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'd like to see what's below the surface you might enjoy visiting 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 located within 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 site 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 place to 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 want to check it out, you'll find this site situated 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.

Some key information about 20 of the most popular places where you can experience snorkeling in this area are listed in the table below.

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 best snorkeling is accessed away from the shore.

If you're hoping to combine some snorkeling with a boating adventure, you can check with Dreamer Catamaran Cruises. Dreamer Catamaran Cruises features three yachts and two locations: Montego Bay and Negril. Both scheduled tours and private charters are available, so you may have fun with close friends and family or meet new people.

Another option to investigate is Barrett Adventures. Barrett Adventures caters to those with an adventurous spirit, and their staff is dedicated to creating a thrilling and authentic experience of Jamaica to their guests. They have been in business for over 20 years. They're located in western Jamaica.

Still another option is Sea Shell Charters. Their fleet consists of the 28' Dusky offshore fishing boat, 26' Dusky fishing boat, 35' Colombia sloop, and a glass bottom boat. Featured activities include authentic Jamaican culture tours, glass bottom boat tours, river tours, sailing, snorkeling, and deep sea fishing, to name a few.

Review the table just below to see boat operators that offer snorkeling opportunities.

Day Sails and Boat Trips On Jamaica
Name Phone Location
Barrett Adventures (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) 430-0596 4.6 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 someone offering snorkel rentals, excursions, or similar services, you might want to contact 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. They are located in Jamaica.

A second company that offers snorkeling related services is Sun Divers Watersports. This locally owned shop is all about fun and inviting every guest into their family of watersports enthusiasts. Diving is their specialty, but snorkelers can come along and get in on the experience.

A third place to consider is Kelly's Water Sports. From tubing to glass bottom boat tours, the watersports operator does it all. One of their top excursions is a snorkeling trip to see beautiful coral reef formations and colorful fish. They're located in western Jamaica.

You can look through the table just below if you want information about 4 firms that offer services of interest to snorkelers.

Snorkeling Services On Jamaica
Name Type Phone Location
Juju Tours Snorkeling Tour Operator (876) 833-2921 3.4 mi. West-Northwest 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

For more information concerning snorkeling, including tips and suggestions for both "old pros" and beginners, read this extensive guide to 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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