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Ocho Rios Basics

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Dunns River Falls

Ocho Rios--or "Ochee," as the locals call it--is one of Jamaica's prime tourist destinations. Located in St. Ann's Parish, Ocho Rios has a population of is just over 10,000 people. It's come a long way from the 1940s, when it was just a sleepy fishing village. Today's visitors come to see Dunn's River Falls, bask on the area's beaches and take in a variety of touristic activities.

The mainstay of the economy of Ocho Rios is tourism, and to a much lesser extent, agriculture. Ocho Rios is the largest cruise port in Jamaica, bringing in over 700,000 cruise passengers each year. Resort development began in the early 1950s, and after the Reynolds bauxite mine shut down in the 1970s, Ocho Rios began sprouting all-inclusive resorts in earnest.

Ocho Rios has a tropical marine climate, with year-round daytime temperatures ranging from the low to high 80s F. The dry season begins in December and lasts through April, while the rainy season commences in May and extends through November, with the heaviest rains taking place in September and October.

Ocho Rios map


First Impressions


As your ship makes port in Ocho Rios, one of the first things you'll notice is the lushness of the island. The town itself is set along the beach, and extends eastward in a cacophony of hotels, all-inclusive resorts, shopping malls and tourist-oriented developments. Ocho Rios Bay is marred by the remnants of the Reynolds Aluminum pier, where bauxite mined in the interior was transferred via a 6-mile long overhead conveyor belt to the bay.

Your ship will dock at the Ocho Rios Cruise Terminal, which juts out into Ocho Rios Bay. It's a short and easy walk from your ship into the bustling town. If you're taking an excursion, your vehicle will pick you up at the terminal.

Yeah, there may be (or once were) eight rivers in the Ocho Rios area, but that's not really the origin of the name "Ocho Rios." In fact, it is most likely a British corruption of the original Spanish name Las Chorreras ("the waterfalls"), a name given to the village because of the nearby Dunn's River Falls.

The downtown area of Ocho Rios seems to have been taken over by strip malls that house any number of duty free stores, souvenir shops, restaurants and straw good vendors. The vendors can get fairly aggressive at times, but a polite "No Thank You" often suffices to place the vendor's attention on his or her next customer.

The surrounding area of Ocho Rios is home to the "real Jamaica," with quaint villages, beautiful scenery and farms. If you're a history buff, you may want to take in a visit to an agricultural Estate, a legacy of British colonial farming operations that grew sugar cane and a variety of other crops. Their Great Houses are open for tourists, and most display beautiful collections of antiques and antique furniture.

Jamaican man
© Jamaica Tourist Board/fotoseeker.com

Time Zone


Ocho Rios is on Jamaica Standard Time, which is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Jamaica does not observe Daylight Savings Time. During Daylight Savings Time in the US and Canada, Jamaica is on Eastern Time, while during the remainder of the year, Jamaica is on Central Time.

 

Language


English is universally spoken in Ocho Rios, and you'll find a lot of the locals speak Jamaican patois.


Dealing with Money in Ocho Rios


Currency

1,000 Jamaican dollars

The Jamaican Dollar is Jamaica's official currency, and uses the "J$" sign to denote the dollar amount. Bills are printed in denominations of J$50, J$100, J$500, J$1000, J$5000, and coins are issued in denominations of 1, 10, and 25 cents, and J$1, J$5, J$10, J$20.

As of July 9, 2014, the exchange rate was approximately $112 Jamaican Dollars per $1 US dollar.

Banks and ATMs

In Jamaica, ATMs are called ABMs. There are several ABM machines, linked through the Cirrus network, that can be found in Ocho Rios, both at bank branches and in other locations. Some of the ABMs dispense both US and Jamaican dollars. Here is a list of ABM machines in the area:

  • National Commercial Bank (NCB) has an ABM at 40 Main Street and at the Rexo Plaza shopping center at 148 Main Street.

  • Bank of Nova Scotia: has an ABM on Main Street, at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort, at the Shell station south of the Cruise Terminal and at the Taj Mahal Shopping Complex.

  • First Caribbean has an ABM on Main Street at the Ocean Village Shopping Center.

See our Ocho Rios ATM map for the locations of the above ATMs.

Using US Dollars in Ocho Rios

Since US dollars are widely accepted in Ocho Rios, you don't have to change your US dollars into Jamaican dollars. If you plan to do a lot of shopping, or shop in the surrounding region, it is recommended that you do convert your US dollars into Jamaican dollars.


Weather


Ocho Rios enjoys a tropical marine climate, which is heavily influenced by conditions in the Caribbean Sea. Average daily highs range from 82° to 87° F (28° to 31° C) throughout the year, with daily lows ranging from the low to mid-70s F. The days are cooled by Caribbean trade winds. From December through March, cool "northers" blow when cold fronts bring freezing conditions to Florida.

Like most tropical destinations, Jamaica is bi-seasonal, with a "dry season" and a "rainy season." The rainy season begins in May and extends through November, with the heaviest rains taking place in September and October. The dry season begins in December, and lasts through April. Rain can fall at any time of year, and normally comes in short, heavy bursts of showers, often followed by sun. Ocho Rios receives just over 50 inches of rain a year, on average.

Sea water temperatures range from 79° to 86° F (26° to 30° C) throughout the year, with the cooler temperatures taking place during the dry season.

Hurricane season lasts from June through November, although most hurricanes track north of the island. The peak months for hurricanes are August and September.

Ocho Rios Average Temperatures

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High - F 82 82 84 84 86 87 87 89 87 87 84 82
Avg High - C 28 28 29 29 30 31 31 32 31 31 29 28
Avg Low - F 71 71 73 73 75 75 77 77 75 75 75 73
Avg Low - C 22 22 23 23 24 24 25 25 24 24 24 23

Ocho Rios Average Precipitation

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg, Inches 2.7 1.8 2.3 2.5 5.9 5.5 2.9 5.2 6.1 7.4 5.5 3.6
Avg, mm 69 46 58 64 150 140 74 132 155 188 140 91

Sunshine Jerk Chicken
© Jamaica Tourist Board/fotoseeker.com

Keeping In Touch


Internet Cafes

You can find several internet cafes in Ocho Rios; their rates are reasonable. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Jerkin' @ Taj Internet Cafe, at the Taj Mahal Shopping Centre. This is also a bar and grill, offering Jamaican fare while you surf the net. Open daily, 9:00 am to 10:00 pm, year round. Phone: (876) 974-7438.

  • Sensation, Shop 67B, Ocean Village Plaza. This is a good place to bring your laptop while you enjoy a cup of Jamaican coffee. Open Monday through Saturday 9:00 am to 6:30 pm. Phone (876) 974-7038.

  • Internet Jungle, 12-24 Turtle Beach Road, Island Village. Open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, Monday through Saturday. Phone: (876) 675-8730.

  • Ruins Pub and Internet Cafe, 17 Da Costa Drive, downtown Ocho Rios. Phone: (876) 974-8888

  • Jack in the Box Internet & Video Games, Shop 6 upstairs, Brown's Plaza, Main St., Uptown. Phone: (876) 795-4800.

See our Map of Ocho Rios Internet Cafes & Wi-Fi Hotspots for the locations of the above internet access points.

Cellular Phone & Data Services

Travelers with American cell phone plans should be aware that their carriers will add a variety of international roaming and other charges when their phones are used in Jamaica. Check with your carrier for the precise details.

The Area Code for Jamaica is 876. Thus, to make a call from the US or Canada, just dial 1-876 and the 7-digit number.

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon's CDMA service in Ocho Rios is provided by local partner Digicel.
Data services: Through partner Digicel, Verizon offers 3G coverage on the island.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services pricing and coverage maps.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service in Ocho Rios is provided by Digicel.
Data services: AT&T offers 3G service on the island through its partners Cable & Wireless and Digicel.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage maps.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's CDMA service in Ocho Rios is provided by partner Digicel; Digicel also offers GSM service when using a quad-band GSM phone.
Data services: Through Digicel, Sprint offers 2G coverage on the island. Sprint also offers 3G coverage when using a UMTS-capable device with an active SIM card and global plan.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services pricing.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service is available in Ocho Rios through its partner Digicel.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 2G service on the island through its partner Digicel.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services pricing.

Kindle Connectivity

In Ocho Rios, you can download your Kindle 3G data through Digicel's 3G coverage in the area.

Internet Cafe









Samsung Galaxy S III

Local Holidays & Festivals


Look for the following local festivals, holidays and events taking place in Ocho Rios in 2014:

  • New Year's Day, January 1. National holiday celebrated with dances and festivals.

  • Ash Wednesday, March 5. A public holiday in Jamaica.

  • Good Friday, April 18. A public holiday in Jamaica.

  • Jamaica Carnival (aka Bacchanal Jamaica), March 7 to April 27. Bacchanal Jamaica 2014 will offer over ten weeks of twenty-eight high-energy, fun-filled events. Carnival kicks off with Beach Jouvert and ends with the Road March, a costumed street parade where revelers enjoy soca, calypso and reggae music. The whole island comes alive with costumed dancers in the streets, music and fun.

  • Easter Monday, April 21. A public holiday in Jamaica. This is also the concluding day of the Trelawny Yam Festival, where the locals pay homage to the humble tuber. This free event takes place at the Hague Show Grounds.

  • Labour Day, May 23. A public holiday that celebrates the contributions of workers, and is also recognized as a day of community involvement across the island.

  • Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, June. Celebrating its 24th Anniversary in 2014, this year's festival features over 30 events around the island.

  • Emancipation Day, August 1. A national public holiday that commemorates the official abolition of slavery that took place on August 1, 1838.

  • Independence Day, August 6. A national public holiday that commemorates the independence of Jamaica from the British that took place on August 6, 1962.

  • National Heroes' Day, October 20. A national holiday that commemorates Jamaica's seven National Heroes: Nanny of the Maroons, Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Marcus Garvey, Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley.

  • Jonkanoo, December. Jamaica's Christmas celebration, with party-goers dressed in masquerade costumes parading in the streets in celebration of their West African and slave heritage.

  • Christmas, December 25. A public and religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ.

  • Boxing Day, December 26. A public holiday.
Red Stripe
© Jamaica Tourist Board/fotoseeker.com

Cruise Port Schedules


Ocho Rios is a very popular port for cruise ships making 5- and 7-day cruises to the Western Caribbean, as well as ships plying Panama Canal routes.

As a rule, you'll be given around 7 to 8 hours ashore in Ocho Rios.

In 2014, Ocho Rios is slated to welcome 341,000 passengers sailing on 111 ships, up 11% and 3%, respectively, from 2013. For further information, see our Ocho Rios Cruise Ship Schedule - 2014.

In 2015, Ocho Rios is slated to welcome 329,000 passengers sailing on 104 ships, down 3% and 6%, respectively, from 2014. For further information, see our Ocho Rios Cruise Ship Schedule - 2015.

Granada Church

Cruise Lines Making Port



The following cruise lines will make port in Ocho Rios in 2014:

Carnival icon Carnival
Royal Caribbean
Princess icon
Princess Cruises
Holland America icon
Holland America
NCL icon
Norwegian
Costa icon
Costa
Cruise Ship

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