Included in this excursion is an authentic Jamaican barbecue that includes jerk chicken and unlimited soft drinks and rum punch. They have a DJ playing reggae music and hosting a few fun beach games. They have a roped off area for swimming and snorkeling. While we did see a stingray and several schools of large colorful fish, you will need to take a boat out to the reef if you want to do serious snorkeling. This excursion is only available through cruise lines.
For those interested in spending the day at a resort, the Sunset Beach Resort & Spa, the Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort, and the Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort and Spa offering day packages for cruise passengers.
There is a long beach in the bay where the cruise ship docks. The beach is not free, there is a small admission charge to use it.
For those wishing to get married while in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort has a beachfront gazebo overlooking the Caribbean where weddings are performed.