Fisherman’s Beach, or the Ocho Rios Fishing Village, as it’s now officially known, has had a remarkable transformation as of summer 2018. Almost unrecognisable from its former self, when you entered down a dark and lonely dirt track onto the beach that was scattered with lobster pots, fishing boats and a charming assortment of ramshackle restaurants and bars.
Although Fisherman’s Beach was deemed ‘unsightly’ by the cruise ship lines and passengers, I loved the vibes of the original set up. It had an unpretentious charm to it, it was always full of life and buzzing with activity. There was music booming, people coming and going, eating, drinking, chilling and laughter to be had.
Okay it wasn’t pristine and was a little rough around the edges. But you had to fall in love when you saw how it had grown organically with the tenacity of the entrepreneurs who had erected these buildings, huddled unapologetically side by side selling ice cold drinks and the best seafood in Ocho Rios.
New Beginnings for Ocho Rios Fishing Village
After bulldozing down everything in sight, a modern complex with all the spoils of a $220 Million overhaul stands in its place. Care of the coming together of the Port Authority of Jamaica, several Government Agencies, the Urban Development Corporation, HEART Trust, the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies, as well as the Fisheries Department.
Despite this ‘commercialisation’ of Fisherman’s Beach, I am impressed that the original tenants and fisherfolk were consulted about the project and the promises made to them on vacating the beach for redevelopment were honoured. Despite the stylish upgrade it still remains very much a ‘working fishing beach’, with planners incorporating a cold storage, scaling facility, lounge and restrooms, for the fisherfolk. The colourful fishing boats are now proudly displayed on the sand under the shadow of the amphitheatre like works of art and many of the original tenants have taken up residence in the new shops.
Ocho Rios Fishing Village Facilities
The first thing you will notice on entering the site, is that it is gated, manned by security and has a brightly lit driveway and parking area. The whole area has been beautifully landscaped and has a world class modern design, that makes the most of the naturally present Turtle River that runs the length of the village before it spills into the sea.
The banks of the Turtle River have been fortified with cement and stone and a boardwalk with integral seating has been created that overlooks the Turtle River. The boardwalk is lined with small shops which facilitates an assortment of restaurants, bars, lounges, craft shops, washrooms and the like.
**The yellow tape in the pictures was due to the boardwalk being refurbished. It was all removed by the following day and the whole area is back up and running.
Where the old toilet block once stood, a new show stopping curved building houses the ever popular Dave’s Lobster and Whalers Seafood Restaurant, alongside washrooms on the 1st floor. If you want to dine at either of these restaurants there is a huge balcony with tables and chairs looking out to sea, if you don’t want to sit inside. Underneath there is a large covered seating area, with additional washrooms and an enclosed area for the fisherfolk facilities.
The curved shape of the building boasts a small amphitheatre at the back, which provides the perfect backdrop for hosting events and concerts on the pristine sand. In fact if you are looking for a party atmosphere, then check out the beach on a Sunday when there is invariably a *’Round Robin’ party being kept by one of the tenants. Expect to hear a DJ PUMPING out the tunes under the amphitheatre and additional bar and food stations right on the sand. Other events are usually advertised with posters around the town.
The beach, that was once the domain of the fishing industry has been cleaned up too. With all the old debris, tree stumps and rocks being removed and clean sand and a protective stone sea wall being added. It is now littered with sunbathers and swimmers enjoying this beautifully maintained spot, which you never saw before the redevelopment.
Although not strictly part of the Ocho Rios Fishing Village, there is a large inflatable in the sea, courtesy of the neighbouring property, Margaritaville. Swim out and bounce on the trampoline for added fun!
Please be aware there is NO Lifeguard at Ocho Rios Fishing Village!
TIP! *A ‘Round Robin’ is basically the coming together of a group of vendors (usually bar / restaurant owners) who take turns to host an event. The idea is that all the other vendors will come and support each others event by turning up, preferably with a group, who will purchase food and drinks.
The Important Bits about Ocho Rios Fishing Village
- COST: Entry is FREE!
- PARKING: On-site FREE parking
- FOOD: Best Seafood in Ocho Rios (also Jamaican traditional fayre) available from several different restaurants on site
- PLANT BASED OPTIONS: Limited, but you can get Vegetarian Wraps, Steamed Vegetables and plenty of sides from Whalers Seafood Restaurant and Sports Bar
- DRINK: Plenty of Bars to choose from selling cold soft and alcoholic beverages
- SHOPPING: Limited
- RESTROOMS: Yes
- FAMILY FRIENDLY: *Yes, but you may see persons smoking Marijuana
- WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes, except upstairs – but food can be ordered from the Dave’s Lobster and Whalers Seafood Restaurant and eaten downstairs
- FITNESS LEVEL REQUIRED: All fitness levels
- EASY TO FIND: Yes
- BEACH AMENITIES: Free sunloungers, chairs and tables
- BEACH SAFETY: *NO Lifeguard on duty – Swim at your own risk! Plenty of security personnel though.
- ADDED EXTRAS: Take a tour on the Glass Bottom Boat – Night Vision with Captain Mark
- CROWD INDEX: Can get very busy on cruise ship days
- GOOD TO KNOW: There are FREE music parties held on the sand by the amphitheatre most Sunday’s
I highly recommend the Ocho Rios Fishing Village. It is FREE to enter, clean and safe, the beach is ideal for sunbathing and swimming and there is a good choice of food and refreshments on offer. You could easily spend the whole day and/or night here and would want to come again.
Directions to Ocho Rios Fishing Village
ADDRESS: Ocho Rios Fishing Village, Sailors Hole, A3 Main Road, Ocho Rios, Saint Ann
WALKING: If you are staying in the town centre you can easily walk to Ocho Rios Fishing Village. Head towards the westerly side of town where Island Village is located (walk to the left if you are facing the sea!). Walk past the entrance to The Cove Theatre (Island Village) and a few minutes later you will see the gated entrance to Ocho Rios Fisherman’s Village.
TAXI: From Ocho Rios you will need to get a taxi going in the direction of Saint Ann’s Bay. It won’t cost you any more that JA$150 if you use a route taxi from the Ocho Rios Bus Park, or stand on the side of the road in the direction of the beach and flag down a taxi. Tell the driver you are going to Fisherman’s Beach and they will let you off near the entrance. Private Taxi’s will cost considerably more!
DRIVING: If you are approaching Ocho Rios from the West (Montego Bay, Runaway Bay, etc) follow the A3 towards the town. You will pass Dunn’s River Falls and Mystic Mountain, then the Reynolds Pier (Cargo and Cruise Ship Pier), a little further down you will see the entrance to the Ocho Rios Fishing Village, adjacent to the turn off for Columbus Heights. Drive on in, there is a car park.
If you are approaching Ocho Rios from the east (Oracabessa, Port Antonio etc) follow the A3 towards Ocho Rios and take the bypass (do NOT drive through the town centre), you will pass the Eight Rivers Shopping Plaza and Ocho Rios Jerk Centre. Keep heading out of town, you will pass Island Village Shopping Centre and the entrance to The Cove Theatre, a little further on the right hand side, you will see the entrance to the Ocho Rios Fishing Village, adjacent to the turn off for Columbus Heights. Drive on in, there is a car park.