When most speak of Ocho Rios, they generally include areas from Discovery Bay on the west to Oracabessa on the east.

The history of Ocho Rios is long and rich, with influences from ancient Taino Indian culture, African, European, East Indian, Lebanese and Chinese decendants and reggae roots all playing a role during different times periods.  Primarily, the history of Ocho Rios is the story of an island culture melding and emerging to become an area rich with its own unique culture.

Ocho Rios was originally settled by the a tribe of Arawak Indians called Taino, who had settled in Jamaica at around 1,000 BC and called the land Xamayca, meaning land of wood and water. After Christopher Columbus landed in 1494 and claimed the island for Spain, Ocho Rios was names Chorreros meaning rapid rivers. The Tainos were ultimately obliterated by disease, slavery and war. Some also committed suicide, presumably to escape their conditions as slaves. Spain brought the first African slaves to Jamaica in 1517 as labourers to work on plantations throughout Jamaica, including Ocho Rios.

In May 1655, British forces seized the island from the Spanish.  The English misunderstood, misinterpreted and mispronounced the Spanish name Chorreros and called the town Ocho Rios, which sounded close enough. In 1657 and 1658 the Spanish, sailing from Cuba, failed to retake the island in fierce battles in and around Ocho Rios. 

Historically, Ocho Rios had never acquired any prominent role to either the English or the Spanish. It was, however, utilised by pirates who along with Port Royal, regarded it as a perfect base of operations.

Slavery was not abolished in the island until 1834. The late nineteenth century was a time of poverty in Ocho Rios, but it was also a time of growth and celebration, as the newly freed slaves began to work towards gaining other types of freedom in the area.   Patterns of growth and decline continued throughout the twentieth century.

In the late twentieth century, the beaches of Jamaica, including the many beautiful beaches of Ocho Rios, began to be recognized as a tourist attraction.  Today, Ocho Rios extends four miles between Dunn's River Falls, two miles to the west of the town centre and the White River, two miles to the east. Almost all the development outside the centre is to the east.

In the last twenty five years, "Ochie" has grown from a small fishing village to a world class tourist destination as the area developed a tourist-based economy.