Scuba Diving Near Jamaica

The scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities found in Jamaica are not to be missed

Photo Credit: © Ricardo Mangual CC BY
 

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

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.

Montego Bay

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.

Ocho Rios

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.

Kingston and Surrounding Area

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.

Tips

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.

  • Consider using a dive flag, which will warn other boaters that you are under water in the area.

There are 29 dive services, some dive shops, and at least 16 different dive sites in the area.

Dive Operators and Shops

The dive shops worth considering are provided in the table below.

Dive Shops Near Jamaica
Name Phone Location Island
Fishermen & Divers Paradise (876) 617-2882 The vicinity of Jamaica
Sun Divers (876) 957-4503 Negril, Western part of Jamaica Jamaica
Waves Aquatic Superstore (876) 924-6946 Portmore Jamaica
Kellys Watersports

If you want to go diving, you should consider Kellys Watersports. Specializing in a variety of watersports including glass bottom boat tours, snorkeling, wakeboaring, and everyone's favorite, scuba diving, this popular facility thinks exploring local marine life is an important part of any trip to Jamaica. They are found within 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. You can reach them at (876) 994-1206.

Still another option is Scubacaribe Ocho Rios. The largest dive operation in the Caribbean, there are more than 20 Scubacaribe locations around the world. This center in particular specializes in scuba diving courses and daily dives despite also offering a great deal of other watersports options. They're located in the vicinity of Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Some key facts concerning the area's dive operators can be seen in the table below.

Dive Operators Near Jamaica
Name Phone Location
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 1.7 mi. West-Southwest of Central downtown 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 Fun Diving (876) 842-3155 0.9 mi. North of Central Negril
Negril Scuba Center (876) 957-4425 0.3 mi. North of Central Negril
Ocean Tours Water Sports (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
Scuba Jamaica -- 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

Dive Services

The chart directly below lists the typical cost of dive services in this area.

Dive Services
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

Dive Sites

The table below provides you with some key facts concerning some of the area's better-known dive sites.

Dive Sites Near Jamaica
Name Quality Experience Max Depth Current Latitude Longitude
Beaches Boscobel Very Good All Divers 110.0 -- 18.4078287873 -76.97947
Shark Reef Good -- 70.0 -- 18.4603964006 -78.1653213488
Airport Wall Very Good Advanced Open Water / CMAS ** 150.0 -- 18.500368 -77.929583
Alligator Reef -- -- -- -- 17.8072487475 -77.5425124142
Booby Cay Good -- 60.0 -- 18.3377149646 -78.3479328
Breezes Runaway Bay Good Open Water / CMAS * 60.0 < 1 knot 18.4649609079 -77.3278713239
Coral Head Reef Good -- 60.0 -- 18.3023806 -78.347625732
Dancing Eel Reef Very Good -- 35.0 -- 18.5154750233 -78.0240402222
Joseph's Cave Good All Divers 23.0 < 1 knot 18.2669197637 -78.3678174071
Montego Bay Caverns Very Good -- 30.0 -- 18.5072971021 -77.9352159138
Montego Bay Dive Good All Divers 45.3 < 1 knot 18.4669715981 -77.936797142
Runaway Bay Wall Good -- -- -- 18.4676138668 -77.3315257683
Samuel's Bay Marine Park -- -- 60.0 -- 18.381737 -78.313588
Shaw Reef Good Open Water / CMAS * 40.0 < 1 knot 18.0879031029 -77.969391346
Tugboat Good Advanced Open Water / CMAS ** 95.1 < 1 knot 18.2961103866 -78.356552124
Widowmakers Cave Excellent Advanced Open Water / CMAS ** 90.0 -- 18.5369084734 -77.8875732422

To learn more about diving, including tips and suggestions for both beginners and experienced divers, check out our extensive 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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