Sandals Ochi Beach Club
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
We spent 7 days at Sandals Ochi Beach Club (formerly known as Grande Riviera) for our honeymoon and couldn’t have been happier with our stay at this fantastic all-inclusive resort. Having spent a relaxing week in Sarasota, Florida prior to arriving in Jamaica we were ready to explore Ocho Rios and see what our resort had to offer. Upon arriving in Montego Bay we were taken to a VIP lounge while we waited for our shuttle to arrive. Inside the lounge there were many different snacks and beverages. Jamaica is known for their rum so we immediately had to try a famous rum punch! While our shuttle ride to Ocho Rios was close to 1 1/2 hours we had plenty to view out the windows and had a fabulous time visiting with other people heading to various resorts.
Travel tip: while monetary tips are not necessarily allowed on the resorts in Jamaica it is recommended to tip your drivers, butlers, and anyone who might be taking you on an excursion.
Upon arriving at Sandals Ochi Beach Club we were taken to a check-in area in which the staff quickly brought us drinks and a small snack while we began our check-in process and wait for our butlers. When our butlers arrived they drove us in a golf cart to our Poolside Villa and showed us our room which included a living room area, bedroom with king sized bed, bathroom, small kitchenette, patio with dining table, and private pool. We also were given a bottle of champagne upon arrival and access to a large safe to store valuables.
Photos of our Poolside Villa Butler Suite
After unpacking we immediately went out to explore. Having been cooped up in a plane we opted to walk around the resort rather than call for our butlers to take us by golf cart. After walking around the main house we decided to eat at the Manor Restaurant which served mostly Jamaican foods. After, we began looking for the ocean side of the resort only to find out that the resort is actually divided by a road in which you have to take a shuttle to get to the other side. Typically the shuttles run every 3 minutes so it isn’t much of a hassle to get back and forth easily.
While there is so much to share from our time at the Ochi Beach Club we wanted to keep this post brief, only giving the details that would be helpful to our readers. Here is what we feel you must know prior to your visit here or most other Sandals resorts:
The first excursion we went on was the Dolphin Swim which is one of the most expensive excursions offered by this resort but it was really neat to have some time to swim with the dolphins and watch them perform tricks up close. After you are able to visit the tourist shops including one where you can purchase photos/video from your dolphin swim. Before visiting we hadn’t realized that the DVDs would be $65+ a piece (depending on if you purchase video footage and how many pictures you would like), so we had only $40 cash. The nice thing about Jamaica is that the local people are always willing to make a bargain and the gentleman that helped us gave us the video footage for $40 because he “didn’t want us to miss out on the memories.” Like I said, very generous! There is also many different wildlife excursions you can visit while you are there as seen below in our photos.
The Blue Hole was one of the best sites we have ever been to. Its crystal blue waterfalls are every bit of the picturesque Jamaica that you dream of. However, since the Blue Hole isn’t recognized by the government as a “tourist attraction” there are some things to think about before you make your trek to this otherwise majestic place. The Blue Hole is on privately owned land, so as far as we understood it, any injuries, loss of property, etc. are not covered by anyone but yourself as you are completely liable if you go. Let us also say that due to this, this is not a “Sandals sponsored excursion” and our butlers were skeptical when we told them of our plans.
We hired a private driver, Andrew Moodie, and he was terrific! We left Sandals around 8am and would highly recommend going early in the morning as later in the day can get busy because it has become more popular with cruise ship tourists, if you are a cruiser get there as early as you can. Since we were the first people there, our guide Neil asked if we wanted to go just the three of us and of course we agreed! He first took us down to the bottom part of the falls, where you will see a lot of the photos of the wide falls and flags/signs hanging on trees. There we jumped into the water for the first time, but be careful! It is so cold it can nearly take your breath away.
After we climbed back up Neil took us to the upper part of the falls. This was a little bit of a hike and some of the terrain was deceivingly hard work to walk across. Neil helped us find easier spots to cross in some areas. By no means is this a hiking expedition, but we would not recommend this activity for those who have health conditions, small children, or for pregnant women. Neil was awesome with taking pictures, he would inform us of certain places that he knew would make a good shot. At the time we had not purchased our GoPro so he used an iPhone 5s with Lifeproof case. He also showed us places to slide down rocks, swim, rope swing, and places for cliff jumping.
At the very top of the falls was the large cone shaped falls that we got to climb down into. Again, we would not recommend it for anyone who has health conditions, small children, is pregnant, or those who are claustrophobic or cannot swim. At this point we had to wiggle ourselves backwards into a hole while lying on our stomachs, one at a time. Neil was the first one in and helped us as we climbed down into the fall. When we dropped down the hole there was a pool and cave that was inside the large cone waterfall! Definitely the coolest part of our trip to Blue Hole!
Travel Tip: when booking excursions we recommend waiting to book them when you get to the resort (with the exception of the Blue Hole). We booked our excursions prior to arriving and realized that they often offer specials each day when they don’t have enough people for an excursion! For example, normally Dunn’s River Falls is roughly $45 per person. One day we saw that they were offering it at $35 per person. We also saw the dolphin excursion for 25% off!
We cannot say enough to applaud our amazing butler’s, Necia and Dacia. From booking reservations at all of the restaurants we wanted to visit at the resort, arranging shuttles, being our chauffeurs, giving us complimentary Jamaican rum, and spending their night off with us so we could get to know them better… they are truly the best! If you are planning to visit this or any Sandals resort for a honeymoon, anniversary, or special occasion we would highly recommend the butler service. However, if we were going for a simple vacation you could definitely opt out and book your reservations and transportation yourself.
Restaurants & Bars
With over 15 restaurants and 11 bars you definitely won’t be going hungry at Ochi Beach! We never grew tired of the food because there were so many varieties of dining options. We absolutely loved Soy Sushi Bar, Valentino’s (Italian), Kelly’s Dockside (fish, steak), and The Manor Restaurant (Jamaican). We also frequently ordered room service in the morning and would put the items in the fridge to have later in the evening. As for the beverages, we loved having the ability to create and try various cocktails and Jamaican rum. None of the drinks were watered down or skimpy on the spirit. We personally loved and recommend trying: Bob Marley, BBC, Rum Punch, Superman, Red Stripe Beer, and the Pina Colada with Melon Liqueur. Our Poolside villa also came stocked with wine, beer, and spirits.
Are there any Jamaican travel tips you have?
What hotels/resorts would you recommend we visit next time?