Ocho Rios (Spanish for “Eight Rivers”) is a town in the parish of Saint Ann on Jamaica’s north coast. Locals refer to it as Ochi. Beginning as a small fishing community, Ocho Rios has exploded in popularity over the past decade, with duty-free shopping, a cruise ship port, world-renowned tourist attractions, and various beaches and recognized resorts. Apart from being a cruise ship port of call, Ocho Rios also welcomes cargo ships at the Reynolds Pier for the export of sugar, limestone, and, in the past, bauxite. In 2011, the town’s estimated population was 16 671, or approximately 10% of St. Ann’s overall population. Both the Donald Sangster International Airport (97 kilometers west of Ocho Rios) and the Ian Fleming International Airport serve the town (17 km east of Ocho Rios). In the town’s proximity, scuba diving and other water activities are available.
The term “Ocho Rios” may be a misnomer, since the region does not presently include eight rivers. It might be a British version of the village’s original Spanish name, “Las Chorreras” (“the waterfalls”), which was given in reference to the village’s proximity to the Dunn’s River Falls.
Since 2007, the North Coast Highway connecting Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport to Ocho Rios has been renovated, and the travel now takes an hour and forty-five minutes. The Jamaican government launched a $21 million redevelopment plan for the resort region on 26 August 2011. Since March 2016, when the North-South part of Highway 2000 (whose northern end is at Mammee Bay, a neighborhood of Ocho Rios) was opened, driving and commuting times into the nation’s capital, Kingston, have decreased from almost two hours to just under an hour. The completion of this roadway significantly decreased traffic on the previous route connecting Jamaica’s two cities (via town and into Fern Gully).
The town is home to several restaurants and nightclubs, including Margaritaville, as well as Dolphin Cove, which allows travelers to swim with and interact with dolphins. Another significant feature is Fern Gully, which was developed as a result of a 1907 earthquake that devastated one of the area’s river channels. Fern Gully is a nearly three-mile-long rocky valley where visitors may witness over 540 different species of ferns. In 1907, the British government constructed what is today known as The Fern Gully Highway over the devastated river bed.