Exploring Ocho Rios: Families, Couples and Solo Cruisers

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Jamaica’s north coast is a mix of vacation resorts, famous beaches, tropical rainforests and historic landmarks. Ocho Rios has a diverse list of things to do that you’ll only find in Jamaica. Figuring out exactly how to spend your time in port is usually the toughest decision.

We narrowed the list of things to do down to the best activities for families, singles, couples and older cruisers. Because of the crazy-twisty mountain roads and the distance of the attractions from the cruise terminal, we don’t recommend exploring on your own. All of these excursions can be booked through most cruise lines.

Here are a few favorite activities and things to do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

For Solo Cruisers

Bob Marley’s Nine Mile

Credit Jamaica Tourism Board

Journeying down the twisting road through the jungle to Bob Marley’s birthplace and final resting place is the quintessential Jamaica experience, regardless of how you feel about ganja (which is available, but certainly not part of any tour).

We recommend using one of the ship tour partners, such as Zion Bus, because you’ll be heading into undeveloped Jamaican jungle, and the roads can get tricky.

Average price: $90/person

Duration: 5.5 hours

The Blue Hole

Credit Jamaica Tourism Board

Still somewhat of a secret gem in comparison to Dunn’s River, this place has similar soft-adventure appeal. A guide will take you up the rocks and point out places to jump into the water, swing out on ropes or swim under the falls.

Water shoes are highly recommended. Also, make sure you being extra money tour guide tips and the photographer.

Average price: $90 per person

Duration: 3 hours

For Friends

Horseback Riding on the Beach

Credit Chukka Caribbean Adventures

Advertisements push this as the most romantic of all activities.

It’s not, but it is fun and memorable for reasons you might not expect. You want to be surrounded by friends when bouncing ungracefully on a trotting horse, ducking under low-hanging branches, or wading through the ocean up to your thighs while watching the leading horse’s poop cloud coming at you. Those friends might laugh at you or take a couple of unflattering photos, but they will also be there to hose you off and buy you a drink afterward.

Average price: $100 per person

Duration: 3.5 hours

Dunn’s River Falls

Credit Jamaica Tourism Board

This iconic natural wonder is Ocho Rios’ original and largest tourist attraction. Scrambling up the slippery rocks is moderately difficult, but most people can manage it. You’ll start at the bottom, where the falls meet the ocean, and climb your way up — while holding hands and helping others in your group. You can exit the climb at any time if it gets too tricky for you.

Wear water shoes and bring a waterproof camera unless you want to pay for shoe rentals and photos separately. And ladies, this is the place you want to wear a bathing suit that will stay on and keep you covered.

The main complaint is that large group tours feel rushed in and out, so consider a smaller/VIP tour. Cruise lines typically have multiple shore excursions to Dunn’s River Falls. Some include zip lining before the falls and a light lunch, which can cost about $165 per person with a smaller group.

Average price: $70 for just the falls

Duration: 4.5 hours

For Couples

River Tubing on White River

Credit Chukka Caribbean Adventures

If you can handle a few spins and lots of splashes, this is an awesome light-adventure activity. It takes place in a gentler stretch of the river than the whitewater rafting, and aside from a few adrenaline-spiking moments, you’re mostly just floating along in the sunshine.

Average price: $70 per person

Duration: 3.5 hours

Dune Buggy Safari

Credit Chukka Caribbean Adventures

Moment of truth: Do you trust your significant others driving? If so, this dusty, zippy, bumpy adventure is the coolest way to see the rainforest. If not? There may be some white knuckles and probably a little “OMG, SLOW DOWN!” It’s a memorable time, though, and the river swim at the end will wash all your couple-stress away.

Average price: $90

Duration: 2.5 hours

For Family

Turtle River Falls

Turtle River Falls is one of the few attractions on the north shore that’s good for young children who aren’t comfortable swimming, even in life jackets. It’s a 15-acre tropical garden with a play area, koi ponds, ice cream stalls and, yes, turtles. Children (and adults) can interact with tropical birds in the large walk-in aviary. Take pictures with the birds on your head or arms. There’s also a beach if anyone in the family wants to swim or just get their feet wet.

Admission: $20 adults; $10 children under 10.

Duration: This is an on-your-own adventure so you can choose the amount of time you’re there. It’s close to port so it’s easy to taxi there and back. There are guides at the actual park who can show you around or you can do it on your own.

Mystic Mountain Rainforest Adventures: Bobsled and Zip Line

Credit Mystic Mountain

Some teens don’t want to go to the kid’s club on the ship, but they don’t always want to hang out with the adults. Book an excursion they’ll love. Take them on a bobsled ride down the mountain, and then go on the zip line. For family sightseeing, there’s the Sky Explorer (like a ski lift). And for splashy fun, head to the waterslide and infinity pool.

Average price: $100 per person and includes Dunn’s River Falls

Duration: 4 hours

For Older People

Fern Gully

Credit Jamaica Tourism Board

No hiking is necessary to see the stunningly lush scenery in Fern Gully. Towering ferns have created a natural tunnel that cars drive through. The phenomenon spans only three miles but takes a while to drive, because the roadway is narrow and twisty. Stop, see and smell specific species of ferns, and buy souvenirs from local vendors. Warning: If you’re prone to motion sickness, take appropriate medication before attempting this super-twisty drive.

Price: This drive is usually included in multi-attraction group tours.

Duration: Ranges from 4 – 8 hours depending on the additional tour included in your package

Reggae Beach Club

Credit Jamaica Tourism Board

For those inevitable “He wants to ride on a Jet Ski, she wants to read on the beach” days, this beach club offers creature comforts for a price. It’s usually among the more reasonable excursion tickets: $59 gets you food, drinks, beach loungers and live entertainment. Many people choose the full-day package with river tubing before the beach.

Average price: $55 per person

Duration: 4 hours


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