SuperClub's Runaway Golf Club, at Runaway Bay near Ocho Rios on the north coast (tel. 876/973-7319), charges no fee to guests who stay at any of Jamaica's affiliated SuperClubs. For nonguests, the price is US$80 year-round. Any player can rent carts for US$35 for 18 holes; clubs are US$14 for 18 holes.
Sandals Golf & Country Club (tel. 876/975-0119) is a 6,500-yard course, known for its panoramic scenery some 210m (689 ft.) above sea level. (From the center of Ocho Rios, travel along the main bypass for 3km/2 miles until you reach Mile End Rd. A Texaco station is located at the corner of Mile End Rd. Turn right and drive for another 8km/5 miles until you come to the Sandals course on your right.) The 18-hole, par-71 course was designed by P. K. Saunders and opened in 1951 as the Upton Golf Club. Rolling terrain, lush vegetation, and flowers and fruit trees dominate the course. A putting green and driving range are available for those who wish to hone their skills first. Sandals guests play free; nonguests pay US$25 for 9 holes or US$45 for 18 holes.
In the parish of Trelawny, 25 miles west from Ocho Rios, Braco Stables, near the town of Duncans (tel. 876/954-0185; www.bracostables.com) offers horseback riding that explores the scenic countryside and includes a swim bareback with the horses on a beautiful, private beach.
The stables are on Braco Estate, which dates back to the mid-17th century when it was a sugar factory. The cost of a horseback tour is US$70 per person for 2 hours, plus US$30 per person extra if you want a lunch of barbecue chicken and all the fixins.
Rafting on the White River
You can arrange to go river rafting down the White River to the east of Ocho Rios, a 45-minute drift that takes you down the largest river in the area. The trip is one of the finer ways to spend a day in Ocho Rios when you tire of the beach. You glide along the banks of the river on a 9m (30-ft.) bamboo raft built for two, experiencing the rapids and looking at the lush growth. Halfway down the river you stop at the Jungle Bar for lunch and reggae music. The cost is US$55 per person, including the services of a guide. To reach the site, head east from Ocho Rios to the White River Bridge, a distance of 5km (3 miles). Rafting is possible daily from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Call tel. 876/974-2527 for more information.
Swimming with Dolphins
One of the most-visited attractions in Ocho Rios, Dolphin Cove, North Coast Highway (tel. 876/974-5335; www.dolphincovejamaica.com), attracts thousands of participants from cruise ships every month. Nestled among the seafronting rocks and low cliffs of a location 1.6km (1 mile) west of the center of Ocho Rios is an eco-sensitive series of stone and wire marine pens that are the home to about 16 dolphins. Each of them was caught, usually in fishing nets, off the coast of Mexico, and brought here after months of testing and training at enormous expense, for the amusement of their human counterparts. The headquarters of the venue is a 1950s, lemon-colored villa that functioned for years as the private home of the attraction's Jamaica-born owners, the Burrowes family. Check the photos in the building's entrance. Guests participate in programs that bring them into close encounters with dolphins who cavort, jump in the air, and swallow fish (mostly mackerel and herring imported from the cold waters of Canada) on a schedule that's noted below. Know in advance, however, that there's a lot more on-site than just a view of some sea mammals. The entire 2.8-hectare (7-acre) site has been configured as a self-contained beach and entertainment center that can and often does shelter and amuse cruise ship passengers throughout their ship's stopover in Ocho Rios. Snorkeling and swimming are available from a narrow beachfront. Immediately adjacent is a waterfall cascading directly into the sea from the Chico River. A restaurant features a lunchtime buffet, served daily from noon to 3pm, costing US$15 per person. There is also transport in a glass-bottomed boat for a 30-minute float over the reefs. You have unlimited access to nature trails that meander through a jungle landscape that has been enhanced with the presence of caged birds, caged iguanas, and large yellow boa constrictors held in check by their handlers.
If the idea of swimming with the dolphins appeals to you, you should reserve a place in advance, participate in a 30-minute orientation lecture, put on a life preserver, and then get ready to pet, play with, and in some cases, get pushed or pulled around the watery pen by a well-trained marine mammal.
Dolphin shows are presented daily at 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm. General admission to the compound costs US$50 per person. Enhancements to the general admission cost are noted as follows, and in every case, include general admission to the compound: "Touch the Dolphins" from a seat on the pier costs US$75 per person; a one-on-one encounter in the water with a dolphin goes for US$150 per person; and a two-on-one encounter whereby one swimmer will be pulled along the surface of the water while he/she holds the dolphin's dorsal fins costs US$225 per person. No children 7 and under are allowed in the water with the dolphins.
Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Resort, Main Street, Ocho Rios (tel. 876/974-1027), focuses more on tennis than any other resort in the area. It offers three clay-surface and three hard-surface courts, all lit for night play. Guests play free, day or night, but nonguests must call and make arrangements with the manager. Nonguests can purchase a day pass for US$80 per person. The resort also sponsors twice-a-day clinics for both beginners and advanced players. Frequent guest tournaments are also staged, including handicapped doubles and mixed doubles.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.