Other than rum, reggae and amazing food, scuba diving in Jamaica is another factor which adds beauty to this Caribbean paradise. Though not as popular as other islands, Jamaica has its own sites to be proud about.
Unfortunately, a lot of marine life has perished because of overfishing and hurricanes. Still, there are some interesting caves and wrecks to explore, in places fit for both beginners and experienced divers.
Perfect Time for Diving in Jamaica
To be honest, you can go scuba diving in Jamaica at any time of the year. The weather is always both warm and surprising.
Normally, air temperatures are between 77°F in the winter and 88°F in summer, while the average water temperature lies around 81°F. Winters are a bit windy, while summers bring along thunderstorms and sometimes hurricanes.
In case you’re keen on visiting, but don’t know exactly where to go, stick around to learn about the top 10 scuba dives in Jamaica.
1. Plane Wreck – Montego Bay
Montego Bay is the most popular diving place in Jamaica. Underwater visibility is over 75 feet and water temperature doesn’t go below 79°F. A 3mm wetsuit will be just enough and you can rent it on the spot. It’s possible to get a scuba diving certification here, with costs going up from $200-$250 USD.
One of the most interesting sights is a plane wreck lying in the sand 60 feet under water. You can go around and explore it. After that, you might want to see Stingray City and swim with these spectacular animals.
2. Widowmaker Cave – Montego Bay
Also, Montego Bay has some of the most well-kept reefs, which you probably don’t want to miss. For black coral, parrot fish and barracudas, go to Widowmaker’s Cave.
That’s a place which can be approached in two ways. The cave has two ends, one 80 feet below the surface, and the other 30 feet deep. You can enter it either way, depending on what kind of challenge you’re up to. Probably the easier version is to start at the bottom and exit later through the narrow chimney. Otherwise, you might need to make more stops.
3. The Point – Montego Bay
This one is a dive only recommended for those experienced in the art of this sport. The reason is that you’re going 200 feet deep, starting to sightsee at about 60 feet below sea level. It’s what could be called a wall dive.
Ocean currents are frequent in the area, which is said to create better visibility. The Point is packed with large fish species. Coral sponges cover the place, and turtles or eagle rays can be seen frequently. If you’re a fan of sharks, you might spot some, such as hammerheads.
4. SS Kathryn – Ocho Rios
A mine-sweeper wreck from World-War II, SS Kathryn was sunk with the purpose of creating an artificial reef. It’s about 140 feet long and lies 50 feet under water.
You’ll be able to explore around it and even enter it to take a closer look, though it’s not really a dive for beginners.
SS Kathryn has become a place for many sponges and corals to grow, while also sheltering various marine animals. Diving sessions in Ocho Rios cost around $90 each, while a certification can go up to $450.
5. Devil’s Reef – Ocho Rios
One of Jamaica’s protected natural sites, Devil’s reef is famous for its corals and fish. You reach it with a quick boat ride and it has two levels for diving. The first one is about 65 feet deep and is suitable for divers of all levels. Its bottom, located at 130 feet under water, is recommended for advanced divers only.
Enjoy the diverse marine life, including sea slugs, black sponges and scorpion fish. Nurse sharks as well as turtles and spadefish can be spotted as well, while eels are highly populating the reef wall cracks.
6. Port Royal – Kingston
Port Royal is probably the most interesting historical sight you could see while scuba diving in Jamaica. It holds an entire city which was buried under the sea in 1672 because of a major earthquake. Everything is located about 50 feet down.
Besides that, this seemed to be a location highly characterized by pirate activity. Many ships have been sunk while attacked and now represent homes for colorful fish. Unfortunately, you can’t be spontaneous about visiting this place, as authorities need to give their permission in advance. Normally, local diving agencies can help with that.
7. The Canyon – Runaway Bay
This place is more of a deep dive, formed in the space between two steep, almost vertical walls. The canyon starts at about 35 feet under sea level and reaches about 130 feet down. By the time you get to the bottom, its walls will be only 20 feet apart.
Looking around, you’ll be able to see amazing species of coral, such as cactus coral or wire coral going down the sides of this canyon. Eels, wrasse and hamlet fish are very common. One of the most interesting animals will be, however, the spotted eagle ray.
8. Blue Lagoon – Port Antonio
The Blue Lagoon or the Blue Hole in Port Antonio is another nice place to see eagle rays. You won’t be able to dive too deep, although it is known that the lagoon reaches about 200 feet under. It’s best to visit in summer, but water will always be at around 80°F.
Visibility seems to be what makes this place amazing, as you can see as far as 100 feet away under water. Thus, you’ll be able to take in all the beautiful vegetation. The location is quite romantic and it’s a good place for boat rides as well, costing $30 each.
9. The Throne Room – Negril
Have you ever seen elephant ears lying on the bottom of the ocean? We actually mean sea sponges which look like small thrones, hence the name of this location. They’re all placed in a cavern 60 feet below the surface, which appears as a large crack on the bottom of the sea.
You’ll find amazing yellow sponges covering the wall of this cavern, along with corals. Animals such as turtles, barracudas and eels can be seen and, if you’re lucky, you might even spot a nurse shark. You can also get a scuba diver certification for $150.
10. Surprise Reef – Negril
More of a beginner dive, Surprise Reef can still be enjoyed by anyone, even if it’s located only 50 feet under water. Visibility can reach 100 feet away. It’s perfect to visit in summer, with temperatures for both air and water at around 80°F.
At the bottom, you’ll find sandy spots, but also patches covered in corals or sponges. You’ll see amazing marine life, such as starfish, parrotfish, lobsters, shrimp, and eels. In the small caverns around, you might spot turtles or nurse sharks if you’re lucky.
Hopefully, these top 10 scuba dives in Jamaica have made you curious about visiting this beautiful country soon.
Pack your bags, include a rain coat and you’re good to go. It will feel like summer all year round.