The name Ocho Rios, literally translated from the Spanish, means "Eight Rivers" but it could be a corruption of Las Chorreras - the waterfalls, because waterfalls are perhaps the most striking feature of the area.
Ocho Rios is famous for Fern Gully, a rocky gorge of tremendous depth which zig-zags for about four miles from the Ocho Rios coast up to the central mountain area of the island.
Although it has become rather commercialized in recent years by souvenir vendors, it is still well worth a visit to see the profusion of tropical ferns (over 500 species) and the kind of foliage only to be found in a tropical rain forest. In the deepest parts of the gorge, only faint dapples of sunshine penetrate through the thick foliage and the temperature is about ten degrees cooler.
In the last 20 years, Ocho Rios has developed from a small town to a thriving tourist resort. New beach land, hundreds of acres, was dredged to the south and hotels, apartment blocks, shopping centers and a marina were added to the already well-established old hotels like Jamaica Inn and Shaw Park.
This area caters for a mixed market in every way, it draws singles and couples of all ages, family groups with children, upmarket all-inclusive holidaymakers, middle-market travellers and those on a fairly tight budget. Persons with mobility difficulties could find the choice of property a bit limited.
The accommodation here is mostly hotel-type accommodation, covering the full range of ratings. There is some good apartment accommodation, usually with at least 1 restaurant on the premises. There are a few villas, which usually come fully staffed. Several hotels in the area are all-inclusive, with some adults only. A growing number of hotels have special facilities for infants through to mid-teens.
Ocho Rios is on the north coast of Jamaica (54 mls NW of Kingston, 67 mls E of Montego Bay and Sir Donald Sangster international airport). It is situated along the coast, looking north over the Caribbean, the wider resort area extends from Mammee Bay in the west to Oracabessa in the East.