Jamaica lies within the Caribbean, which is known worldwide for its near-perfect sailing conditions. The water is always warm and there are plenty of beautiful islands to visit. Jamaica itself is not widely regarded as a top sailing spot, however, that should not deter interested travelers.
Although it is far from the most popular way to reach Jamaica, intrepid sailors think nothing of climbing aboard a boat and sailing to and around the island. Chartered and personal boats can certainly be sailed into any number of harbors around Jamaica, and those looking for a day of sailing fun have the option of hopping aboard a party boat or procuring a day rental.
Jamaica is an excellent place to host an event on the water. Everything from weddings to birthday parties to product launches can be hosted aboard a large vessel that will accommodate upwards of 100 people. These types of boats are called Party Boats.
Selecting a crewed charter can be more difficult than some would think, but one possible oversight is crew compatibility. Traveling for weeks with a crew means you'll get to know them very well, and this can be difficult if crew and passengers dislike each other. To help solve this problem, charter brokers step in.
Throughout the Caribbean you'll find plenty of different charter companies. These companies, like any other, come in many sizes. First-time charterers are generally guided toward the larger companies. A smaller company may have a great reputation, but should a boat you requested be unavailable, smaller companies might not have the ability to replace it with an equivalent ship, where larger companies will usually offer a similar or even larger boat at no extra cost. However, some of the smallest companies have purposefully stayed small to maintain their customer service standards.
Another way to divide charter companies is into "tiers." These tiers say nothing about the quality or service of the company, but instead the newness of the yachts being chartered. First tier companies have the best boats, and largest number of extras. Boats older than four or five years are usually sold to second tier companies if they are in good condition. First tier companies will cost more for a charter, but boats may include goodies such as the auto pilot function, GPS systems, stereos and cell phones.
Thinking about renting a charter boat? The following table shows how to reach area charter companies.
|--||Downtown Ocho Rios|
|(876) 979-0102||The vicinity of Montego Bay|
|924-8685-6||Palisadoes Park - Portmore|
Private sailing boats to Jamaica must enter the country through an official port of entry. Immigration and customs services are available at the following ports:
Fly your "Q" flag when sailing into port. If you want to spend time cruising around Jamaica, the customs officers can issue you a "Coastwide Clearance" form. This form allows you to sail at will along the coast and must be presented when visiting other ports.
Contemplating traveling to Jamaica using your own vessel, or one you charter elsewhere? Take a look at the listing that follows to get summary information for nearby marinas.
|--||Portland Caye - Portland Cay||Portland Cay|
|--||San San Bay - 3.9 mi. (6.2 km) East of Port Antonio||Jamaica|
|--||Salt Bay - 16.4 mi. (26.3 km) East of Ocho Rios||Jamaica|
|--||Port Maria Beach - 13.3 mi. (21.4 km) East of Ocho Rios||Jamaica|
|--||Oracabessa Harbor - Oracabessa||Jamaica|
|--||Ocho Rios Bay - Downtown Ocho Rios||Jamaica|
|--||St. Ann's Bay - St. Ann's Bay||Jamaica|
|--||Discovery Bay - Discovery Bay||Jamaica|
|--||Rio Bueno Bay - 7.7 mi. (12.4 km) West of Runaway Bay||Jamaica|
|--||Bogue Lagoon - 2.1 mi. (3.4 km) South West of Montego Bay||Jamaica|
|--||Alligator Reef - 15.4 mi. (24.7 km) East-Southeast of Treasure Beach||Jamaica|
|--||Mosquito Cove - 12.5 mi. (20.2 km) West of Montego Bay||Jamaica|
|--||Tom Pipers Bay - 15.7 mi. (25.2 km) West of Montego Bay||Jamaica|
|--||Green Island Bay - Green Island||Jamaica|
|--||Bloody Bay - 5.5 mi. (8.9 km) North of Negril||Jamaica|
|--||15.6 mi. (25.1 km) East-Southeast of Negril||Jamaica|
|--||Bluefields Bay - 14.4 mi. (23.2 km) Northwest of Black River||Jamaica|
|--||Crab Pond Bay - Crab Pond Bay||Jamaica|
|--||Pedro Bay - Treasure Beach||Jamaica|
|--||Port Kaiser - 10.1 mi. (16.3 km) East of Treasure Beach||Jamaica|
|--||Half Moon Cays|
|--||Bare Bush Cay||Bare Bush Cay|
|--||Salt Island||Salt Island|
|--||Coquar Bay - 10.8 mi. (17.4 km) South of Spanish Town||Jamaica|
|--||Pigeon Island||Pigeon Island|
|--||Manatee Bay - 10.0 mi. (16.2 km) South of Spanish Town||Jamaica|
|--||Wreck Bay - 10.4 mi. (16.8 km) South of Spanish Town||Jamaica|
|--||Montego Freeport - Port Antonio||Jamaica|
You will need to clear customs when you arrive at your first port and also when you depart from Jamaica's territorial waters. Customs officers will indicate to the captain when they have inspected the ship and cleared it through customs. You will need to fill out several forms at customs, including the following:
There may also be a standard form to be completed in triplicate. This form replaces the crew list and requires details of the ship's flag, registration, last port of call and information about each person on board including full name, date of birth, passport number, nationality, and position on the ship.
The Quarantine Officer will tell you when the "Q" flag may be lowered. He will also require a few items as well. Carry a crew list and a maritime declaration of health provided by a quarantine official, to be signed by the captain and including any bill of health or DE-RAT certificate from the last port of call. Unless travelers have visited countries in which the World Health Organization has reported a communicable disease within the past six weeks, vaccinations are not required.
Immigration officials will need to see a crew list and passports or proof of citizenship. Visitors from countries outside of the US may need 30-day visas before they arrive. Travelers will also need to pass through Immigration for stays longer than six months.
If you're interested in spending at least part of your Jamaican vacation on the open sea, there are multitudes of options available to you. Whether you choose to sail to the island aboard a chartered yacht, hire a party boat for a night of fun, or spend a day in the Caribbean sea jet skiing and sailing around the island, the opportunity is there.
Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.