Is Ocho Rios safe for travelers headed to the island of Jamaica?
Ocho Rios is one of the top places to visit for so many different types of travelers to this beautiful island paradise located in the Caribbean.
As one of the most popular places for Americans and Europeans alike, it has some of the best attractions and landmarks on the island.
From the Dunn’s River Falls to the incredible gastronomical greats and world-renowned hotels and accommodation.
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Is Ocho Rios Safe?
Ocho Rios is one of the best places to visit in Jamaica as it has things for all people; no matter what walk of life you come from.
Why is it then, that there are those that deem Jamaica as unsafe for tourists?
How can one of the most popular tourist spots in the western hemisphere be unsafe?
We’re here to dispel the myths that may have been carried over from the capital Kingston.
Where is Ocho Rios?
Ocho Rios is a port town located on Jamaica’s north coast, roughly in the center between the extreme eastern and western points.
Due to its positioning, its home to some pretty incredible beaches, with its own share of the bright blue waters along the island’s coast.
Ocho Rios is situated within the Saint Ann parish, which is bordered by parishes Trelawny, Clarendon, Saint Catherine and Saint Mary.
It’s located roughly 100km to the east of Montego Bay, and around 85km north of Kingston.
Is it Safe to Travel to Ocho Rios?
Definitely. If you consider most other Caribbean islands such as Haiti, Trinidad, and Cuba, Ocho Rios would be hedging your bets.
The crime rate is that of a lot of US cities, with the main issue being petty crime. Carry only the most needed travel essentials with you.
As long as you keep all of your belongings on your person and don’t flash expensive items, the holiday won’t have any hiccups.
As far as the weather and climate go, it’s up to you whether you’d like to visit during the hurricane season or not.
Most people who visit Ocho Rios are here to relax, so travelers shouldn’t feel as though their safety was in jeopardy.
Safety Facts about Jamaica
- According to the UK government, over 216,000 British nationals visited Jamaica in 2018. Most visits are trouble-free.
- The hurricane season in Jamaica normally runs from around June to November. See the best time to go to Jamaica before booking your trip
- The government has stepped in to help enhance security in the travel and tourism sector by assigning special police to patrol on foot and bicycle. These police can be seen around major tourist sites such as in city centers.
- According to the latest in national statistics, rape and aggravated assault is on the decline whereas drug-related murder and robberies are on the rise.
- In 2017, Jamaica’s homicide rate was 56 per 100,000; in 2018, the homicide rate dropped to 47 per 100,000 but remains three times higher than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean.
- According to the Jamaica Tourist Board, in 2017 the island received 4.3 million tourists. A record number and an increase of 12.1% on 2016’s numbers.
Where to Stay in Ocho Rios
First of all, it’s key to mention here that Ocho Rios is one of the safest destinations to visit in all of Jamaica, so there’s not really any areas of the town that are best avoided.
Having said that, you’ll want to be located near Main Street, simply for the best accessibility and prime location.
All the best amenities including some of the island’s best hotels, restaurants, bars and shops are located around this area.
The beach is also close to here too, and there are tons of private accommodation options that cater to all budgets too.
Ocho Rios Nightlife
The nightlife in Ocho Rios is definitely more relaxed when compared to the more hectic scenes of Kingston and Montego Bay.
Here you’ll find many beachside bars perfect for an evening beer or cocktail such as Margaritaville, which is popular amongst both locals and tourists.
When it comes to bigger clubs, be sure to head to Noir, which is the best in town and regularly hosts DJs from throughout the World.
For an alternative night out, head to Amnesia to get involved in Jamaican dancehall music!
Getting Around Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios is one of the best spots in Jamaica due to its prime location.
On the northern coast, the climate is prime and the connections to neighboring Kingston and Montego Bay are extremely useful.
Ocho Rios is also close to the Ian Fleming International Airport, which has connections to neighboring islands.
Taxi services and busses are frequent here, so there are always opportunities for exploring the area.
The main mode of transportation used by travelers for getting around Ocho Rios is in fact by taxi.
Taxis are governed by JUTA, MAXI, and ICAL, so look out for these brands.
Backpacking Jamaica Safely
One thing that backpackers need to consider, is that the Caribbean is wrought with hurricanes.
Even when the season was supposed to end in November, there were surprise hurricanes in January.
You’ll want to stay in an all-inclusive complex just because of the safety issues in places that aren’t prepared for them.
Petty crime is an issue of course, but it’s an issue for most places backpackers travel to. See these tips on traveling alone for the first time if you’re doing solo travel.
Jamaica is not designed for backpacking necessarily, but it’s extremely doable.
What you’ll find here however is just the complexes and hotels that cater for the package holidays rather than free travelers.
Ocho Rios Travel Safety Tips
Ocho Rios has the potential to be dangerous if you don’t take the necessary precautions i.e. you don’t do your homework.
Here’s some top tips to help you before you make the trip out:
- Make sure to take sunscreen. The sea breeze may fool you, but there is definitely a need to protect your skin at all times from the sun.
- You can contact the emergency services by calling 119 for police, ambulance, and fire.
- Keep away from crowds of people if there is any sort of protest. These aren’t just Kingston-related, they can happen across the island.
- Keep a dummy wallet for pickpockets and keep your money hidden away. See these hidden travel wallets for ideas. Bras, money belts or secret bag compartments work too.
- Don’t accept offers of drugs. Not only is it illegal, but it’s dangerous and you’re helping an industry wrought with crime that the government is trying to stop.
- Make sure to use trusted and accredited hotels/hostels. Then once you’ve booked your room, book taxis or buses through the hotel.
- Some of the best hostels in Jamaica can be found in Kingston, Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
- Whilst exploring Jamaica, look out for motorbike riders who can quickly snatch your handbag, phone or other valuables that are within reach.
- Don’t take too many valuables with you. If you want to take expensive equipment such as cameras or smartphones, keep them hidden, locked away and on your person. A PacSafe backpack is perfect for this.
- If you’re visiting between June and November, remember that this is the height of hurricane season which means you’ll need to take the necessary precautions.
- Will you be arriving to from Montego Bay from Ocho Rios by any chance? Be sure to use a trusted means of transportation
- Stay aware that walking around (especially alone) after dark is not recommended. If you must walk somewhere, stick to main roads and more populated areas.
Solo Travel in Jamaica
Women may be frequently catcalled by Jamaican men, depending on where on the island you’re located.
If this does happen to you, be firm yet polite – saying you are in a hurry so you can’t stop to talk is usually better than ignoring someone completely.
Avoid hitchhiking if you are backpacking and don’t walk alone at night or in poorly lit areas.
You can choose to dress as modestly as you want (considering many complexes allow people to wear whatever they like).
Be aware of your surroundings and try to keep safe if you’re out and about at night. The nightlife of Jamaica is very hip, but there is still a chance that your drink may be spiked if unattended.
Got Travel Insurance for Ocho Rios
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Best time to visit to Ocho Rios
The dry seasons in Ocho Rios are from December until April, and also from June until August.
During the winter, daily average temperatures range from 77-79°F, with highs of 84°F and lows of 73°F. In the summer this ranges from 82-83°F, with highs of 88°F and lows of 78°F.
Rainfall for both periods averages between 0.5-1.5 inches per month. The wet season runs in May and also from September until November.
Averages in May hover around 81°F, with highs of 86°F and lows of 78°F. From September until November, it’s between 80-82°F, with highs of 87°F and lows of 76°F.
Rainfall during these wet months range from 3-4 inches each month.
Is Ocho Rios Safe?
Jamaica is an amazing island to visit and is perhaps the most comfortable island to stay in the Caribbean since it’s visited by millions every year.
It would help when visiting Jamaica if you knew how to take the necessary steps in staying safe if you explore the cities.
However, Ocho Rios is one of the safest locations on the whole island so there may not even be a need for strenuous safety precautions.
Ocho Rios is a great place to relax but if you want deeper cultural experiences in Jamaica see what to do in Kingston for more ideas.
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