Ocho Rios is located on the north coast of Jamaica about 100 miles to the east of the island’s other popular holiday destination, Montego Bay. It’s a fast-growing town, thanks in no small part to the tourist trade, and now has nearly 100,000 inhabitants. Ocho Rios is a popular stop-off for cruise ships meandering through the Caribbean.
Because of the large diversity of various cultures and influences that have helped to define the country, Ocho Rios offers a myriad selection of restaurants, each with their own unique menu and offering a spin on local and international favourites. Quite often restaurants offer entertainment for guests, usually involving catchy, rhythmic music and lots of hip shaking and laughter. The locals are friendly and enjoy showing off their colourful and rich culture. The enthusiastic and optimistic attitude that remains ever present regardless of the hotel, resort, attraction or restaurant you are lucky enough to visit during your stay adds to the ambiance and is guaranteed to help make your stay a memorable one.
The climate of Ocho Rios is tropical. This means temperatures are warm year-round with only small fluctuations and two distinct seasons – wet and dry (these seasons are also commonly referred to as Summer and Winter, respectively). The average temperature varies just 3°C across the year – from its lowest of 26°C in January and February to its highest of 29°C around August. If choosing a wardrobe for you holiday, it is best to go with light, breathable material with pants/dresses not extending below the knees (with the exception of any plans to attend a formal occasion!). Unless you are planning on spending your day indoors with the air-conditioning operating at minimum temperature, you more than likely will not need any warm jackets or coats for your holiday, regardless of season.
A benefit of its tropical location; sea temperatures in Ocho Rios vary to a minimal degree. The coolest temperature average is 27°C, while the warmest is 29°C. This allows beach goers and water activity enthusiasts to appreciate the ocean all year round. There are quite often times when the ocean temperature exceeds the air temperature, giving the perception of swimming in a warm bath. This is especially noticeable on still days, when there is minimal swell and the water in the bay area does not mix to a great degree with the cooler (outside ocean) waters – resulting in higher sea temperatures within the bay. If you prefer to snorkel in cooler waters, there are many tour operators who will take you by boat out to the further reefs, there, you will observe sea temperatures to be slightly cooler.
The wet season or ‘summer’ varies in length: it begins around late May or early June and runs through to late November. It is the hottest time of year; most days get up to 31°C and nights stay around 26°C. Making the heat that little bit more uncomfortable between June and September is increased humidity. However, the rain normally falls in short, heavy showers.
September and October are the wettest months of the rainy season. Statistically, October has the highest annual rainfall average with 171mm, although this does vary year to year. The intensity of the wet season also varies, depending largely on hurricane activity in the vicinity.
Despite having higher average temperatures, there is also an increase in windy days expected throughout some of the wet season months. These winds can help alleviate the hot and sticky climate by providing cooling ocean breezes, most often appreciated at night when trying to sleep with a lack of air conditioning.
Many people find the wet season a good time to visit as there are far fewer tourists and it is generally much cheaper. You must remember that visiting at this time of year is running the risk of experiencing some bad weather – no one wants to be stuck in a hurricane on holiday - but equally you can be lucky; the rains often fall at night and showers are normally brief, leaving plenty of time for sunny weather.
For the rest of the year - the dry season or ‘winter’ - sunshine prevails and rainfall is much lower. However, this is a tropical location so showers are never out of the question; it rains quite regularly but showers are lighter and shorter, and clouds rarely linger for long. It is not uncommon to suddenly have an hour or two of rain (with little pre-warning), followed almost as quickly by sun. There are 8 hours of sunshine per day throughout these ‘winter’ months which is a welcome break for visitors from northern European destinations, which see far less sunshine at this time of the year.
The coolest weather comes in January and February when the average temperature is 26°C. These months are arguably the best time to visit as the temperature is a little more comfortable and sunshine is guaranteed. Temperatures range between 23°C at night and 29°C in the day. Low humidity stops the heat from being uncomfortable, though most will still take some time to acclimatize.
In general, Ocho Rios enjoys a fantastic, hot, tropical climate that can be enjoyed at any time of year – the climate is one of the main reasons the Caribbean is such a popular holiday destination. Just prepare to get wet if you visit during the rainy season and make sure you check the forecast. If you would like to know more about how these weather averages are calculated please visit this page.
Ocho Rios sits within the Atlantic hurricane belt and is at risk between June and November. Hurricanes rarely hit the resort, though it was subject to Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. If one of these cyclones even passes nearby, it can create violent storms which cause damage to properties and can wreak havoc amongst the population.
A common phenomenon in tropical regions is ‘Squalls’, these phenomena feature short bursts of heavy rain and in some cases severe winds that are sustained for up to an hour. Some thunderstorm activity is also associated with squalls, however, not very often. You can usually spot an oncoming squall by observing large dark clouds, with bases quite low to the ground/ocean and an area of reduced visibility indicating rainfall. People who are unfamiliar with these phenomena should take heed, especially if sailing. The large gusts of wind will easily make your small sailboat uncontrollable.