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Diving in Jamaica

Kick back and relax in Jamaica, an iconic island destination with incredible scuba diving. With crystal clear water and protected reefs, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Diving in Jamaica

Quick facts

Diving in Jamaica offers a large variety of dive spots for divers of all skill levels. See rays, sharks, sea turtles, colorful fish and corals up close. Jamaica's crystal clear waters invite scuba divers to come back again and again to explore and find new discoveries each time they dive. The most popular diving in Jamaica can be found around Negril, Montego Bay. Be sure to go to the Arches and the Caves, incredible rock structures where you can see rays and sharks. If you’re a beginner, one of the best sites to try is the Surprise Reef, a pretty reef that is frequented by turtles and parrotfish. Advanced diver? Don’t miss out on Shark’s Reef, an out-of-the-way site where nurse sharks lounge and large stingrays rest on the sandy bottom. While visiting Montego Bay dive the Wreck, a plane wreck lying at 18m. Then, head to Stingray City, an aptly name dive where you can see tons of gliding rays. The many reefs within the bay are some of the best and healthiest in Jamaica, so take some time to explore these vibrant hideaways.

Recommended training

Take the PADI Deep Diver and PADI Wreck Diver courses for diving on the deeper wrecks. The PADI Drift Diver and PADI Boat Diver courses will help you enjoy diving off Florida’s east coasts. The PADI Cavern Diver course is also a good choice for many of the freshwater systems.

When to go

The tropical weather in Jamaica is always vacation friendly. The average temperature is between 25°C / 77°F in the winter and 29°C / 84°F in the summer. On average, the water visibility is usually between 70 and 100 feet (21 to 30 meters). When the weather is especially good, it might exceed the 100 feet (30 meters). Furthermore, The average water temperature is 27°C / 81°F. The most protection a diver will ever need for Jamaica is a 3 mm wetsuit. However, it should be noted that Jamaica can be affected by the Caribbean hurricane season, which runs from June to October.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

  • The Abaco Islands

    A Bahamian paradise, the Abaco Islands offer scuba divers shallow coral reefs, shipwrecks and encounters with hundreds of Caribbean reef sharks.

* Middle Shoal Reef – A great beginner diver spot with a little of everything. Expect to see parrot fish, blue chromis, creole wrans, squirrel fish, French grunts and turtles. This spot also has a coral reef and a depth of 30 feet. * Devil’s Reef – Located just a short boat ride off the shores of Ocho Rios, this protected area features an underwater ridge encrusted with staghorn corals and black-ball sponges. It gradually slopes down to 65 feet and then drops of steeply to a sandy bottom at 130 feet. You will see a wide variety of reef fish, lettuce sea slugs, colorful coral, moray eels, and nurse sharks. * Montego Bay - Looking for a sunken plane? Find one here at 18 metres / 59 feet resting on a sandy bottom, it’s well worth diving down for a closer look. After that, head over to Stingray City to swim around with a large amount of gliding rays. * The Throne Room - This very popular dive site offers an abundance of marine life. Expect to see just about everything including: stingrays, delicate black corals, eels, octopus, elephant ear sponges, barracuda, snappers and an occasional dolphin.

What to see

There are more than 260 species of reef fish that have been recorded in the waters of Jamaica. Some of the marine life you are sure to see, including four-eye butterflyfish, sharpnose puffer, parrot fish, sea slugs, mackerel and barracuda. You might also spot bluehead wrasse, eels, sea turtles, a West Indian manatee, nurse sharks and more. Soft corals and sponges make delicate accompaniments to the large and fantastic corals they cling near. There is also a chance you might spot large sharks or even a whale on migration. Beware of fire coral while on your dive, which will give you an irritating burn wherever it makes contact with your skin.

Calendar

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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Jamaica is located 145 kilometres / 90 miles south of Cuba and is the fourth-largest island country in the Caribbean (10,990 square kilometres / 4,240 sq. miles). Enjoy it’s warm, tropical climate filled with a vast variety of fun activities like mountain hiking, bird watching in the jungle or horseback riding along the beach. Take a tour of the rainforest or just relax and enjoy a long soak in the mineral springs. But, with all of Jamaica’s colorful vegetation, luxury resorts and pristine beaches, many vacationers come to this island to dive. Inhabited for centuries by native people, Jamaica was taken over by the Spanish soon after the voyage of Christopher Columbus. The nation was swapped between colonial hands and was a key part of the unfortunate slave trade. Emancipation was reached in the 1830’s, but it wasn’t until 1962 that Jamaica gained full independence. Thrumming with millions of residents, the island is bustling with activity. Today, music and dance are a huge part of Jamaican culture, and the county is well known for its outstanding cuisine.

Other attractions

While in Jamaica, visit the interior of the island and the breathtaking beaches. There are mountains to explore, rainforests to discover and waterfalls to bask in. In addition, there are excellent history and art museums in many of the large cities, and some of the best cuisine in the Caribbean can be found here. One of the most popular Jamaican towns is Montego Bay with plenty of restaurants, galleries, shops, golf courses, hotels and beachfront resorts. Visit reggae legend Bob Marley’s home in the capital of Kingston, and explore the city’s historic sites and museums. Hike or bike through the Blue Mountains and John Crow Mountains National Park, which offers mountain vistas, lush rainforest and waterfalls. Or explore Half Moon Beach, a peaceful crescent of sand with coral reefs just offshore in Falmouth. Other attractions worth mentioning include the Rip Grande River, Blue Lagoon in Port Antonio and the Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios.

Getting there

Getting to the island by air is an easy feat. Jamaica’s major airports are Sangster International Airport (MBJ) in Montego Bay and the Ian Fleming International Airport (OCJ) in Ocho Rios. Another popular and soothing way to make your way to the island is via cruise ship.

UTC-05:00

Time zone

JMD

Currency

+1876

Calling code

110 V

Electric volt

A, 

B

Plug type

KIN

Main airport
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.