Jamaica is a popular port of call on Western Caribbean cruise itineraries. The island has three major ports of call, one of which is Ocho Rios. Ocho Rios is believed to be the first place Christopher Columbus landed on his voyage through the Caribbean. Named Ocho Rios, meaning “eight rivers” in Spanish, this fishing village has become one of Jamaica’s top destinations for tourists. Whether you’re looking for beautiful beaches, adventure, history, wildlife, or just lots of fun, you're likely to find a shore excursion that matches your interests here.
For cruise passengers wondering what to do while your ship is docked in Ocho Rios, here are five top activities and adventures:
1. Fly through the Canopy. Cruise passengers have a number of exciting zip line shore excursion options in Ocho Rios. One choice is to head to H’Evans Scent Zip Line Facility for a thrilling zip line experience that sends guests soaring through the treetops. H’Evans Scent has a total of four zip lines including one that stretches a total of 1200 feet, the longest in Jamaica. Guests can also take an adrenaline-filled ride of a 50-foot giant swing and cavort on a large outdoor playground complete with a hedge maze, trampoline, swings and an obstacle course. Zip line courses are available at other locations near Ocho Rios, including Mystic Mountain and Cranbrook.
2. Live the Legend. Visiting Nine Mile, the birthplace of reggae legend Bob Marley, is the equivalent of a Graceland pilgrimage for many fans. On this tour, cruise passengers have the opportunity to learn about Bob Marley's life, see his home, and visit his final resting place. If you choose your tour company well, your excursion will also stop at Jamaica's lush Fern Gully - home to over 200 different species of ferns.
3. Go Rafting on a River. Get out on the water while you’re in Jamaica. Treat yourself to a unique rafting experience and journey down the White River on a 30-foot long bamboo raft built for two. This romantic river rafting excursion is one of Jamaica’s most popular experiences. As guests glide along the water, they can relax and enjoy the area’s lush scenery. More adventurous tubing options are also available on the White River and river boarding excursions are offered on the Rio Bueno River as well.
4. Get Wet in a Waterfall. Dunn's River Falls is one of Jamaica's most famous tour attractions. Take a guided climb over 600-feet up to the top of the falls - definitely a great bonding activity. Wear water shoes with good treads for the best experience. Those who don't wish to make the climb can watch people ascending the falls from a series of observation decks. There's also a beach below the falls for swimming and playing before or after the climb. Many cruise passengers combine trips to Dunn's River Falls with other activities on their shore excursions, including river tubing, catamaran sails, snorkeling, zip lining, horseback riding and more.
5. Saddle Up and Swim. This popular tour takes cruise passengers on a trail ride through Jamaica’s countryside, wooded areas and wetlands. After completing the trail ride, the horses will come to a deserted beach where guests can go on a 10-15 minute bareback horseback ride in the Caribbean Sea. This is a unique and exhilarating experience, one you’ll seldom find outside of the Caribbean. On the return ride, guests can see some of the remains of an old sugar plantation. Guests must be at least 6 years of age and weigh 250 pounds or less.
Many cruise ships call at Ocho Rios, so make your tour plans as far in advance as possible. While some of these excursions can be purchased through cruise lines, a number of cruise passengers prefer to buy their tours through top notch, respected independent shore excursion companies. These companies sometimes provide lower prices, smaller groups, and easy pre-booking options. The best also offer guarantees. Some popular independent shore excursion companies offering tours in Ocho Rios include Shore Excursions Group, Chukka, Island Routes and Viator.