An Adventure Traveler's Guide to Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Blue Hole, Ocho Rios |© Ishamari Colon / Flickr
Blue Hole, Ocho Rios |© Ishamari Colon / Flickr
Photo of Lyndsey Kilifin
24 March 2017

Jamaica has been drawing adventurers since the Mesoamerican Tainos paddled out of the Amazon basin and built an early settlement close to the site of Ocho Rios. Arch-adventurer Christopher Columbus came three times, landing close to what is now Ocho Rios. He was swiftly followed by an era of pirates, buccaneers, and colonialists seeking their fortune. Fortunately, you don’t need a galleon or an eye-patch to find adventure here these days.

Take in the History

If you want to have an adventure, step off the path and get in touch with the place you find yourself in. Leave the hotels and beach to everyone else. The first place to see should be the place in Jamaica where the earliest known inhabitants lived, the place where native South Americans, Europeans, and Africans met for the first time: New Seville. Just west of Ocho Rios, this historic site contains a reconstruction of a Taino village along with colonial ruins and a preserved great house with amazing views of the bay where Columbus is believed to have landed in 1494.

Address and Phone Number:

Seville Heritage Park, Jamaica | Courtesy of Jamaica Tourist Board

Explore the Rivers

Jamaica is famed for its natural beauty—the mountains and rivers give it its nickname of “land of wood and water.” See both a short distance from Ocho Rios at the Blue Hole. Jump from the high ground surrounding the pool, or from the waterfall itself, before swimming into the hidden cave beneath the plunging water. It’s somehow serene and stimulating at the same time.


Blue Hole, Ocho Rios | © Ishamari Colon / Flickr


Travel down the White River by tube or raft and be chilled by the mountains waters as you float past coconut palms, bamboo groves, and fantastic tropical flora. It takes about 45 minutes to travel the cool shallow river as it winds down from the hills before depositing you on the beach.


Get High in the Mountains

Ocho Rios is bordered on the landward side by lush green hills that form a dramatic backdrop to this pretty corner of Jamaica. Explore the hills on an ATV—travel on mountain trails through dense forest and bamboo, skirting local villages until reaching the highest peak surrounding the town. If you prefer to travel down mountains rather than up them, then perhaps a visit to Mystic Mountain is in order. The tree-top zip-line and bobsled (on rails) are both high and fast enough to give you a rush.

Address and Phone Number:

Ziplining | © sebadelval/Pixabay

See the Coast on Horseback

Organized horseback tours start on rural farmlands before winding through old 18th-century plantation ruins and eventually down to the beach. The journey then heads out into the sea as the horses wade saddle deep in the bright blue Caribbean sea. This is a great way to bring together all that epitomizes Ocho Rios—the lush green rural land, the historic ruins, and the beautiful coast.

Horses on beach | © Spiwritual/Pixabay

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