Snorkeling Around Jamaica

Photo credit: © Mircea Bezergheanu |

Whether you stick close to the beach or head out for an offshore excursion, the waters that surround the island of Jamaica are bursting with a vibrant sea life that is almost unimaginable.  The chance to spend some time under the surface in the calm peacefulness while viewing everything from massive coral reef systems to the tiniest of fish is made possible with the use of a simple contraption called a snorkel.  

Snorkeling occurs when a person wearing a dive mask and snorkel uses the snorkeling tube to breath in air from above as they float just below the surface of the water.  Fins and a floatation device also aid in the process.  If you are in a place like Jamaica where the visibility is usually between 70 and 100 feet, the water temperatures usually remain above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and there are many calm bodies of water, you'll be able to spend hours of uninterrupted time exploring the majestic underwater world.

Sites you can expect to see will vary by location and time of year, but it is not uncommon to spot  squirrelfish, angelfish, clownfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish, barjacks, chromis, wrasses, stingrays, eagle rays, turtles, and rock lobsters making homes and hunting for food within elkhorn, bubble, brain, red cauliflower, star, and torch corals, plus sea fans, sea cucumbers, and much more. 

Because some of the best snorkeling sites exist a coral reef systems that are too far offshore to swim to, many accommodations offer snorkeling excursions to their guests. If you are not staying at one of these locations, there are still options.  There are some companies that specialize specifically in snorkeling tours, many dive shops offer snorkelers the chance to ride out with them when they take scuba divers to explore, and there are regular tour guides that often include a bit of snorkeling as part of a day around the island. You also have the option of renting a snorkeling kit and hitting all of the spots that have intrigued you on your own.

Snorkeling Sites

If you're ready to see what's down below you might want to visit Rockhouse. On CNNs list of the top underwater sites to photograph, this snorkeling destination feature underwater caves and grottoes teeming with silverfish and snake eels. This snorkeling site is situated in the vicinity of Negril, in the western part of Jamaica.

Doctor's Cave Beach is another option. Warm spring water flows into this beach keeping the temperature extra warm and the visibility even clearer than normal for snorkelers. Underwater, the sites include gorgeous coral reef and friendly fish that are so used to tourists in their territory that they'll swim right up to your hand.

A third location to consider is Coyaba Reef. The diverse underwater habitat that exists in this offshore reef includes chromis, parrotfish, wrasse, and more. Snorkelers should monitor conditions on a daily basis because the waters here can sometimes be rough.

A fourth location where you can go snorkeling is Font Hill Beach. A reef just offshore is popular among snorkelers staying in the area for its abundance of friendly, colorful fish darting about. If you're interested, you'll find this site located in Jamaica.

Montego Beach is a fifth location to consider. A popular spot among tourists, this underwater park has everything you could hope to see in the waters that surround Jamaica including shallow reefs and steep vertical dropoffs.

The table just below lists more details regarding 20 of the most popular places to experience snorkeling in this area.

Snorkeling Sites Near Jamaica
Site Location
Rockhouse 1.5 mi. West-Southwest of Central Negril
Doctor's Cave Beach 0.9 mi. Northwest of Central Montego Bay
Coyaba Reef 4.3 mi. Northeast of Central Montego Bay
Font Hill Beach 3.6 mi. West of Central Black River
Montego Beach 1.1 mi. North-Northwest of Central Montego Bay
Treasure Beach 2.2 mi. Southeast of Central Treasure Beach
Runaway Beach 0.5 mi. East-Northeast of Central Runaway Bay
San San Beach 1.2 mi. East of Central Drapers
Runaway Beach 0.7 mi. Northeast of Central Runaway Bay
Bogue Lagoon 2.5 mi. South West of Central Montego Bay
Parkers Bay 1.4 mi. South-Southeast of Central New Hope
Pear Tree River 1.4 mi. West of Central Runaway Bay
Rio Bueno Bay 0.7 mi. East of Central Rio Bueno
Boston Bay Beach 1.0 mi. East of Central Fairy Hill
Bluefields Beach 1.5 mi. North of Central Belmont
Booby Cay 4.6 mi. North of Central Negril
Joseph's Cave 1.8 mi. South West of Central Negril
Negril Reef 3.0 mi. North of Central Negril
Frenchman's Bay Downtown Treasure Beach
Lime Cay 6.6 mi. South of Central Kingston

Snorkeling Boat Trips

Some people believe the most enjoyable snorkeling is located off shore.

If you'd like to go snorkeling during a boating adventure, you can check with Sea Shell Charters. Captain Phil and the rest of the Sea Shell Charters crew welcome you to explore Negril with them aboard one of their 4 vessels where you may enjoy a variety of water activities.

Another option to investigate is Island Charter Co.. There are four customized cruises available, including a couples cruise and a spa getaway. Sunset cruising, snorkeling gear, swimming, and trips to places like Rick's Cafe and Sands Reef are offered. They're located within Negril Beach Hotel Zone, in western Jamaica.

Still another option is Sunbaby Glass Bottom Boat. Tours include snorkeling at Sandy Reef, shoreline sightseeing tours, river rides, sunset cruises, fishing trips, and a picnic at Booby Cay Island. Any snorkeling and safety equipment you need will be provided by Captain Roger and his crew.

Some details about day sails and boat trips that offer snorkeling opportunities can be found in the following table.

Day Sails and Boat Trips On Jamaica
Name Phone Location
Barrett Adventures Sailing (876) 382-6384 1.9 mi. South West of Central Montego Bay
Dreamer Catamaran Cruises (876) 979-0102 The vicinity of Montego Bay, Northwestern part of Jamaica
Island Charter Co. (876) 878-2287 4.6 mi. North of Central Negril
Mike's Glass Bottom Boat (876) 847-7699 2.9 mi. North of Central Negril
Sea Shell Charters (876) 875-4167 0.4 mi. West of Central Orange Bay
Sunbaby Glass Bottom Boat (876) 485-4023 0.5 mi. North of Central Negril

Snorkeling Services

If you're looking for a business that offers snorkeling excursions, rentals, or other services, you might want to contact Dressel Divers Montego Bay. Dressel Divers Montego Bay offers clear and lively waters. Certain areas in Montego Bay are considered natural parks and are perfect sites for snorkelers and fish to meet. They are found in northwestern Jamaica.

A second place catering to snorkelers is Stingray City Jamaica. This is your chance to swim with the rays. This tour guide offers guests a trip out to one of the most popular sandbars among snorkelers looking to interact with sting rays, and they also take photos of the experience so you'll be able to bring the experience home with you.

A third option is Kelly's Water Sports. The tour lasts for 90 minutes and brings you to one of the most gorgeous reef systems in the area with the help of a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide. They're located in western Jamaica.

Check the following table for more information regarding 6 companies that provide snorkeling related services.

Snorkeling Services On Jamaica
Name Type Phone Location
Barrett Adventures Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (876) 382-6384 1.9 mi. South West of Central Montego Bay
Dressel Divers Montego Bay Snorkeling Tour Operator (+34) 963 561 496 1.9 mi. Northeast of Central Spot Valley
Juju Tours Snorkeling Tour Operator (876) 833-2921 62.7 mi. West of Central Discovery Bay
Kelly's Water Sports Snorkeling Tour Operator (876) 893-2859 1.6 mi. West-Southwest of Central downtown Montego Bay
Stingray City Jamaica Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (876) 726-1630 0.9 mi. East of Central Boscobel
Sun Divers Watersports Snorkeling Tour Operator (876) 957-4503 Negril, Western part of Jamaica

To learn more concerning snorkeling, including helpful suggestions and tips for both "old pros" and beginners, check out this exhaustive discussion of snorkeling in the Caribbean.

Some of the best snorkeling in the world is said to be found in the waters that surround Jamaica, and with so many ways to get out and see why the sport is so loved, there is no excuse not to give it a try.  


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