Ocho Rios, Jamaica - Stein Travel
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Ocho Rios

The port town of Ocho Rios used to survive on the strength of fishing and banana boats, but now it is the daily arrival of cruise ships full of tourists that keep the coffers full all along the northeast coast of Jamaica. Ocho Rios and its near neighbours Runaway Bay, Discovery Bay and Port Antonio are mainly clusters of holiday resorts and hotels, catering for package-deal holidaymakers and several celebrities who maintain their private retreats in the region.

Ocho Rios cannot claim to be a genuine Jamaican experience, and is filled with tourist paraphernalia. Because of the need to entertain thousands of fun-seekers, the natural and historical attractions of the area have been commercialised and controlled. There is plenty to see and do in between bathing and sun-worshipping on the magnificent beaches, from climbing up waterfalls to horseback riding through sugar cane plantations, or taking afternoon tea at the former home of British playwright/songwriter, Noel Coward.

The surrounding countryside at Ocho Rios (sited in the 'Garden Parish' of St. Ann) is lush and tropical, with fern-clad cliffs and breathtaking waterfalls, and a self-drive tour of the region to take in the scenery, like a drive through the famous three-mile vine-draped Fern Gully, is very worthwhile.

Ocho Rios is a town dedicated to fun and sun, a crossroads of pleasure and leisure full of surprises and delights in the centre of Jamaica's vacation wonderland.

Information & Facts

Climate

Ocho Rios experiences a tropical climate with warm year-round weather and average daytime highs reaching 84°F (29°C). There are two distinct seasons, the wet and dry season. The wet season runs from May to November and sporadic showers can be expected with the heaviest rains occurring in September and October. The hurricane season runs from June to November, though relatively few hurricanes pass through Jamaica.

Language

The official language of Jamaica is English but a local patois is also spoken, a mixture of English, Spanish, and various African languages.

Money

The Jamaican Dollar (JMD) is divided into 100 cents. The island is well supplied with ATMs, banks and bureaux de change. Banking hours are usually Monday to Thursday from 9am to 2pm, and Friday from 9am to 4pm. Cambio exchange offices are found throughout the country, open later than banks and often offering better exchange rates. Retain receipts as proof of legal currency exchange. Exchange bureaux at the airports and hotels also offer better rates than banks. Major credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Both cash and travellers cheques are best taken in US Dollars.

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