The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica

6th May 2014
Photo of The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 1/11 by Kristi Keller
Caliente Grill
Photo of The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 2/11 by Kristi Keller
Mahoe Villa
Photo of The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 3/11 by Kristi Keller
Fire Water at Anns Bay
Photo of The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 4/11 by Kristi Keller
Photo of The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 5/11 by Kristi Keller
Milford Falls
Photo of The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 6/11 by Kristi Keller
Mahogany Beach
Photo of The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 7/11 by Kristi Keller
Us at Oceans 11
Photo of The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 8/11 by Kristi Keller
Room at the Pineapple Court Hotel
Photo of The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 9/11 by Kristi Keller
White River
Photo of The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 10/11 by Kristi Keller
Turtle Park
Photo of The Little Gems Of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 11/11 by Kristi Keller
Shaw Park Guest House

I’ve basically learned everything I know about life in Jamaica in St Ann.  Okay I will break that down for you. When I think of Ocho Rios, located in St Ann, I think about all the transformations that have taken place in my life because of Jamaica. 

 St Ann is located on the north coast of Jamaica and bordered by Trelawny, St Mary and St Catharine.  It is known as the garden parish and is home to the town of Ocho Rios.

-  First, I have learned that most foreigners call it St Ann’s which bugs me because that’s not what it’s called.  Call me OCD but there is a St Ann’s Bay within the parish of St Ann but that’s just a small town, not the entire parish.

-  I learned how to find a place to live in Jamaica in St Ann (Ocho Rios), how to get utility bills in my own name, how horrible customer service of those utility companies is, and how to stand in line for hours to pay those bills.

-  I learned there are a few people in Jamaica that I could trust 100% and I got the best neighbor on the planet when I got my apartment in Ochi.  I have also learned that the people I trusted 100% kind of fall back to about 50% over time (except my neighbor).

-  I learned how to drive in Jamaica, quite by accident.  For years I had wished I was brave enough to drive in Jamaica but felt too intimidated until one day….I had a bunch of foreign friends come down and one of them rented a car insisting I drive them around the island.  There was no turning back now so I just did it and it opened unlimited doors for me!  I also learned how to use mirrors while backing up LOL.  I had always been a shoulder-checking reverse girl until I noticed how stealth Jamaicans were at backing into tight places using only mirrors so I secretly practiced back home in Canada and now it’s second nature.

- I ran into my first (but not last) cow posse on the road near Golden Grove. I still wish I was quick enough to pull out my camera and capture this one because it was hilarious. That was two trips before I started traveling with a dash camera in my rental cars.

I could never cover EVERYTHING I’ve learned about this parish because I’ve spent so much time there that time has actually escaped me.  But those are some of the things (in a nutshell) that stand out in my mind as I write.

One activity I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do in Jamaica is a guided raft tour down a river. There are a few different places you can do it and I chose White River, in St Ann’s just outside of Ocho Rios. I’m not going to lie…I never got to go rafting the day I went to White River. There had been heavy rains the day before and the river was running too swift for the rafts. In spite of not rafting or tubing that day I still loved going to White River. The scenery around there is gorgeous and I can only imagine what the raft ride would have been like.
Photo of White River, Ocho Rios, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
Although I love staying there, this is the real deal. Its very basic and no frills. I’ve stayed right on the beach at Rooms on the Beach for cheaper, but there are some definite pro’s about this guest house. For around $60 USD a night you will get a bed, a mini-fridge, a full bathroom and some rooms have A/C. For around $65 a night they’ll throw in a kitchen. For about $75 a night you can get a cottage with 2 full bathrooms, bedroom with double bed, kitchen, A/C and a hide-a-bed in the living room. They all have TV’s with cable and you can probably pick up the wireless internet on their unsecured network. I’ve stayed in 4 different rooms here and all were reasonable. Another big plus, in MY opinion, is that the location is up in the hills, but not too far. I can walk into to downtown Ocho Rios in about 10 minutes at a Jamaican’s pace.The grounds are beautifully kept and you will see the groundskeeper out there every single day maintaining it. The property is a fair size with rooms and cottages scattered on it. My two favorite places on the property are the two covered gazebo areas – one in a courtyard and one out front. Both can be lit at night if you want to sit out after dark and hardly anyone uses them so its all yours!
Photo of Little Shaw Park Guesthouse, Ocho Rios, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
Fire Water, located in St Ann’s Bay is one of the coolest natural wonders I’ve ever seen. I read about it in a trip report of a friend of mine, so I had already seen pictures. I remember thinking “That’s pretty neat but I’d never find it”. Never gave it a second thought.his pool of water in the hills has minerals and natural gasses from the earth in it, allowing it to burn when ignited. It is said to have healing properties as well. When I was standing in it the water was really warm, when I tasted it I was surprised that it was salty. Our driver splashed his face and head with it, he even waved his hands through the flames without getting burned. The guy who brought us up there was praying to Haile Selassie as we waded in the pool. This makes me believe it’s a very spiritual place and doesn’t get abused or overused.
Photo of St. Anns Bay, Ocho Rios, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
There is no “nutshell” to describe Oceans 11. I’ll give you the important details first. Its located in the western end of Ocho Rios, if you want to find it EVERYONE knows where it is. The cover charge is $200 JMD but essentially its free because with your admission you get a $200 voucher to put towards your tab. They serve a variety of food and alcohol. For $600 JMD (approx $8.50 US) you get a whole bottle of Appleton and a bottle of Pepsi, with some cups and ice. What a deal! Liquid courage so you can get up and sing later. They have a huge assortment of North American songs to sing, along with popular reggae tunes. Oceans 11 is outdoors and sits on the waterfront, a really nice atmosphere.
Photo of Ocean's 11, Ocho Rios, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
If you’re staying right in town Mahogany beach is much more of a hike than the public beach but definitely worth it. You could walk from the clock tower in about 15 minutes, or catch a taxi at the clock tower for about $100 JMD….just over $1 USD. The taxi will drop you on the roadside and you’ll have to walk down a bit of a road to get to the beach. There’s a boat dock at this beach and you’re free to walk out to the end of it anytime and jump in for a swim if you want. There were a couple yachts parked here when I came and the view out onto the water is spectacular! Especially on a sunny day! My friend took a dip. A major plus to this beach is that its full of locals…I’m not a big fan of beaches packed with tourists. I love to watch the local kids play in the water, and Jamaican families taking some time out to enjoy.
Photo of Mahogany Beach, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
Turtle Park in Ocho Rios is one of the most beautiful and quiet places to hang out. It’s located right in the heart of Ocho Rios near plenty of shops and hotels, and is beautifully maintained. Because of its central location it’s a great meeting spot. It has plenty of benches to sit and relax, as well as wooden gazebos with seats inside if you’re looking for some shade. The trees in the park are huge and by experience I know they offer good protection from the rain….I’ve been caught more than once! The best kept secret about Turtle Park is that if you bring your laptop here, there are several wireless internet connections you can get because of the businesses located in close proximity. Usually when I go I can pick up at least one or two unsecured connections from neighboring hotels.
Photo of Turtle River Park, Ocho Rios, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
I’ve been to this spot in Mammee Bay twice now – once for drinks after dark and once for dinner. We started dining around 5:30pm and as we ate and drank the sun started to go down. I HIGHLY recommend coming to Caliente at this time of the evening so you can watch the sky as the sun fades away. Then after dark the staff lights tiki torches all around the dining area. I have to say that above anything else at this restaurant the ambiance is the BEST thing about it….especially after dark. And all the while they have latin music playing. I checked out the menu and the prices are in USD and are pretty much on par with what you’d pay for dinner back home. The portions are big so it makes it more worth your money. They had one page for standard Mexican dishes and I think they were all under $20 USD, and one page where each dish included seafood and the prices were higher for those. I ordered the Chimichanga meal which was really great and satis
Photo of Caliente Bar & Grill, Mammee Bay, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
I usually go out of my way to find accommodations in Jamaica that are affordable to the budget-minded traveler, while keeping convenience and comfort in mind. In my opinion Pineapple Court has it all. It is located in the Pineapple area of Ocho Rios which is not the most touristy part of town.Pineapple Court hotel is a smaller hotel with only 14 rooms – some king suites and some double suites. As far as I know all suites are priced the same at a very reasonable $60.00 USD per night! I stayed in a king suite which was perfectly comfortable. Each room has air conditioning, cable TV and full bathrooms with standing shower. There is a great sized pool on the property but unfortunately I was there was right after hurricane Sandy hit the island so the pool was empty and being repainted and cleaned. I didn’t take any photos of it. There is plenty of free parking on site, free coffee in the lobby and extra friendly staff.
Photo of Pineapple Court Hotel, Ocho Rios, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
Evita’s is up a pretty steep road just off the main road in Ochi but once you get to the top (walking is a killer!) the view is well worth it. The entire back side of the restaurant is open to this spectacular view of Ocho Rios and the ocean. We took a table right at the edge of the balcony and enjoyed the scenery while we chatted. And the inside decor is nice and fresh. There was no one else in the place the day we went. I knew before I even got here that if ravioli was on the menu that’s what I was getting. I’m a sucker for proper Italian ravioli and they did have it on the menu….cheese ravioli in a creamy sauce. My friend ordered some kind of spaghetti with veggies. It’s good to note that neither of our meals came with anything, such as garlic toast – we had to order that on the side and it was a small serving. We munched on the bread while we waited for our main dishes, which didn’t take long at all to arrive. Our server was polite, prompt and courteous. The food was delicious but not for the budget traveler. I had my meal, cheesecake and a coffee and my half of the bill was $2500 jmd. The atmosphere was great with the view and the dining room decor. I guess I give Evita’s in Ocho Rios a “recommended” if you’re looking for Italian food in Jamaica!
Photo of Evita's Italian Restaurant, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
I’m pretty much a budget traveler and refuse to spend hotel prices, so when I was in a bind I called one of my best rasta friends in a panic and said “hook me up!!”. This is where he brought me and although it’s more expensive than what I usually pay, it’s still dirt cheap. My overall opinion of this place, pretty good depending on your travel style. It was fairly clean, very quiet, and people basically leave you alone here. I thought it was secure too because we had a lot of audio gear, video cameras and a laptop with us and everything remained intact. Actually that’s probably because they never came in to make up our room once. I guess you have to make your own bed. Location is nice (Shaw Park Rd) and it’s not more than a 15 minute walk to the center of town. There’s a little bar and a supermarket about a 5 minute walk as well.
Photo of Mahoe Villa, Ocho Rios, Jamaica by Kristi Keller
These little falls are located on Milford road quite far up the hill. Any taxi driver would know where it is. These little falls are located on Milford road quite far up the hill. Any taxi driver would know where it is. From what I saw (in the dark) the falls definitely weren’t Dunns River falls but it was so pleasant to see and hear. I love waterfalls and this one is definitely NOT a tourist trap. I loved it because it’s more private than one of those big attractions.
Photo of Milford Falls, Ocho Rios, Jamaica by Kristi Keller