There are a thousand places to ‘lyme’ all over St Ann, from big venues with booming music to tiny hill shacks to explore should you choose to ‘taxi it’ around the parish.
Ochi has a high density of drinking dens of every standing, countless places to spend a civilised afternoon, ogling passers-by in a gentle haze of liquid refreshment and Vienna sausage.
Conversely, as nighttime slides sensuously in, a trawl of some of the same bars is not for the the faint-hearted or the quiet-drink-loving man and his wife. Evenings out in real Ochi are louder, more lively affairs, crackling with the energy of the massive to the heated clash of dominoes and pounding dancehall from passing cars.
And if a wilder night with dancing and abandoned debauchery is what you seek, several nosebleed-volume nightclubs are open till way past ordinary folks’ bedtimes — just follow the sound.
Leaving the ‘touristy’ area and heading downtown
The freshly-scrubbed west of Ochi was evolved to indulge the squillions of seafarers who disembark daily without wishing to walk too far into town, but drinks (like everything else) are far less easy-on-the-pocket* at this ‘touristy’ end.
Venture a little further and you’ll find some good vantage points to park your bum and enjoy something potent and fruity as you rubberneck the regular influx of lobster-faced thrill-seekers.
*See the BE WATCHFUL section way below.
JOHN CROW’S TAVERN
The first bar we recommend as you mosey on into town is at 10 Main Street, gracious and open-fronted with outdoor seating for some folk-watching to the lilting Trini calypso from an occasional steel pan player. Plus exotica akimbo on Wednesdays from 8.00pm with a touch of Noche Latina from our friend Simone — free tuition in Salsa and Bachata, followed by unabashed Latin high-life on the dance floor and some felicitous food chucked in. Find John Crow’s Tavern on Instagram and Facebook. Look on the map for Red 16 ►
Bars We Love in and around the Market
The following Market Area bars are our own personal faves, but it is fun to explore their plentiful companions too. There are dozens of little welcoming shacks and holes-in-the-wall spread out between Main Street and the Ochi Transport Centre and, if you can forgive the odd vulgar wall mural or wobbly barstool, they are all well worth a daytime gargle.
Remember, this part of town is far from affluent and things can sometimes look a little shabby, but the ‘vibe’ is contagious and your custom is always appreciated.
As Diamond Dave says, “My favourite jeans are the ones with the holes in.”
Ochi Market. Always crammed with locals so it must be good. An old, traditional bar with a charming ‘history of Ochi’ montage along the actual bar top (not that you can see it when it’s busy, but look for the newspaper headline “Wife Flees Husband Because Of His Oversized Member”... it’s a scream). Red 1 ►
BRIXTON REGGAE LOUNGE
At the bottom of the rubbly Chuck’s Plaza (next to the Singer store), Main Street. This large, airy establishment, found to your right up some outside narrow stairs and along a little walkway, is one we adore. Festooned with car parts, ephemera and assorted nic-nacs, pool tables and an open terrace too. Red 2 ►
On Main Street, right opposite the Singer store, Regina’s little thrill shack has value drinks, food on the go, and her regular ‘theme night’ Tipsy Saturday. Busy at all times, Qutie's bar is popular with overseas visitors who ignore resort protocol to venture to the east end of town. View Regina’s very own OCHI INSIDER page. Red 3 ►
Known locally as Fathead’s, this small bar just inside the market off Main Street is full of locals and offers a friendly stop-off point when bar hopping. Grab a stool. Red 4 ►
OASIS & GAZA BARS
A busy backstreet area near the Transport Center edge of the market boasts a couple of separate little Jamaican bar experiences under one roof; a much-loved shack/gazebo where the music is loud and strings of colored lights add an evening sparkle. Red 5 ►
Bars We Love down James Avenue
Next up, Ochi’s tourism central in the 1940s and ‘50s, James Avenue is still a happening focal point. Though less showy today, some buildings retain an ‘Old Jamaica’ feel and, with a bit of spit and polish, this street could become the ‘Heart of Ochi’ once more. And why ever not?
Many Sports Bars have sprung up along this hotbed of high jinks in recent years. Check out the following crowd-pleasers down this busy stretch:
Arsenal Sports Bar at the famed Jack Ruby Plaza. Look on the map for Red 6 ►
The Top Line Bar is up the stairs at Red 7 ►
Anan Home & Away Bar, named in homage to the beautiful game, is at Red 8 ►
The Unique Jungle Bar, unique in a jungly sort of way, Red 9 ►
The Royalty Bar, Grill & Club above which is the Sky Life rooftop bar, both at Red 10 ►
Find the far-out Fi Wi Bar at Red 11 ►
Another rooftop bar, the fruitily-named Mango Tree, Red 12 ►
MISS ROSE’S TAVERN BAR
Just behind the Jack Ruby mural at the top of James Avenue, we love our friend Miss Rose’s simple and unassuming little Tavern bar. Do tell her we sent you! Look on the map for Red 13 ►
Follow the road to the right at the very bottom of James Avenue. Seekers guesthouse has a little open bar shack tucked away in its leafy grounds which gives us joy. And there’s a simple but noisier upstairs pool hall too if you’re feeling tough. More on Facebook. Red 14 ►
Across the town, the beaches, the parks, the whole parish, there are events and parties almost round the clock. You’ll see the latest, most up-to-date event flyers and posters everywhere should wigglin’ an’ a-twigglin’ (whatever that is) be among your plans for the evening.
8 RIVAZ ULTRA LOUNGE
Upstairs at Beecham Plaza, Main Street. Very stylish bar, nightclub and roof lounge with a different theme every night of the week. Get this lot: Martini Mondays, Tuesday Ladies’ Night, Wednesday Live Music, Thursday Dancehall Night, Glow Fridays, International Night on Saturdays and Old Skool Music on Sundays. More on Instagram and Facebook. Red 18 ►
70 Main Street, smack dab in the centre of town. Loud reggae, dancehall and excitement evermore at “the club to remember”. Sipping Sunday and Rum Tuesday are jumping but Thursday is Ladies’ Night with free entry (so to speak) so beware of excitable Ja girls daggerin’ up to you. Follow on Instagram and like on Facebook. Red 19 ►
CLUB SANTIAGO GO-GO
Dark, small earthy nightclub with dancing girls on a stage, Club Santiago is just a few steps south of Ochi clock tower. You may have to give ‘em a knock on the door to let you in. Red 21 ►
We do not list some bars in or around the ‘touristy’ area for charging up to three times the price for a bottle of Red Stripe compared to bars downtown. Being hustled on the streets you would expect anywhere you go… being grossly overcharged at well-to-do bars makes us wonder who is doing the real hustling.
We exclude another bar here due to a disparity between their tariff and the actual prices on the receipt. Wilson questioned the cashier why this was so, but was told this was “company policy” and only the owner could authorise a refund but he had “gone away”. This indefensible practice is clearly in place to take advantage of tourists who are either not familiar with the currency or have too little time to complain. Well.
And besides, wouldn’t you rather be downtown quaffing fruity drinks with the locals rather than mingling yet again with the same everyday crowd from your cruise ship?