Jamaica is a thriving scuba diving destination and the largest English speaking Caribbean island. An abundance of land and water-based activities are available on this beautiful island, and everyone will be kept entertained. Jamaica has over 4,000 sq. miles of varied terrain and underwater fringing reefs.
Best Places to Stay in Jamaica
The major hotel and tourism areas are Montego Bay, Negril, and Ocho Rios. The scuba diving hotspots are located adjacent to these regions, along the north and west coasts. Negril, on the west coast, is the most protected area when considering sea conditions and weather.
Super Scuba Diving Hotspots in Jamaica
Jamaica’s shallower reefs are located close to shore; dive operators offer short boat rides to many sites, which is perfect for beginners and those who get seasick. More experienced divers should explore the Cayman Trench.
Jamaica has two well-established marine parks: the Montego Bay Park, which extends to a depth of 300 feet; and the Negril Marine Park, which covers over 60 square miles. It is required, by law, that you dive with a registered scuba diving operator.
PADI has 38 registered dive operators on Jamaica; ranging from small, owner-operated shops to international resorts. As with any destination, it is a good idea to talk to your chosen dive center before traveling, to make sure they can meet your dive criteria. Some resorts are very busy during peak season months; advanced divers may want to check that there will be a dedicated dive guide, or separate boat, to suit their experience level when diving.
Climate in Jamaica – Perfect for Diving!
The tropical Caribbean weather makes Jamaica a fabulous year-round dive destination. Average air temperatures along the coastline range from 78F-90F in the summer. Jamaica is inside the hurricane belt, and the hurricane season lasts from June to November. August and September are the most active months.
The average water temperature varies from 75F-84F as the seasons change. A short or long 3mm wetsuit is adequate protection, although some divers prefer 5mm. Visibility is good in this region, averaging 70-100 feet on most dive sites.
Authentic Jamaica – Scuba Diving in Port Royal
The south of Jamaica entices divers with the archeological remains of notorious pirate haven, Port Royal. An earthquake in 1692 devastated the harbour, and many of the buildings were lost into the sea. With government permission, divers can explore the crumbling historic buildings. Kingston is home to two modern wrecks; the Cayman Trader – a cargo ship that sank in 1977, and the Texas – an intact and well decorated US Navy ship that sank in 1944.
Fascinating Dive Sites Around Jamaica
The Throne Room, in Negril, is a favorite site for visiting divers. Divers enter through a wide crack, at a depth of 40 feet, which leads to a larger chamber with a maximum depth of 65 feet. Plenty of light penetrates the 40 foot wide cave, and it is spacious inside. A narrow chute is located at the rear. Soft black corals and large yellow sponges decorate the heavily encrusted walls. Crabs, shrimps, and nurse sharks hide inside the cave. Outside the cave, divers might see stingrays, barracuda, and eels. Negril has many protected coral reefs, two Cessna airplanes, and a tugboat to be explored.
Montego Bay also has an appealing cave dive called Widowmaker’s Cave. Experienced divers enter the cave underwater, at 80 feet, and explore the interior whilst ascending. The exit is through a 10 foot wide chute, at a depth of 35 feet. Colorful sponges and black corals adorn the cave, and there are some awesome photo opportunities.
The Kathryn, is a purpose-sunk 140 foot long WWII Canadian minesweeper. Laid to rest on the seabed in 1991, near Ocho Rios, she sits at a depth of 50 feet. The wreck is a lively artificial reef; a variety of Caribbean reef fish, crabs, and morays live around her. Divers may enter the wheel house to explore the interior.
Have you dived in Jamaica? What did you think of the diving there?