Amara Amaryah | travel + books + poetry, always poetry. a platform for story-telling, visuals, positive self-talk and empowerment. |what to do in jamaica ocho rios.
this time last month i was living my truest life in the caribbean. i’m writing this post under my double duvet and accompanied by my hot water bottle but my heart is still warm. if nothing else. travelling to jamaica has been a huge highlight of 2019. not only was everywhere scenic but it felt like the trip i needed my whole life. my good deed for the year will be persuading you to spend all your money visiting in 2020. yes. the time has come for me to share my itenary for things to do in jamaica, ocho rios.
dunns river falls|jamaica ocho rios
dunns river. it is most likely the attraction you associate with jamaica or ocho rios itself. it is definitely worth the hype. you can climb the falls, walk around the gardens, buy food and gifts and eat on the beach where the river feeds out into the ocean. a perfect day out.
- I’d visit this within days 1-3 of your trip.
- You can easily spend 3 – 6 hours for the entire dunns river experience.
- Entry is $20 USD for adult tourists ($12 USD for children)
- In the foodcourt you can eat for around $10-15 (less if you’re nice, chat and smile)
- the souvenir stall holders will hustle. even locals say it is hard to walk through but you can’t avoid it as you need to walk through to get to the food court. be nice, it’s hard in JA and you’re a tourist, but be reasonable, go and eat first and don’t make promises to come back if you can’t keep them.
- buy art from Malcolm. he is talented and has some interesting stories to tell.
bamboo bay beach |
my second favourite beach that i visited in ocho rios. bamboo bay beach is connected to the private beach by RUI hotel. it has a lot of american style food rather than jamaica food which is annoying. you also are restricted to a certain section of the beach as the rest of the beach is owned by nearby hotels. but it is gorgeous and peaceful and you’re never lonely. some of my funniest conversations at this beach, definitely recommend.
- I’d visit within the first two days of your trip
- food (burgers and fries) mainly $10-15 USD.
- I’d bring an extra $10 USD for a chair and there are small boutique shops available at this beach.
- you’re not allowed to bring your own food to this beach.
mahogany beach |
third favourite beach. such a scenic one though. i ended up here because an excursion i showed up to closed early so my driver brought me here instead (because being me i had planned each activity per day so just switched the days). nice stop maybe if you’ve got a few hours to spare and want a drink and a teeny bit of sea and sand. the beach is small, i gotta not oversell. it is mainly a stop for the ships but that does mean that it is desolate. people stop for drinks. lovely little tourist shop and it is all on it’s own with no competition so the vibe is less pressure.
- I’d visit in the final days of your trip
- 1-3 hours for a few drinks. not really somewhere you go for a swim.
- I got food for $1000 JMD (wouldn’t recommend food) but from what I remember drinks looked reasonably priced.
river rafting | white river
so i came to jamaica to do this, floating on my throne. it honestly did not let me down. no words to describe how uniquely breathtaking this activity is. in jamaica the main river rafting spots are martha brae and rio grande. i originally wanted to go to rio grande as it seemed beautiful and was near the parish that my grandad was from. i chose to stay local as it would cost me less (travel wise) and white river really lived up to it’s glory. you can also go river-tubing with a group down the white river. but if you’re an empress and river goddess like me then do not second doubt the river rafting choice.
- the trip should take 45-60 minutes
- it costs about $7150 JMD/ $55 USD
- it is quite out of the way without anywhere to lounge about or sit for food so make sure your driver knows exactly when to pick you up.
- if you go on a clear day when there was no rain the night previous the water will be turquoise and beautiful apparently
- you could make a longer day out of it by doing river tubing.
turtle river falls | jamaica ocho rios
my favourite day was spent wandering around the turtle river falls. this attraction is massively under-rated. it is barely listed as a top thing to do in ocho rios. maybe because dunns river exists 3 minutes up the road. the history behind turtle river falls and the journey the grounds has had is so inviting. i had a tour guide and the entire park to myself to roam (ask for Jordan when you go). i’ll revisit this in later posts explaining why I’d choose turtle river parks over dunns river anyway. for now, know that i had the most peaceful experience.
- I’d save this for middle of your trip after dunns river for comparison and to revamp mid-holiday excitement (days 4-5)
- it is $20 USD entrance.
- if you call up and they’re expecting you, they normally prepare a hot meal for you if you ask for it. otherwise there is only a snack machine if you want to buy food.
- there are EIGHT named waterfalls. you can climb some of them or you can just enjoy the majestic views.
- book a tour guide (no added cost) and they’ll explain the history of each fall, show you around the nature parks and even let you feed the birds.
- you could legitimately spend all day wandering. it is that good.
kanoko falls | jamaica ocho rios
konoko falls wasn’t originally on my list. again, something that wasn’t typically listed as an attraction worth seeing. my driver recommended I visit. he really sold it as a whole day outing. when you arrive you’re assigned a tour guide and they show you around the gardens. the grounds used to have connections to slavery and is considered to be the land the Taino people first settled. so there is a lot of energy onsite. I really like konoko falls because a lot of Jamaicans visit and explore, more so than dunns river I found. it was also nice as before you climb the falls you go through the history, see the parks and see the animals onsite. admittedly not the greatest that they are caged. the onsite bar and restaurant was GLORIOUS. had some great ital to get my energy up after climbing.
- visit mid – end of your trip. I’d say get there in the afternoon when it is not too busy but popular and stay until closing (12- 4pm). if it were open longer I would stay. I’d live there.
- $20 USD entry.
- they were a little unreliable with opening times but it might just be the day I visited. as I mentioned, I ended up at mahogany beach because konoko falls closed an hour early unexpectedly.
- food is good. my meal cost me $1000 USD and it was nuff.
- as I said, it is a whole experience. once you climb the falls, head to the top and over look the Ocho Rios area from 150 metres above sea level.
Ocho Rios bay beach
favourite beach of all the ones i visited. if you are looking for relaxation and water sports you’ll find what you’re looking for. this is the largest beach, cheap entry and good jamaican vibes. music will be playing. coconut water will be served and the views will keep you preoccupied. personal tip, take a boat tour around the Ocho Rios area if you can, it’s the one thing I actually regret not doing to complete my trip
- this is the kind of beach you can visit regularly. I spent my last day here but I could’ve easily begun here too.
- entry was $200 JMD (about a pound). a deck chair was $600-700 JMD
- there is a bar at the beach but no restaurant, bring food beforehand
- they’ll offer you coconut water when you arrive, take it. (about $200 JMD)
Ocho Rios craft market
visited the craft market in Ocho Rios jamaica because it is a chance to actually support local Jamaicans. it is full of beautiful souvenirs, a lot of it is specific to Jamaica and Jamaican craftsmanship. support even though and directly because you can buy these souvenirs at your excursions. tourists tend not to attend the craft market and so Jamaican stall holders struggle to make ends meet. I enjoyed going, not only for the shopping but also because it was responsible for some of the most unforgettable moments and conversations of the trip.
- I’d go towards the end of your trip when your money is genuinely running out so to make you are a better barterer. hold yourself in the process of bartering, but don’t be too tight. I won some, I lost some but it is better than the convenience of buying them at the excursion stores.
- free entry.
- visit anytime time of day – before 6pm.
- there are only a handful of tourists who visit the market daily so it might feel like everyone is depending on you to buy something. take your time, be polite and go with understanding.
bob marley house | nine mile
this is a little bit of a cheat as it is a drive out of ochi and up in the hills of st ann. nothing more beautiful than the drive up the hills. It takes over an hour to get from town centre in Ocho Rios to Bob Marley’s house. it was well worth the journey. the bob Marley tour gives you access to the house bob Marley was raised in. It is where bob marley is buried alongside his mother and other relatives. it is a strange experience, you see where he would rest, the view he would see in the morning, the kitchen his mum would cook in. tour guides are something too – full of Jamaican spirit and really informative about little details and philosophies. the tour ends with drummers performing.
- the entry is $20 USD. bring some money to tip the tour guide/drummers at the end too.
- I’d recommend visiting on a weekend. Sunday felt like the best day to go as it was so slow and seeing Jamaican in church mode on a Sunday is something quite special too.
- drinks are amazing and you spend some time in the bar before your tour is organised. Drinks are reasonable (get the Marley shot or the rum punch)
- you are able to buy and smoke marijuana throughout the tour, in fact it is encouraged (at every possible point of the tour lool)
- when you get nearer to the tomb of Bob Marley you’re expected to take your shoes off.
- my taxi journey to nine mile was $130 USD
things i didn’t do
- blue hole: i didn’t visit the blue hole/blue lagoon on this trip. my reasoning was that i wanted to save some things to do when I do come back with others. another big factor is the fact that I am not a good swimmer (at all) and i felt like i was enjoying the rivers and falls enough as it was. i couldn’t pluck up the courage to jump into the blue hole as most do so i gave it a miss. everybody told me to visit though, if you can do go.
- mystic mountains: again, something I’d like to save for when I return. it took a lot not to book this excursion as the luscious green is my favourite part of jamaica. zip lining through it all would’ve been a dream. next time!
- rose hall : I missed out rose hall and any of the plantation grounds because it was enough being on the land. I didn’t want the energy or the surprise trauma so I happily left this one. I hear that it doesn’t have an negative feel. rose hall is known for the legend of the white witch which is what draws a lot of people (not me) to visiting.
- dolphin cove : if you’re trying to swim with the dolphins then it’s all yours. again, not the greatest swimmer so it never made it to my list. it is very close to the town city and didn’t seem to be overly busy whenever we drove past it which is good for you able swimmer persons.
these are all my itenary tips for visiting jamaica ocho rios. I hope I’ve convinced you to visit my country and spend all your money in paradise. comment below any other things to add to the itenary or any Ocho Rios tips.
thanks for reading what I write. Yah bless.