Revered by travellers for its natural beauty, Ocho Rios—a port on Jamaica’s northern coast—appeals to everyone from couples to families. It’s full of upscale resorts, beckoning beaches and ties to musician Bob Marley and James Bond creator Ian Fleming.
For couples: Couples Sans Souci
With a name that translates to “without worry,” the adults- only Couples Sans Souci delivers on its promise. Waterfalls, historic mineral springs, 150 luxury sea-view suites, plenty of activities for couples and romantic beach dining will leave you feeling like any worries you had are miles away.
For nature adventurers: Jewel Dunn’s River Adult Beach Resort & Spa
Kayaking, sailing, pitch-and-putt golf and tennis are part of the all-inclusive package at Jewel Dunn’s River Adult Beach Resort & Spa. Snorkelling, scuba diving and adventure tours are available for a fee. Six restaurants, including Mediterranean-inspired Moonstone Restaurant, five bars and lounges and a spa round out the resort’s amenities.
For culture hounds: GoldenEye
Fleming hosted royalty and cultural icons at his former abode, GoldenEye, which is now one of Jamaica’s most-acclaimed resorts thanks to the vision of former Marley producer Chris Blackwell. Its 49 villas, cottages and beach huts are set on 52 acres of land, offering guests plenty of privacy.
For families: Beaches Ocho Rios
With a waterpark complex, onsite activities with Sesame Street characters, a supervised kids camp and a teens club, Beaches Ocho Rios goes well beyond building sandcastles on the beach to keep kids busy. Its 222 family-sized rooms and suites make a homey base for days spent enjoying the sun and sea.
Things to Do
For couples: Go to James Bond Beach
A 25-minute drive to the east of Ocho Rios is James Bond Beach in Oracabessa, named after the literary creation of former island resident Ian Fleming. This retreat features quiet coves, a beachfront bar and the occasional live concert and is just far enough removed from the town’s cruise-ship bustle.
For nature adventurers: Climb Dunn’s River Falls
Dunn’s River Falls (shown) draws visitors by the busloads (try to schedule a visit for a light cruise-ship day or an early morning). You’ll get drenched as you climb—alone or with a guide—the limestone rocks of the 180-foot falls. Stop along the way to hang out in the lagoons and pools and admire the power of this natural wonder.
For culture hounds: Tour the Bob Marley Museum
Reggae legend Marley was born in Nine Mile, a 75-minute drive from Ocho Rios. Visit his humble boyhood home and its themed bar and grill, both are filled with photos and exhibits that pay homage to his music and spirit of peace. You can also see the mausoleum where the musician was laid to rest.
For families: Have a day of fun at Mystic Mountain
Watch the movie Cool Runnings with the kids before going on the bobsled ride at Mystic Mountain (shown), an adventure park in the rainforest. Other thrills include a chairlift up the mountain, a zipline through the lush canopy, a slide snaking into a swimming pool, and views of the unique tropical vegetation from Lookout Tower.
For couples: Evita’s
Perched hillside overlooking the city, Evita’s restaurant beautifully fuses Italian and Jamaican cuisine. Romantics can share the “One Love” penne alfredo, named after Bob Marley’s reggae classic, which is localized with jerk seasoning and callaloo—a popular Caribbean dish made with leafy greens.
For nature adventurers: Christopher’s
If your palate seeks adventure, Hermosa Cove’s Christopher’s uses Jamaican culinary traditions (think ackee fruit, jerk seasoning, scotch bonnet peppers and Blue Mountain Coffee) to create bold fusion dishes such as the curried goat ravioli and coffee-glazed ribs. Dine on the open veranda with sea views and breezes.
For culture hounds: Miss T’s Kitchen
To experience authentic Jamaican cuisine, head to Miss T’s Kitchen in downtown Ocho Rios for specialties such as curried goat—it turns your fingers yellow as you eat it—and oxtail stew. Brightly decorated and a little funky, Miss T’s feels like you’re in a local’s home eating hearty, from-scratch cooking.
For families: Juici Patties
The Jamaica patties served up at Juici Patties on Main Street in Ocho Rios are sure to become your kids’ new favourite fast food. While the ground beef variety can be a little spicy, there’s also chicken, cheese or veggie options to choose from. The menu also includes soup and meatloaf.