Welcome to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, the lush tropical jewel of the Western Caribbean! Ocho Rios is located in St. Ann’s parish about 60 miles from Annotto to Discovery Bay on a half-moon shaped cove in the middle of Jamaica’s northern coastline. It was formerly a fishing port and was also known for its banana exports. Now it is a pretty resort town with stunning waterfalls and beaches and interesting colonial-period buildings like the Geddes Memorial Church and the Anglican Church. The town’s business and commercial center is Pineapple Place.
The MSC Poesia will dock in Ocho Rios where you will find taxis available for transportation to the various shopping and sightseeing areas. Unlike Georgetown, Grand Cayman, the main city is not a short walk from the ship, therefore, we recommend that you speak to the Shore Excursion Desk onboard the MSC Poesia to determine the best way for you to enjoy your day on this beautiful island.
Ocho Rios owes much of its fame to Dunn’s River Falls, a much-photographed and much-climbed attraction. It is a joy to be in or swim underneath the refreshingly cool water of the falls, and great fun to make the climb to the top. This is one of the most beautiful and exciting attractions in the Caribbean so please check it out. Another option to consider is the Falls at The Ruins restaurant and the picturesque white-sand beaches that ribbon water’s edge along the town.
Ocho Rios is also famous for Fern Gully, a rocky gorge of tremendous depth, which zigzags for about four miles from the Ocho Rios coast up to the central mountain area of the island. Although it has become rather commercialized in recent years by souvenir vendors, it is still well worth a visit to see the profusion of tropical ferns (over 500 species) and the kind of foliage only to be found in a tropical rain forest. In the deepest parts of the gorge, only faint dapples of sunshine penetrate through the thick foliage and the temperature is about ten degrees cooler.
While you are in botanical mode, check out Shaw Park Botanical Gardens. Among favorite flowers in this mini-Eden are heliconias, white ginger lilies (oh, what a great perfume scent they make!), and red shrimp plants. The latter look edible but they aren’t.
OTHER SIGHTSEEING OPTIONS
Head east out of Ocho Rios and you will come to James Bond Beach. A little farther on is Sir Noel Coward’s hilltop estate (and burial site) known as Firefly. Built in 1941, Firefly was primarily Sir Noel’s painting studio. Sir Noel claimed Sir Winston Churchill was his mentor and inspiration in the art line. Firefly’s simplicity seems almost not good enough for such Sir Noel guests as Her Imperial Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mum, last British Empress of India. The Queen-Empress talked it up so much that daughter Queen Elizabeth II once popped by for a spot of tea. In the last act of Sir Noel’s dramatic life, he had himself buried on a hill about a thousand feet high. Here is a panoramic view of the Caribbean at its prettiest best – literally a view to die for.
Not all that far from Firefly is another literary shrine, namely the home of Ian Fleming. Until his death in 1964, Fleming lived and wrote in his hilltop home he called Goldeneye. That’s where he dreamed up James Bond, named after a real James Bond, the birdwatcher and author of The Birds of the West Indies. The movie Bond was more interested in “birds” of a different kind.
Heading further east you’ll find Port Antonio’s beaches, gardens, waterfalls and pools. This is banana country – made famous by Harry Belafonte’s hypnotic Banana Boat Song. Hollywood film star the late Errol Flynn also loved this part of Jamaica. At one time, Flynn owned a coconut plantation on the island’s touristy north shore. Flynn put river rafting on the list of popular tourist options. How? He simply rafted with banana entrepreneurs shipping their fruit via raft down the Rio Grande, Jamaica’s most important river. He had such a blast everybody else wanted to join in on the fun. Now maybe it’s your turn.
Mallards Beach, near downtown, is the most accessible beach in Ocho Rios, a short drive from the cruise pier. This is a good place to visit if you don’t want to venture too far into the island.
The main beachfront in the Ocho Rios area is the beautiful Turtle Beach, which forms a crescent and has excellent facilities, with many hotel resorts fronting it. Turtle Beach stretches in a westerly direction from the Renaissance Jamaica Grande Resort, all the way to the Turtle Towers condos. As you sunbathe here, the swaying palm trees provide plenty of shade where required.
Jamaica has its’ own currency, however, US dollars are accepted by most restaurants and stores. English is spoken by most of the locals, so communication should not be an issue.
ENJOY THIS WONDERFUL PORT ON YOUR MOODIES CRUISE!!