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Ocho Rios is one of Jamaica's beautiful garden parishes. Here, rest and relaxation blend in with fun and excitement. On the north coast, Ocho Rios is a favourite stopping off point for cruise ships in the Caribbean Sea and the streets here regularly throng with tourists. Once a fishing village, the port now is a firm favourite for water sports including scuba diving.
The international airport at Montego Bay is within easy reach along the north coast highway. The journey takes just less than two hours. There are night clubs, bars and restaurants at nearby Dolphin Cove and Margaritaville.
Translated from Spanish, Ocho Rios means Eight Rivers. It is thought to be a corruption, however, because it is waterfalls and not rivers which are the most striking features of this part of Jamaica. A local attraction is Dunns River Falls where the water is strikingly cool. It is fun to climb to the top and this is a much photographed area.
Ocho Rios is known also for Fern Gully. This is an extremely deep rocky gorge zigzagging from the central mountain area of Jamaica for around four miles to the Ocho Rios Coast. There are over 500 species of tropical ferns and the foliage here is that of a rain forest. Only faint sunlight penetrates the thickest greenery in the deepest part of the gorge and the temperature here drops ten degrees.
Ocho Rios has embraced tourism and what was a small town is now a bustling tourist resort. Hundreds of acres of land was dredged to form building land for apartments, shopping centres and hotels.
Ocho Rios has six shopping malls which sell everything from duty free goods to Jamaican handicrafts. There is a real Jamaican craft market in the downtown area. A huge number of restaurants offer an extensive range of culinary delights to thrill every palate. The Ruins at the Falls Restaurant will cook you a splendid lunch with good house wine and entertainment Jamaican style. There is an internet café at the Ruins Pub overlooking the river. Signature drinks are served by friendly staff from 11am to 11pm.
Tourists can enjoy safari tours from Ocho Rios. These tours are undertaken from jeeps which are painted with zebra stripes and the drivers will take you to the White River or Dunn's River Falls. You may prefer to travel, unhurried, through the timeless Jamaican countryside which is hardly ever visited by tourists.
If cruising is more your style you can take a sea taxi and visit Reggae Beach or Dolphin Cove. These provide snorkelling as well as sunset cruises and dinner. Visitors can swim with dolphins at Dolphin Cove as well as enjoying a nature walk where they can see turtles, snakes, parrots and iguanas and the shark pool.
A Prospect Plantation Tour is one of the oldest established Jamaican tours. This working plantation grows bananas, avocadoes, sugar cane, cassava and pimento and has a new herb garden as an addition to its attractions. For the energetic there is a horseback tour of the property where peacocks freely roam. Another possibility is trail bikes and for those who love golf there is a miniature golf course.
Shaw Park Gardens overlook the sea and are only a few minutes away from Ocho Rios. Over twenty five acres of tropical gardens provide rest and relaxation. There is also a marina at Shaw Park.