I like to think of my travel style as adventurous – always exploring new places and pushing myself to the limit physically and mentally. However, we all need a relaxing getaway every once in a while. All-inclusive beach resorts are the perfect venue for that. Honestly, the world would be a better place if we all did this more often. I recently took a trip to Ocho Rios, Jamaica to celebrate a friend’s 30th, and want to share my experience and recommendations here…
Why Ocho Rios?
Ocho Rios is in the parish of Saint Ann on the northern coast of Jamaica. We chose it because it was more affordable than Montego Bay, but still had plenty of what we wanted to do. And honestly, all I wanted to do was sit on the beach in the sunshine with a tropical drink! Ocho Rios has several different resorts and tourists activities and is famous for being featured in the very first James Bond movie.
Getting to Ocho Rios
We flew into Montego Bay (Sangster International Airport) and our resort included airport pick up and drop off which was AWESOME! There was a traffic jam and the bus stopped at other resorts first, so we were on the bus for several hours. Not as fun, but still worth the trouble and cost savings.
The Resort: Jewel Dunn’s River Resort
We stayed at Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort and Spa, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton (btw, when I’m not in an Airbnb while traveling, I’m probably staying in a Hilton!). We got a great bundle deal on flights and resort from Cheap Caribbean and were able to upgrade our room to an ocean view balcony! I truly enjoyed my stay here and here’s why:
- Adults only
- Several pools and outdoor bars
- Small feel to the resort, and it wasn’t crowded at all
- Variety of food options and pretty good food! The buffet serves Caribbean/Jamaican food so it was fun to try new things (always plantains. I love plantains!). We also had SO much fun at the hibachi/Japanese restaurant
- Dive shop on site that can take you on snorkel, scuba and sailboat trips for a very reasonable price
- SO MANY free activities: water sports (sailboats, water bikes, kayaks, paddle boards, etc.), volleyball, fitness center, tennis courts, shuffle board, basketball and more
- Free entertainment at night and bars open late (other resorts I’ve been too are basically dead after dinner!)
- Coffee bar – not the best but definitely took advantage of it!
- Clean beach with lots of seating
- I took advantage of one of the spa specials and had a nice massage
Excursions: Scuba, Blue Mountain Coffee, Dunn’s River Falls and Park
You know how I said this was a relaxing trip? Well that still doesn’t mean I’m going to do nothing! While lots of lounging at the pool and beach happened, I also took the opportunity to get off of the resort!
Scuba (through the resort)
As I mentioned above, the resort has a dive shop on site which made planning our dive super easy and affordable! We went to the dive shop the day before, paid $100 per person for a two tank dive and met the dive master the next morning. We took a boat from the resort out to the water. We dove around the reefs and saw some fish and rays – first dive was down to 60 feet and the second was to 30 feet. Nothing spectacular, but it was nice to get a dive in!
Blue Mountain with Dr. Fun Tours (Click here for the direct website | click here for Trip Advisor)
Delton (aka Dr. Fun) will basically take you on a custom tour based on what you want to do! We wanted to see the famous Blue Mountain coffee of Jamaica. So he picked us up from our resort and the road trip to Blue Mountain began! It was a great time and the highlight of the trip. It was a long ride to Blue Mountain, but Dr. Fun made it FUN! Delton talked almost the entire ride telling us about Jamaica and the area, plus we added some extra stops!
We learned about and tasted the local fruit from a fruit stand and straight from the trees (Jamaica Apples which are kinda like pears and only grow two places in the world, Coconuts, Sugar Cane and more).
We visited the James Dennis Coffee Farm where we learned about the coffee process from start to finish. We then tasted fresh, fire roasted coffee and enjoyed an authentic Jamaican lunch. You can buy a pound of beans for $30 – much less than you’ll find at the airport! The coffee was very unique and fresh tasting. As someone obsessed with coffee, I loved being able to try this.
The last stop was Bob Marley falls for a dip in the refreshing water – OK, I totally fell in on accident 🙂
We booked a tour with Dr. Fun through Trip Advisor, but I also linked to his direct website above. I would totally trust booking with him directly. (Click here for the direct website | click here for Trip Advisor)
Dunn’s River and Falls Park (through the resort which included admission and transportation)
These falls are famous in Jamaica and they basically made a water park out of it. After entering the park, you’ll be grouped together and hike up the falls. You’ll be asked to leave your hat, sunglasses, etc. behind so you don’t lose them! Groups were holding hands to help each other up, but we opted not to do that as we were very comfortable with hiking (wear good water shoes!). It was pretty crowded but we still had a good time climbing up the falls and getting in the water. I wouldn’t go again (I’m glad I did it once, though!), but if I were to, I’d try to go much earlier to beat the crowd!