Ocho Rios, today, is Jamaica’s and the Caribbean’s leading cruise ship port and a leading stop-over destination for tourists.

The name Ocho Rios, which is of Spanish origin, translates to Eight Rivers in English and came from a time when the Spanish occupied Jamaica, before being driven off by the English in the mid-1650s.

Fast forward 300 years and by then American bauxite company, Reynolds, had built a pier at the western end of the town to ship alumina to the United States.

For the next three decades, bauxite remained an important money earner not just for Ocho Rios and the parish of St Ann but Jamaica as well.

When Reynolds closed operations in the 1980s it meant a big blow for the economy of the town, which was then forced to rely solely on the tourism sector which, over the years, had been seen as a secondary foreign exchange earner.

While the two sectors, tourism and mining, meant employment for the masses, the skill of fishing which had preceded both and had characterised how Jamaica and the world saw Ocho Rios in the early years, continued as the main source of livelihood for lots of families.

But Ocho Rios, blessed as it is with natural beauty, was seen by many as potentially a top tourist destination. As a result, investments in the tourism product for the town picked up momentum.

The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) through its agency, St Ann Development Company (SADCo), which was established in the 1960s, played a major role in getting the town ready for the development of tourism that was to come in the following decades. Beach land was reclaimed and developed, the harbour dredged and the area zoned for development of hotels and resort apartments.

Hotels that were built decades earlier, such as Jamaica Inn, Silver Seas, Shaw Park and Plantation Inn, among others, were joined by newer properties that improved the tourism landscape.

Some larger properties such as Mallards Beach and Americana (that later merged to form Jamaica Grande and known as of 2016 as Moon Palace Jamaica Grande), meant more tourists to the town.

Local hotel brands such as Sandals, SuperClubs and the pioneering Couples played a pivotal role in helping Ocho Rios attain and maintain worldwide appeal as a tourist destination.

Other smaller properties such as Pineapple Court, Hermosa Cove, Village, Mystic Ridge, Fisherman’s Point, Sand Castles, Rooms, among others, also helped to boost Ocho Rios as a premier tourist destination.

One major development that also played a significant part in catapulting Ocho Rios to the top as a destination was the opening of the Ocho Rios cruise ship pier in the early 1980s.

It meant cruise ships with thousands of passengers could visit the town on a regular basis. It meant too, that there had to be something to attract them, so much more attention was paid to the attractions that were available and new ones developed.

Ocho Rios’ premier attraction, Dunn’s River, had by then garnered world wide appeal and its popularity grew even further with the opening of the pier, as tourists began descending on the attraction in droves.

New attractions such as Dolphin Cove and Mystic Mountain were to come on stream in the ensuing years.

Shopping also developed with several shopping centres catering to the in-bond shopping needs of tourists being built. Today, Ocho Rios boasts plazas such as Soni’s, Taj Mahal, Harbour Shops and Island Village that cater almost exclusively to tourists.

The craft industry, the transportation and banking sectors, farmers and the remaining fisher folks, too, also began benefiting directly from the boost in tourism in Ocho Rios.

The boom also brought in international brands. Of significance, Burger King opened its first restaurant in Jamaica in Ocho Rios in 1985. KFC and Pizza Hut are also in Ocho Rios.

With development came congestion and this forced the government, after lobbying by the St Ann Chamber of Commerce, to build a bypass road for Ocho Rios, which was built in the mid to late 1990s.

Over the past two decades, Ocho Rios has seen significant development that has completely removed the “quiet fishing village” tag to a more appropriate label of leading tourist destination.


Try Ocho Rios’ latest tour package that’s different, exciting and totally fun! Try – “Taste of Jamaica Authentic Tour”

This tour takes you from Ocho Rios, up through the world-renowned Fern Gully, through the beautiful, rolling hills of rural St Ann before ending on the beach in Priory. Enjoy eco sightseeing, tour a working coffee plantation, beach cooking featuring authentic Jamaican cuisine, Jamaican music and dance lessons just for the fun of it!

The Jamaica Gleaner quotes Georgia Black, a vacation planner at Moon Palace Jamaica Grande hotel in Ocho Rios, as saying: “This is the perfect tour, I love it, I love it!” Visit www.tasteofjamaicatours.com for more information.

Apart from the Taste of Jamaica Tour, Ocho Rios is filled with things you can do, things you can see and most of all, places to go. With a plethora of attractions in this resort town, it’s sometimes difficult to decide where to go on any given day. Water attractions, plant life, animals – choose the theme that suits you best on the day and pick from any of the several attractions available. Ocho Rios is the number one cruise port in the Caribbean for a reason! Check this list:

Botanical Gardens: There are several gardens boasting some of the most beautiful flowers you could ever imagine, in Ocho Rios and its outskirts. In Jamaica, they call St Ann parish (where Ocho Rios is located) the Garden Parish because of this natural beauty, among other things.

Golfing: There are two excellent golf courses, just a short ride away from the centre of Ocho Rios, if you feel like a little putting.

Horseback riding: Enjoy the wild outdoors, riding a tame and well-conditioned horse at any of the several stables available on the outskirts of Ocho Rios.

Hotel Day Pass: Buy a one-day pass to an all-inclusive hotel and take in all the fun! Hotels have different rates, so shop around.

Jamaican Craft: Jamaica’s skilled craftsmen have their wares on display at several craft markets across the resort town, chances are, you will find something really nice at any of the outlets that you visit.

Live Reggae Music: If you can’t wait until it’s night to enjoy live reggae music, not to worry, there are several spots in Ocho Rios where you can rock to local reggae bands in broad daylight, with a cold Red Stripe beer just a hand away.

Night Clubs: A really exciting nightlife awaits at any of the several clubs that are open, most nights of the week.

Rafting & River Tubing: On a bamboo raft, meandering through the curves and turns of the river as it flows to the sea; or in an inflated rubber tube, riding the rushing waters of river, it’s always nice enjoying the cool, clear waters of the White River.

Restaurants: Jamaican cuisine tops and you should make sure you experience it while here. But just so you know, you can also get international cuisine right here in Ocho Rios. So we have Jamaican, Indian, Chinese, Italian, French, Japanese and Greek food ready for the taking. And just in case you’re in a hurry we have several fast food outlets, both local and international brands, ready and willing to serve you.

Shopping: Whatever it is you need, you can get it to buy. Seriously. In-bond or otherwise. Gift items to take back for friends and relatives, souvenirs, jewellery, perfume, Jamaican craft items, rum, T-shirts, CDs, a dress or a suit to wear on a special occasion, anything. Tell you driver what you need and he’ll find it for you.

Sightseeing: Irrespective of where your interest lies, you will find beautiful, interesting and maybe even mind boggling sights, when you cruise around this beautiful tourist resort. Your driver can recommend just the right spots for you.

Tours: There are several tours, beginning in Ocho Rios, that will take you to some of the most fascinating places not just in Ocho Rios but as far away as capital city, Kingston.

Watch a Jamaican sunset: On a bright sunny day, which is often in Jamaica, you can relax with an ice-cold Red Stripe beer or jerk chicken, or whatever suits you – and watch the sun sink into the warm Caribbean Sea. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.

Water sports: There are several water sporting activities available in Ocho Rios. If you want to scuba dive, snorkel, sail, ride a go-fast boat, paddle a canoe, swim – the options are endless.

Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism is currently (as in 2017) working to promote Jamaica as a gastronomy destination, inspired, no doubt, by the island’s spicy and mouth-watering cuisine that has grown in popularity outside of the country’s borders in recent years.

For those people who love Jamaican food and want to know more about it, here is a list of indigenous Jamaican dishes that you dare not miss when you visit Jamaica.

If you’re staying at a hotel you would definitely find some of these dishes being served there but there might be a few that you have to hit the road to find, at a restaurant located off-property.

You may also want to try some of our favourite beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. An ice cold Red Stripe beer is quite refreshing, while a sip of Appleton rum can be quite exhilarating. Sorrel, ginger beer and a wide array of fruit juices are also available.

Ackee and Saltfish (Codfish)

Ackee and saltfish (salted cod fish) is Jamaica’s national dish. Ackee and salt fish can be eaten with a wide variety of foods, but is preferred with items such as boiled dumpling, yam, potato, roast breadfruit, fried dumpling.


Roasted then sliced and fried, the breadfruit is an important and versatile starch in the diet of Jamaicans. It can be eaten with just about any type of meat, fish or vegetable. Goes well with ackee and salt fish, callaloo and salt fish, corned beef, pickled mackerel, mackerel in tomato sauce, brown stew chicken. The breadfruit can also be boiled but is usually preferred roasted and fried.

Bulla and Pear (Avacado) or Cheese

During pear season, (in the summer) a favourite snack for Jamaicans is pear with bulla, a small, round and flat cake made with flour, molasses and spices. Bulla is, traditionally, a snack for children but is enjoyed by everyone when accompanied by pear. Bulla is also enjoyed with cheese.

Bun and Cheese

Eating bun and cheese is an Easter tradition in Jamaica. Of course, bun and cheese is available all year round but bakeries bake special Easter Buns (with fruits and raisins) for the season and is something Jamaicans look forward to.

Two slices bun, one slice cheese and you’ve got a delicious sandwich. Try it.

Callaloo and saltfish

Callaloo and saltfish may be considered an alternative to ackee and saltfish and is enjoyed in a similar manner to the national dish.

Cornmeal Pudding

Another popular Jamaican delicacy. Prepared similarly to the sweet potato pudding but cornmeal replaces sweet potato as the main ingredient.

Curried Goat with White Rice

Curried goat (or curried mutton), preferred mostly with white rice, is a favourite of many Jamaicans who enjoy when the meat is well seasoned and peppery.

Fried Fish & Bammy or Festival. Also Escovitch Fish

Fish, seasoned with spices and sometimes peppered to eye watering degree, fried and eaten with cassava bammy, is another Jamaican specialty that should not be missed. Sometimes festival (seasoned and fried flour dumpling) is used to accompany the fish but either way, it is a delicious meal.

Escovitch Fish is fried fish which is then marinated with a vinegar based dressing seasoned with hot pepper (for sure!), carrots and onion. Enjoyed the same way as described above.

Ital Stew

Ital stew is one of several Rastafarian dishes that have become popular in Jamaica and enjoyed by non-Rastafarians as well. Rastafarians promote healthy lifestyle, which includes natural eating, chief of which is a non-meat, vegetarian diet.

Ital stew consists of beans with a variety of seasoning and vegetables prepared in reduced coconut milk. It can be served with rice.

Jerk Chicken

When it comes to worldwide popularity, Jamaica’s jerk chicken is only second to the Jamaican patty. Jerking chicken is basically cooking the bird over open charcoal flames, using the smoke as part of the cooking process. Specially developed “jerk seasoning” is used to give the chicken that extra flavour.

Jerk Pork

Jerk pork is prepared in a similar manner to jerk chicken and is also a favourite of many Jamaicans.


Bite into a juicy, delicious East Indian of Julie mango today and taste what Jamaicans enjoy about their summer, year after year. There are several species of mangoes on the island and they’re all delicious. Be like us, don’t bother to

peel it with a knife. Just wash it and bite it and peel with your teeth. It’s delicious fun!


The history of the Jamaican patty goes back several decades. It is a pastry that contains various fillings and spices baked in a flaky crust. Ground beef was the preferred choice for filling in early days but nowadays fillings can be any form of meat – chicken, fish, shrimp, lobster, pork, curried goat – or vegetables. The patty is sometimes enjoyed with coco bread.


Porridge is a favourite breakfast food for many Jamaicans as it represents just enough essentials to get your day going on the right foot. Among the more popular flavours would be cornmeal, peanut, corn, banana and oats.

Rice & Peas and Fried Chicken

While ackee and saltfish is the national dish, it can only be enjoyed during ackee season. Rice and peas and fried chicken is enjoyed all year round and is the number one dish prepared in Jamaica homes on a Sunday. It is also the number one menu item at restaurants. The chicken is sometimes prepared in a variety of ways, including jerk, curry, brown stew, or otherwise. There is also variation in the type of peas used, which could be red peas, cow peas, gungo peas or otherwise. The rice and peas is usually prepared using coconut milk for added flavour.

Rung Dung (Run Down)

If you’ve never liked coconut flavoured food, then after tasting Jamaican run dung, you’re going to start loving it. Run dung is a stew that consists of salted (pickled) mackerel, (although other variety of fish may be used) reduced coconut milk, onion, tomato and other seasoning. The stew is usually served with boiled bananas and dumplings but will enhance whatever it is served with.

Stamp ‘N’ Go (Salt Fish Fritters)

A batter made of flour and including shredded salted cod fish and seasoning, scooped with a spoon and dropped in boiling cooking oil will give you this delicious appetizer. A traditional Jamaican favourite that has remained over the decades because of its tantalizing flavour.

Steam Fish, Okra & Crackers

Some Jamaicans will swear that fish, steamed in a sauce that includes okra and other vegetables, with crackers added at the end, is an aphrodisiac. Maybe it is, but for sure, it is a delicacy and should not be missed.

Stew Peas and Rice

A delicious stew made with red peas and simmered in coconut milk and Jamaican seasonings, and enjoyed over white rice, doesn’t sound anywhere close to how this meal tastes. It’s awesome! Meat, such as pig’s tail or corned beef, is usually used in the stew. Vegetarians will omit the meat but the taste remains one not to be missed.

Sweet Potato Pudding

It’s easy to understand why sweet potato pudding is a favourite of virtually all Jamaicans, it’s simply awesome! It is regarded as one of Jamaica’s favourite baked item of all time, comparing favourably with Christmas fruit cake and Easter buns.

Ingredients include sweet potato, flour, raisins, evaporated milk, coconut milk, spices, sweetener, and a bit of rum (optional). Some persons add a bit of yam.

It is more enjoyable when baked over a coal stove with some of the coal also heaped on top of the covered baking tin, than when baked in an oven, as it leaves a soft, delicious layer on top.

Revered for its mild flavour and lack of bitterness, the reputation of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, so named because it is grown in the cool hills of the island’s Blue Mountain region, has been known world-wide for decades.

It is considered one of the best coffee in the world and has attracted d.

However, the really good news about Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is not just in its palate-pleasing taste and tempting aroma, but rather in the health benefits you get from consuming the beverage.

So, if the price of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee seems a bit high to you, just remember there’s more to it than the taste.

Here are some of the commonly known benefits to be derived from consuming Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.

1.Coffee contains large amounts of nutrients and anti-oxidants. Coffee is said to contain pantothenic acid, manganese, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, and thiamine.

2.Coffee is good for your liver, according to studies, which claim it may lower the risk of liver cancer by up to 40 percent.

3.Coffee helps the brain. We know it helps to keep you awake but did you know it also improves brain function? Coffee is said to help improve mood, reaction time, memory and cognitive function.

4.Coffee lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, by as much as 60 percent, it is believed. Apart from improving brain function as stated above, coffee helps in keeping your brain sharp and attentive.

5.Coffee fights against Type II Diabetes, when you consume three to four cups per day, by around 25 percent.

6.Coffee fights depression. If you consume four or more cups per day you are 10 percent less likely to become depressed.

7.Coffee helps to burn fat, it is believed. Coffee helps to increase metabolism and oxidation of fatty acids in the body. Coffee also suppresses appetite so you will eat less, a contributing factor to weight loss.

8.Coffee reduces risks of death. Studies show that coffee consumption has been associated with reduced risks of death from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological diseases and even suicide.

And if all those listed benefits aren’t enough, just remember that Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee also makes you feel irie. Yeah Mon!!


 For a stranger to Jamaica, it would be easy to tell when it’s mango season on the island.

Along the street sides of major towns, you will find vendors with trays, bags or boxes of mangoes, for the most part willing to negotiate a price for the delicious, juicy, meaty fruits.

And if you’re driving along a country road, it’s not uncommon to come upon a section of the road littered with mangoes that had fallen from over hanging trees.

Typically, any time between April and September, mangoes could be in season in Jamaica.

Now, if a Jamaican should get lost in the countryside, he wouldn’t mind, as long as it’s mango season and the fruits are accessible.

That assertion sums up the passion that Jamaicans have for mangoes and one would readily tell you that “Mango season nice!”

Growing up as a kid in rural Jamaica, the best part of summer would be going to mango “walk” (when used this way, “walk” is a Jamaican term for orchard) to gather mangoes and then eating them right there underneath the tree.

 Usually in a mango walk you will find species such as Number 11, Stringy, Green Gauge or Sweetie, as these are the types that are mostly available across the Jamaican landscape and would also fetch a lower price in the market place.

The more expensive types, such as Julie and East Indian, are usually grown in a more protected environment and would not necessarily be found in a mango walk.

 Nutritionally, mangoes offer high value for money. They are rich in vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, niacin, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and more. Jamaicans just eat ‘em for the love of it!

A St. Ann based tour company has been giving visitors and locals alike a Taste of Jamiaca through a 360 degree tour in the Garden Parish.

The tour brings together a mix of visits to places of interest, sightseeing spots, historical locales and farms. As the tour swings through iconic spots in St. Ann, guests on tour are also given an explanation and analyses of plants by the roadside, the naming of significant herbs and pointed to features of the landscape.

North Coast Times was among guests on Wednesday, April 12 when the first stop on the tour was the ecologically rich Fern Gully, at Colegate. Later there was a stop at historical Walkerswood before the team swung up to Golden Grove with a scheduled stop at Golden Grove Basic School. Then it was on to farms at Claremont where there was interaction with coffee farmers and also with potato growers. Then it was on through agricultural communities, including Higgin Town, Lime Hall and back to coastal St. Ann’s Bay where the history of the police station was laid bare and the home of Jamaica’s first National Hero, Marcus Garvey visited. Then it was back to Priory/Richmond where guests had lunch of traditional dishes and a menu of local foods, served in gourdies or calabash. There was also live dancing and Drumming.

An all-inclusive, eco-friendly culinary experience

Carl Gilchrist Gleaner Hospitality Jamaica Writer

Lascells and Elizabeth Broderick have developed and launched a tour aimed at highlighting some of St Ann’s natural offerings and are pleased with the response, so far, from tour operators and guests. Described as an all-inclusive eco-friendly culinary experience, The Taste of Jamaica Authentic Tour offers eco sightseeing, beach cooking, real Jamaican food, and music. And you can add dance lessons for the fun of it.

The tour begins in Ocho Rios and ends on a beachside property in Priory. In between, the tour takes you on a journey through Fern Gully, where craft vendors display their wares – you see the wide variety of Jamaican ferns that gave the gully its name – through the community of Colegate and on to Golden Grove, where if you’re lucky, you will catch the children at play during break time at the local primary school. Moving on to Claremont, the rustic country setting, green hills and valley, houses perched on hillsides, farmers in their field, Jamaicans playing dominoes at roadside shops, all go together to make the experience uniquely Jamaican. All throughout the tour, the knowledgeable driver will keep you informed and educate you about things Jamaican. After Claremont, you make a stop at a coffee plantation in Higgin Town then pass by Liberty Hill Great House in Lime Hall and Marcus Garvey’s former home in St Ann’s Bay before moving on to a beachside property for the other side of the experience. Here, you sample a wide range of in-season Jamaican fruits, try your hand at jerking chicken, then have it and taste Jamaica’s national dish, ackee and saltfish. Be entertained by recorded reggae music and an African themed dance group that is more than happy to teach you dance moves to match every Jamaican beat from ska to rocksteady to reggae and dancehall. And there’s more. Broderick said the grand finale at the beachfront will see guests being served a typical Jamaican lunch that includes ground provisions such as yam and potato, along with ackee and salt fish and jerked chicken.

“We also have a live entertainment section where the guests learn to do the Jamaican dancehall dances,” she said. “Guests who have been on the tour just love the dancing. They love learning how to jerk and love eating the jerked chicken. They love Jamaican fruits. They love the Jamaican countryside, especially the coffee plantation.” Several tour representatives who have been on the course have given the new tour the thumbs up.

According to Moon Palace’s vacation planner sales supervisor Nickesha Clarke, “I would say it’s really Jamaican. It’s cultural and different. It more tells you about what we grow in Jamaica and what you see when you’re off the main thoroughfare. It’s a good tour.” Georgia Black, vacation planner, also of Moon Palace, said at first that she thought the Taste of Jamaica tour was all about food but said after the tour: “I got a taste of Jamaica on a different side as it relates to tasting the richness of our culture. I got to learn a whole lot of stuff. For persons coming from the outside wanting to know more about Jamaica, nothing was watered down. This is the perfect tour. I love it! I love it!” Britney Campbell of Amstar DMC Jamaica was impressed with the educational value of the tour. “It was very good, very educational and informative about island Jamaica. It’s a good tour to learn more about Jamaica,” she said. Visit taste www.tasteofjamaicatours.com for more information.


Shanna Gay from Grand Bahía Príncipe about to sample the Jamaican food provided by Taste of Jamaica Tour.







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