Ocho Rios -
The Parish of St. Ann on the north coast, is known as the "garden parish" because of its great beauty.
Its parish capital is the market town of St. Ann's Bay.
The resort development of this delightful parish, however, has centered round the town of Ocho Rios.
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.
In fact, Ocho Rios owes much of its fame to Dunn's River Falls, a much-photographed and much climbed attraction. It is a joy to be in or swim underneath the bitingly cool water of the falls, and great fun to make the climb to the top.
Another very beautiful attraction is Eden Falls at The Ruins restaurant.
Ocho Rios is also 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.
A deep water pier with berthing space for three cruise ships at a time has attracted this segment of the tourist industry and it is a rare day when the streets of Ocho Rios do not throng with cruise ship visitors.
There are six shopping plazas to cope with this influx, offering everything from Jamaican handicrafts and souvenirs to duty-free bargains from the in-bond stores.
To the west of town are Coconut Grove and Pineapple Place, which was the first to be built, while in town you will find Ocean View and Island Plaza. Soni's and Taj Mahal Plaza are the places to go if you are looking for in-bond, luxury items.
The Crafts Market is situated in the downtown area.