Travel Tips & Features

Diving in Jamaica

Written by Staff Writer

Jamaica’s dazzling waters invite divers to experience underwater exploration at its most exciting. Diving and snorkeling excursions throughout the island let vacationers enjoy their Caribbean surroundings, where caverns and caves host a myriad of sea life.

Diving sites throughout Jamaica offer guided tours so you can get the most from your diving experience. In Negril and the surrounding area, you will find peaceful diving conditions, with crannies to explore and experience, preferably armed with a good underwater camera. The Throne Room, located 65 feet below sea level, presents explorers with a 40-foot-wide cavern filled with wall-to-wall yellow sponges. The Arch offers excellent photography opportunities for red sponges.

If you seek more lively company while you’re diving, visit Rock Cliff Reef and swim with eels in their natural habitat. Even more exciting is Sharks Reef, which lives up to its name serving as a home for nurse sharks in abundance.

Montego Bay, another diving haven, offers sites within the Montego Bay Marine Park. The park was created in 1990 to preserve the natural underwater beauty of Jamaica’s surrounding sea area. The most famous site in Montego Bay is Widowmaker’s Cave, 80 feet below sea level, with twists and turns up a 10-foot-wide chimney that sits 35 feet below the surface. You’ll feel almost as if you’re riding a roller coaster as you shimmy and wiggle your way into this water wonderland. For a larger scale tour, visit the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory, where you can explore the northern coastal area.

Less experienced divers may want to stay closer to shore until they gain more confidence. Visit Runaway Bay, where you can have a truly amazing experience not far from the beach. Spanish Anchor and Shipwreck Reef and Canyon are great locations for observing sponges, sea whips and a variety of coral. Ricky’s Reef, at 90 feet deep, is a fantastic spot for photographing gorgonians and lettuce coral.

Make Ocho Rios a stop on your diving vacation for a stunning site at the man-made sunken reef. The artificial reef site was created when Fantasy Divers, the National Resources Conservation Division and the Port Authority worked together to sink a non-working old minesweeper to create a habitat for fish and coral, and to protect the local beaches.

The sunken city of Port Royal, which fell into the ocean after the earthquake of 1692, requires special permission from the Jamaican government for a diving permit. Best obtained from local dive operators, the permit allows divers to experience a truly magnificent underwater adventure. Rules regarding this dive site may change, so be sure to check with local operators for the most current information.

Diving in Jamaica promises to provide some wide-eyed wonder and gorgeous images to commemorate a great vacation. Suit up and dive in—you’ll find the water is quite fine.

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Staff Writer