The waters of Jamaica offer a unique underwater experience for those travelers interested in scuba diving, enabling vacationers to explore Caribbean aqua life at its very best.
Scuba diving is a sport in which participants are able to explore life underneath the surface of the ocean by utilizing a tank of compressed air strapped to their back in order to breath underwater. Many vacationers make their first dive during a trip to the Caribbean because of the abundance of tropical fish, colorful coral, high visibility, and warm waters.
Negril and its surrounding areas offer the most peaceful diving found in Jamaica, full of caverns and caves for the underwater explorer. There are several highly recommended diving sites that offer guided tours, such as the reefs found in Negril Marine Park. Negril's truly brave visitors can take a break from scuba diving to cliff jump near Rick's Cafe.
The Montego Bay area also offers several unique diving opportunities. Most of the diving sites in MoBay are contained within the Montego Bay Marine Park, which was created in 1990 to help preserve the natural underwater beauty of Jamaica's surrounding sea area. The most famous Montego Bay diving site is Widowmaker's Cave. Enter this cave at 80 feet below sea-level and twist and turn your way back up the 10-foot-wide chimney at 35 feet below. If looking for a more large scale tour, the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory offers outings along the northern coastal area, and those interested should contact the lab when they arrive.
The most astonishing of the Ocho Rios sites is the man-made sunken ship reef. This artificial reef site was created recently 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, coral and to protect the local beaches.
Those wishing to go diving at the sunken city of Port Royal, which sank underwater after the earthquake of 1692, will need to obtain special permission from Jamaican authorities. This is probably best done through local dive operators, who will have the most current and up-to-date information regarding rules about Port Royal.
Low visibility leaves the southern coast of Jamaica largely untouched by divers, particularly surrounding Kingston.
Regardless of where you choose to dive, you will be required to show proof of certification. Resorts often offer training and certification for guests, or you can take dive classes through any local dive shop. Once you have learned the ins and outs of diving, you can expect to pay between $45 and $80(USD) for a one tank dive. On your first dive, your guide will probably take you down about 40 feet below sea level.
Divers need to keep a few things in mind while they're visiting the creatures under the ocean waves:
Be aware of currents and stay watchful of your location. You don't want to end up too far away to return easily.
Wear a watch so you don't lose track of time. It is easy to do underwater.
Don't feed the fish, and don't touch the animals or coral. This may cause their protective layers to be stripped away.
Avoid standing and walking on coral reef, and proceed with caution when in shallow water around reefs. Shuffle your feet to avoid stingrays, and watch out for sea urchins, and spines.
Never wear jewelry. Caribbean fish, barracudas especially, seem drawn to shiny objects that look like their natural prey, small silver fish.
Avoid jellyfish, fire coral and other stinging creatures.
Never reach into holes or crevices; they might be an animal's home, especially moray eels.
Shark sightings are rare, and those that are spotted are usually passive. Keep calm, and if necessary, move slowly out of the water.
Never remove anything from diving sites and reefs; it is illegal to do so.
There are 28 dive services, some dive shops, and at least 16 interesting dive sites in the area.
The dive shops available are listed here:
|(876) 617-2882||The vicinity of Jamaica|
|Sun Divers||(876) 957-4503||Negril, Western part of Jamaica||Jamaica|
If you'd like to go diving, you might want to contact Kellys Watersports. Through their extensive offering of PADI certification courses, divers at every level can learn a little something about the sport. Daily open water dives are available, and if you're traveling with folks who don't want to dive, they may want to participate in a snorkeling tour or ride on the glass bottom boat. They are located in western Jamaica.
Another good option is Couples San Souci Divers. Divers of all skill levels can enjoy their time at Couples. Begin with a complimentary resort course at 9:00 a.m. They can be reached at (876) 994-1206.
A third option is Scubacaribe Ocho Rios. With Scubacaribe, you can dive some of the top underwater sites in the area, including the Katherine Shipwreck, the Ocho Rios Slope, and the Mountains. This center also offers PADI certifications, allowing all levels of divers to enhance their training. They're found within the vicinity of Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
Be sure to look at the following table to learn more about dive service operators.
|Barrett Adventures Scuba||(876) 382-6384||1.9 mi. South West of Central Montego Bay|
|Beaches Boscobel Diving||(876) 975-7777||2.2 mi. West of Central Oracabessa|
|Beaches Negril||(876) 957-9270||2.9 mi. North of Central Negril|
|Couples Negril Divers||(876) 957-5960||4.9 mi. North of Central Negril|
|Couples San Souci Divers||(876) 994-1206||Ocho Rios, Northeastern part of Jamaica|
|Couples Swept Away Diving||(876) 957-4061||2.6 mi. North of Central Negril|
|Dive Seaworld||(876) 953-2180||3.7 mi. Northeast of Central Montego Bay|
|Dream Team Divers||(876) 957-0054||Negril Beach Hotel Zone|
|Dressel Divers Montego Bay||(+34) 963 561 496||1.9 mi. Northeast of Central Spot Valley|
|Hedonism II Diving||(876) 957-5200||1.5 mi. North of Central Negril Beach Hotel Zone|
|Jamaica Scuba Divers||(876) 957-4503||Negril Beach Hotel Zone|
|Jewel Runaway Bay Resort Diving||(876) 633-4000||Runaway Bay, Northern part of Jamaica|
|Kellys Watersports||(876) 893-2859||2.0 mi. South West of Central Montego Bay|
|Lady G'Diver||(876) 715-5957||Port Antonio, Eastern part of Jamaica|
|Marine Life Divers||(876) 957-3245||1.3 mi. West of Central Negril|
|Negril Scuba Center||(876) 957-4425||0.3 mi. North of Central Negril|
|(876) 957-4522||Negril Beach Hotel Zone|
|Resort Divers Ocho Rios||(876) 973-7866||Ocho Rios|
|Resort Divers Runaway Bay||(876) 973-7866||Runaway Bay, Northern part of Jamaica|
|SNUBA Dive Experience||(876) 818-2340||0.7 mi. West-Northwest of Central Montego Bay|
|Sandals Negril Diving||(876) 957-5216||1.3 mi. North of Central Negril Beach Hotel Zone|
|Sandals Royal Caribbean Diving||(876) 953-2231||2.3 mi. North-Northeast of Central Montego Bay|
|Sandals Whitehouse Diving||(876) 640-3000||1.8 mi. Northwest of Central Whitehouse|
|--||Runaway Bay, Northern part of Jamaica|
|Scubacaribe Montego Bay||(876) 953-2180||3.8 mi. Northeast of Central Montego Bay|
|Scubacaribe Negril||(876) 509-0862||2.0 mi. North of Central Negril Beach Hotel Zone|
|Scubacaribe Ocho Rios||(876) 972-7558||2.3 mi. East of Central St. Ann's Bay|
|Scubaquatic Jamaica||(876) 973-7000 ext. 500||Runaway Bay, Northern part of Jamaica|
Check out the table just below to get a feel for the approximate cost of typical dive services in this area.
|Offering Type||Low Rate||High Rate|
|Discover Scuba||$ 80.0||$ 126.0|
|Double Tank Dive||$ 70.0||$ 700.0|
|Night Dive||$ 55.0||$ 95.0|
|Open Water Certification||$ 350.0||$ 500.0|
|Single Tank Dive||$ 40.0||$ 70.0|
A few details concerning some of the area's better-known dive sites are provided in the table below.
|Very Good||All Divers||110.0||--||18.4078287873||-76.97947|
|Very Good||Advanced Open Water / CMAS **||150.0||--||18.500368||-77.929583|
|Good||Open Water / CMAS *||60.0||< 1 knot||18.4649609079||-77.3278713239|
|Good||All Divers||23.0||< 1 knot||18.2669197637||-78.3678174071|
|Good||All Divers||45.3||< 1 knot||18.4669715981||-77.936797142|
|Good||Open Water / CMAS *||40.0||< 1 knot||18.0879031029||-77.969391346|
|Good||Advanced Open Water / CMAS **||95.1||< 1 knot||18.2961103866||-78.356552124|
|Excellent||Advanced Open Water / CMAS **||90.0||--||18.5369084734||-77.8875732422|
To learn more about snorkeling, including useful tips and suggestions for both "old pros" and beginners, check out this exhaustive discussion of scuba diving in the Caribbean.
Jamaica has plenty of beautiful sights for both snorkeling and diving, but it is always best to keep safety in mind when planning the underwater aspect of your vacation.
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