Jamaica is one of the most popular and beautiful Caribbean countries and has a reputation as a vacation paradise because of its amazing nature and more than beautiful beaches, but many as a diving location, it is not classified among the better ones around the world. Of course, that doesn’t mean Jamaica doesn’t have something to offer to divers.
In this article, we’ll go through some of the best and most popular diving sites that will make your planned diving in Jamaica worth remembering.
Why Is It So Low Ranked Among Divers?
Many factors caused most Jamaican diving sites to be more-less ruined. Most of them are human-inducted. Jamaica has 479 square miles of coral reefs with 60 different coral species, yet the coral reef cover has declined over 50% since 1970, and in 2005 research some locations left with only about 5% of the former coral amount. The reason is a combination of overfishing, pollution, disease, hurricanes, and poor maintenance and care, overall. When you add cyanide and dynamite fishing to the equation, it’s no wonder diving in Jamaica is being regarded as one of the poorest in the Caribbean.
On the bright side, many divers claim that the situation is improving. Slowly, yes, but surely, so there is a hope that Jamaica will again be rich with coral reefs and amazing fish diversity. Even in this situation, more than 260 fish species have been seen around Jamaica, like sharpnose puffer, parrotfish, barracuda, sea turtles, four-eye butterflyfish…
Why Dive In Jamaica?
OK, it lacks fish and corals compared to some other neighboring countries, but there is a reason you should definitely go dive in Jamaica.
The first reason is the fact that basically, any place you check-in will offer you a chance to learn how to scuba dive. The second reason is the fact that, because of the situation, you’ll also learn the proper scuba diving etiquette and manners in the best possible way, and they’ll teach you how to help preserve nature.
Thirdly, the water temperature is more than pleasant, so you won’t feel chilly while you learn your first scuba diving steps, and last, but not least, what makes Jamaica so attractive is its place in the history of piracy.
Most Popular Dive Sites In Jamaica
It is time to turn to the dive sites that will make your diving experience great.
1. The Throne Room
Jamaica doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to scuba diving, but it does possess one of the most beloved diving jewels in the world. It is known as The Throne Room. Located in Negril, it is one of the most amazing underwater caves. With its 8-foot-wide entry long about 25 feet, that leads to the main chamber 40 feet wide and 65 feet deep.
What makes it even more impressive is the number of yellow sponges and corals that cover the walls from the bottom to the top. At the far end of the cave, you’ll find a chute with delicate black corals, and through the reef crack, you’ll see all the fish species that live in it. If you’re lucky enough, you may encounter nurse sharks roaming around the bottom, while bonuses may arrive in the shape of a dolphin. Rarity, yes, but it does happen from time to time.
2. Port Royal, Kingston
We’ve mentioned earlier that Jamaica is one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to pirates, and you’ll see and feel that on every step on dry land and stroke in the water you make. Some of the most famous pirates called Port Royal their home – Calico Jack, Charles Vane, Mary Reid…
This means you’ll have the chance to dive among many shipwrecks and hang around much amazing tropical fish, but that’s not the special treat. In 1692 strong earthquake hit and nearly destroyed Port Royal with the help of the following tsunami. During an earthquake, a part of Port Royal went under the surface, and now represents one of the main attractions of this area. You’ll need special permission from authorities, so before you go, check the latest rule changes.
3. Devil’s Reef, Ocho Rios
The third place on our list is reserved for the Devil’s Reef, located in Ocho Rios. This dive site is well known as a scorpionfish home, while you’ll also meet lettuce sea slugs, beautifully colored corals, many tunnels, underwater caverns… And you shouldn’t be surprised if you run into the nurse shark.
This location has something to offer both for Open Water divers, with its 65-foot deep end, and the Advanced scuba divers, because there is a sudden drop up to 130 feet of depth, where you’ll find the sandy bottom. The special treat is the low profile reef your dive instructor will show you, from where you’ll be able to see what is going on down there.
4. Widow maker’s Cave
Interesting name, even better things to offer with barracudas, parrotfish, black coral, and other marine life, this Montego bay-located dive site may be one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises you’ll check out. It also gives you two options. The first one lets you swim down to the cave entrance located at the bottom, about 80 feet, and then move upwards until you reach the top exit at about 30 feet of depth.
The second option is to reverse the route and to enter the cave from the top and moving down. Whatever you choose, you won’t be sorry, so don’t skip it. And the reward may come in the shape of the Manta Ray.
5. Kathryn Wreck
When at the Ocho Rios, ask anyone to tell you how to get to SS Kathryn Wreck, the mine-sweeper from World War II, deliberately sank to create an artificial reef. Though not for beginners, if you’re experienced enough, you’re in for a dive where you’ll not only meet many different fish species, see amazing corals and sponges, but you’ll also get the chance to enter the vessel and explore it from the inside.
6. Harbour Reef
Another Ocho Rios-based dive site comes in the shape of Harbour Reef. This reef is actually a wall with a sandy bottom. It shouldn’t be so hard to find, and Harbour Reef will allow you to check out not only many fish species, like scorpionfish, lettuce slugs, and attractive corals, but also one old Spanish anchor and, believe it or not, a boiler.
7. Deep Plane
In Jamaica, there may not be as many fish species as at some other places, but you’ll get the chance to swim around some of the most unusual wrecks. After many shipwrecks, followed by the sunken town and a boiler, there is also – a plane. Negril’s Deep Plane got its name from the Cessna 152 airplane that fell by accident in the water. The urban legend says that it was used to smuggle drugs, so it is not so motivating and thrilling story, but again, you don’t get the chance to dive around an airplane every day, don’t you?
8. Runaway Bay
One of the rare places where marine life is actually pretty much alive and has many different fish schools, like grouper, snapper, and stingrays.
In this area, there are a few dive sites basically within a hand reach – Ricky’s Reef, Pocket’s Reef, Reggae Queen, The Canyon, The Garden of Allah, the Nursery… There are also the Airplane Wreck, the Shipwreck Reef, but the absolute winner among all the others and the real jewel in your collection of unusual diving sites you’ve visited comes in the shape of a – toilet. The dive site known as the “Potty dive” has become the most beloved photo location since Jamaque Dive Centre sank it.
9. Tug Boat, Negril
Another great shipwreck is the tug boat from 1993, now serving as an artificial reef. It became home for many different marine life species, so you should not miss it.
10. Middle Shoal Reef
Middle Shoal Reef is a place made for beginner divers. With many different fish species, like parrotfish, squirrelfish, turtles, and different corals at the depth of 30 feet, it is a great place to learn how to scuba dive, and enjoy the view at the same time!
Globo Surf Overview
Now when we’ve been through all the places worth visiting in Jamaica, what’s the verdict? Well, if you’ll be going solely for scuba diving, don’t expect too much. On the other hand, if you happen to be there, scuba diving in Jamaica will most definitely bring your vacation to another level.
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