Jamaica's No 2 tourist magnet is about 70 miles from Montego Bay and around the same distance from Kingston. Ocho Rios sounds like ochos rios, Spanish for eight rivers. A more likely name derivation is the corrupting of Las Chorreras, meaning waterfalls. Dunn's River Falls, after all, is Ochee's main claim to tourism fame. A collection of waterfalls tumbles helter-skelter about 600 feet from top to bottom. This is the place to really "get down," act a little juvenile and silly, if you will. Join a line of crazy tourists slippin' and slidin' as they cavort on the edge of a cascade of water.
Nearby Fern Gully is well stocked with about 500 varieties of Jamaican ferns. Also see Coyaba River Garden and Museum. Its gardens include multi-coloured New Guinea impatiens, nicknamed Busy Lizzie for their profusion of blossoms. When Shari Belafonte, daughter of singer Harry Belafonte, made a travel video on Jamaica, Coyaba was one of her favourite stops. Coyaba, after all, means paradise in the ancient Arawak language. Remnants of Arawak ways include ceramic zemi, figurines representing gods of the sun and rain, so important in the Arawak agricultural economy. Coyaba has a fine stand of bauhina trees, also known as Poor Man's Orchid. That's because its hundreds of blossoms look like smallish, pinkish-purplish orchid blooms. While you are in botanical mode, check out Shaw Park Botanical Gardens. Among favourite flowers in this mini-Eden are heliconias, white ginger lilies (oh, what a great perfume scent they make!), and red shrimp plants. The latter look edible but they aren't.
Head east out of Ocho Rios and you will come to James Bond Beach. A little farther on is Sir Noel Coward's hilltop estate (and burial site) known as Firefly. Built in 1941, Firefly was primarily Sir Noel's painting studio. Sir Noel claimed Sir Winston Churchill was his mentor and inspiration in the art line. Firefly's simplicity seems almost not good enough for such Sir Noel guests as Her Imperial Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mum, last British Empress of India. The Queen-Empress talked it up so much that daughter Queen Elizabeth II once popped by for a spot of tea. In the last act of Sir Noel's dramatic life, he had himself buried on a hill about a thousand feet high. Here is a panoramic view of the Caribbean at its prettiest best - literally a view to die for.
Not all that far from Firefly is another literary shrine, namely the home of Ian Fleming. Until his death in 1964, Fleming lived and wrote in his hilltop home he called Goldeneye. That's where he dreamed up James Bond, named after a real James Bond, the birdwatcher and author of The Birds of the West Indies. The movie Bond was more interested in "birds" of a different kind.
Heading further east you'll find Port Antonio's beaches, gardens, waterfalls and pools. This is banana country - made famous by Harry Belafonte's hypnotic Banana Boat Song. Hollywood film star the late Errol Flynn also loved this part of Jamaica. At one time, Flynn owned a coconut plantation on the island's touristy north shore. Flynn put river rafting on the list of popular tourist options. How? He simply rafted with banana entrepreneurs shipping their fruit via raft down the Rio Grande, Jamaica's most important river. He had such a blast everybody else wanted to join in on the fun. Now maybe it's your turn.