Turtle River Park is worth a visit if you are in Ocho Rios, the beautiful landscaped park right in the middle of the town centre covers 3 hectares of land and offers a few surprises for visitors young and old.
Giving Jamaican’s and visitors a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the town and sit and relax in peaceful tranquility, the park is free to members of the public and open every day of the week. The park was opened on 18 June 2004 by Prime Minister P J Patterson (PM of the time) after the (UDC) Urban Development Corporation decided the old bus park was ideal for redevelopment.
Turtle River Park Facilities
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- Free Entrance to members of the public
- Open all week
- Clean Toilets
- Snack Outlet
- Childrens Swing Area
- Seating areas / Picnic Tables
- Landscaped Gardens
- Ponds and water features
- Parking – fee payable; free parking spots are available down the end of the road past the main entrance on Milford Road (do NOT park where you see yellow lines or parking restrictions!)
- Security – Wardens patrol park ensuring park rules are upheld
Are There Any Turtles?
Due to the name of the park I was intrigued to find out if there were turtles lurking anywhere, so I made two visits to look for them as it was too dark to fully investigate the park the first evening. I did notice on the first visit that there was a barrier set across a bridge which gave access to a central island, which contained a smaller pond in the centre… I would have to investigate further in the daylight to find out why the barrier was there and if there were turtles here somewhere.
The second time I walked through the park I made sure it was daylight hours so that I could get some pictures and investigate the ponds when it would be easier to spot turtles if there were any to be found.
Palm Lined Walkway
After walking in the large main entrance on Milford Road, there is a long walkway which gives a glimpse of the ponds at the end.
The walkway is lined with palm trees and small hedges to either side, halfway down the walkway a central water feature starts to bubble and flow down towards the ponds.
Manicured lawns to either side of the walkway carry numerous ‘keep off the grass’ signs, which I can only assume to keep the lawns in their magnificent state of lushness!
What is available at the Park?
There are gazebos scattered around the park, where groups of people sit quietly or talk, sing and recite from the bible, lovers young and old share a tender word and touch and everyday people just sit and chill out. Palm trees, bushes and planting leads you along pathways cut through the beautiful lawns to other areas of the park.
There is a children’s play area which has a couple of playhouses on stilts and some swings, although when I visited only a few of the swings had seats, but the children there enjoyed themselves none the less.
The turtle theme carries on through the park and I saw these cute little turtles sitting in a row across the lawn, maybe to create a division from the children’s area behind it. I noticed a trampoline with an enclosure, but couldn’t see anyone attending to it and I assumed it wasn’t free to use.
Along some of the pathways there is a turtle emblem stamped into the concrete to break up the blandness and continue with the turtle theme.
Scenic Ponds and Waterways
The park boasts a large man-made pond which is beautifully designed and has large specimens of what look like coy carp fish swimming in the shallows. Large trees, palms, clipped bushes, flowers and rockstone are tastefully scattered around to create a natural looking atmospheric area, which doesn’t look overdone.
A small bridge carries you over the larger pond that creates a moat effect, as there is an island in the centre which also has a pond with smaller fish swimming amongst the lily pads. A pathway leads you around the pond to an even smaller pond that had a fence around it….. Mmmmm what was in there?
At Last I found the Turtles!
There is a small waterfall that cascaded into the last pond and a small grassed area with rocks near to the water’s edge for the turtles to sun themselves on, or have a break from the water. A second waterfall left the pond and flowed down into the central pond, although a grill across the waterfall prevented the turtles from escaping any further into the other ponds.
A tree at the back of the enclosure provided partial shade to the pond giving the turtles some respite from the scorching Jamaican sunshine.
There were at least 10 turtles in the pond and one in particular took an interest and came out of the pond to walk over to the fence to see what was going on. The others looked on in mild interest and scattered if they felt frightened when you moved too quickly. The shells of the turtles were covered with a green algae but it didn’t seem to bother them as they looked happy and healthy swimming or lolling about in their watery enclosure.
As the fish in the ponds looked like fresh water fish I can only assume these specimens must be a form of fresh water turtle. There were small fish bundled up on the bottom of the pond, but it didn’t seem to be the turtle food? I did wonder what they fed them on though as there was no sign of food anywhere.
I spent a while with the turtles but as the night came down the park wardens came over and put the barrier back over the small bridge and ushered people back over into the main areas of the park before it closed shortly afterwards. I was happy that I found the turtles and that the park’s namesakes really did reside in the park’s ‘river’.
On leaving the park we walked through the entrance on Main Street which has the wardens hut and public restrooms, which I found to be clean and tidy, but lacking tissue, soap and hand towels!
All together the park is a nice attraction and looks as though it is manicured on a daily basis, as it is so beautifully kept. I would recommend a visit to the park especially if you want some peace and quiet, or if you have young children who would enjoy the turtles and play area provided.
Monday to Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on weekends from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Parking Rates: J$50 per hour and J$150 daily
Turtle River Park
Ocho Rios, St. Ann
(876) 795 0078, 974 5015, 974 2612
Telefax (876) 974 2731