Ocho Rios (Spanish for "Eight Rivers") is a town in the parish of Saint Ann on the north coast of Jamaica and is more widely referred to as Ochi by the locals. Beginning as a sleepy fishing village, Ocho Rios has seen explosive growth in the last decade to become a popular tourist destination featuring duty-free shopping, a cruise-ship terminal, world-renowned tourist attractions and several beaches and acclaimed resorts. In addition to being a port of call for cruise ships, Ocho Rios also hosts cargo ships at the Reynolds Pier for the exportation of sugar, limestone, and in the past, bauxite. The estimated population of the town in 2011 was 16 671, which is nearly 10% of the total population of St. Ann. The town is served by both the Donald Sangster International Airport (97 km west of Ocho Rios) and the Ian Fleming International Airport (17 km east of Ocho Rios). Scuba diving and other water sports are offered in the town's vicinity.
View of Ocho Rios
Location in Jamaica
|Coordinates: 18°25′N 77°07′W|
|• Total||16,671 (2,011 census)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
+1-658 (Overlay of 876; active in November 2018)
The name "Ocho Rios" is a possibly misnomer, as there are not currently eight rivers in the area. It could be a British corruption of the original Spanish name "Las Chorreras" ("the waterfalls"), a name given to the village because of the nearby Dunn's River Falls.
The North Coast Highway from the Sangster International Airport at Montego Bay to Ocho Rios has been improved since 2007 and the journey is now an hour and forty five minutes drive. On 26 August 2011, the Jamaican government announced a $21 million revitalization plan for the resort area. Since March 2016, with the opening of the North-South portion of Highway 2000 (whose North terminus is located at Mammee Bay, a suburb of Ocho Rios), driving and commute times into the nation's capital, Kingston, have gone from over 2 hours to a little under an hour. The opening of this highway has reduced traffic on the old route between Jamaica's two cities (through the town and onto Fern Gully) immensely.
The town has several restaurants and nightclubs, such as Margaritaville, as well as Dolphin Cove, where tourists can swim and interact with dolphins. Another major point of interest is Fern Gully, which was formed from a 1907 earthquake that destroyed one of the river beds in the area. Fern Gully stretches about 3 miles of great rocky gorge where travellers can see over 540 variety of ferns. In 1907, the British government paved over the destroyed river bed to create what is currently known as The Fern Gully Highway.
Ocho Rios was originally settled by the a tribe of Arawak Indians called Taino, who had settled in Jamaica at around 1,000 BC and called the land Xamayca, meaning land of wood and water. After Christopher Columbus landed in 1494 and claimed the island for Spain, Ocho Rios was names Chorreros meaning rapid rivers. The Tainos were ultimately obliterated by disease, slavery and war. Some also committed suicide, presumably to escape their conditions as slaves. Spain brought the first African slaves to Jamaica in 1517 as labourers to work on plantations throughout Jamaica, including Ocho Rios.
In May 1655, British forces seized the island from the Spanish. The English misunderstood, misinterpreted and mispronounced the Spanish name Chorreros and called the town Ocho Rios, which sounded close enough. In 1657 and 1658 the Spanish, sailing from Cuba, failed to retake the island in fierce battles in and around Ocho Rios known as the Battle of Las Chorreras.
Historically, Ocho Rios had never acquired any prominent role to either the English or the Spanish. It was, however, utilised by pirates who along with Port Royal, regarded it as a perfect base of operations. When slavery was officially abolished on Jamaica in the year of 1834, the town entered a period of poverty and rebirth. With colonial interests removed, the history of Ocho Rios was crafted by the newly freed slaves, who embraced their new-found freedom and slowly turned the town into a stable and peaceful fishing village.
Although plantations developed during colonial times, Ocho Rios never evolved as a fruit-shipping port of any consequence. Things began to change in the 1940s when Reynolds Jamaica Mines built the deep-water Reynolds Pier west of town. An overhead conveyor belt still carries bauxite ore 10 km from the Reynolds open-cast mines at Lydford, in the hills south of town.
Nonetheless, Ocho Rios was still just a quiet village in the 1960s when the Jamaican government formed the St Ann Development Company (SADCo), under the direction of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), and then launched a systematic development. It dredged the harbor and built a small marina, reclaimed the shore, brought in sand for Turtle Beach, and built shopping complexes and housing schemes. By the early 1980s, Ocho Rios' character had been established: a meld of American-style fast-food franchises, nondescript shopping malls, an enclave of mediocre hotels in town, and more tasteful, upscale English-style hotels a discrete distance east. The construction of Island Village, a major shopping and entertainment complex has spruced up 'Ochi.'
Today, Ocho Rios extends four miles between Dunn's River Falls, two miles to the west of the town centre and the White River, two miles to the east. Almost all the development outside the centre is to the east.
In popular culture
The town was a shooting location during the filming Dr. No, the first James Bond film, released in 1962. The Sans Souci hotel was used as the exterior of the Blue Mountain cottage, the home of Bond villain Miss Taro. A decade later, the town was used again in a Bond film, this time 1973's Live and Let Die.
- Beaches Resorts – Ocho Rios
- Couples Resorts – Tower Isle and Sans Souci Locations
- Rooms Resorts
- RIU Hotels & Resorts
- Jewel Dunn's River Resort
- Moon Palace Jamaica
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- "$230M Renovation for Reynolds Pier". Jamaica Information Service. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
- "Development of the Bauxite/Alumina Sector". Jamaica Bauxite Industry. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
Reynolds began exporting bauxite from Ocho Rios in June 1952, and Kaiser followed a year later from Port Kaiser on the south coast.
- Davis, Carlton E (6 June 2012). "60 years of bauxite mining in Ja – Part II". The Jamaica Gleaner (2012-06–06). Retrieved 11 May 2017.
All three of the founding companies have since left Jamaica: Reynolds, in 1984; Alcan, in 2001; and Kaiser in 2004.
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- "History of Ocho Rios - Lonely Planet Travel Information". www.lonelyplanet.com. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
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- "UDC, UWI mourn Seaga". jamaica-gleaner.com. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
- Maresca, Frank; Ricco, Roger (1982). The James Bond Films. Random House Value Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 0517548240. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
- Burlingame, Jon (2012). The Music of James Bond. Oxford University Press. p. 116. ISBN 0199986762. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
- Hughes, Howard (2011). Cinema Italiano: The Complete Guide from Classics to Cult. I.B. Tauris. p. 279. ISBN 0857730444. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
- "Ocho Rios All Inclusive Family Resort in Jamaica – Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club". All Inclusive Resorts and Caribbean Vacations for the Whole Family – Beaches Caribbean Family Resorts. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- "Couples Resorts – An All-Inclusive Couples Resorts in Jamaica". Retrieved 7 September 2017.
- "Rooms on the Beach – The Best Hotel Deal in Jamaica". Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- "ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios – Jamaica All Inclusive Vacations – RIU Hotels & Resorts". Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- "Jamaica All-Inclusive Resort – The Jewel Dunn's River – Ocho Rios Jamaica". jewelresorts.com. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- Moon Palace Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ocho Rios.|Ocho Rios travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Jamaica Tourist Board Ocho Rios page
- Guava Jelly Guide — "Shake hands with the whole of Ochi!"