WHERE ARE WE GOING?
Today we are scuba diving in Jamaica, an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea!
WHY ARE WE DIVING IN JAMAICA?
There is a range of things you can see while diving in Jamaica! From old shipwrecks, to colorful reefs, and tropical marine life. What you will see depends on which location in Jamaica you decide to dive. All areas are good for diving certification.
In Kingston where I dive mostly, you can dive off Port Royal based at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Port Royal. There are several small islands just off shore (cays) Kingston and also several shipwrecks.
In Port Antonio you can do a few dives in the nearby well managed marine park. In Montego Bay, the operations are very close to the drop offs and have excellent shallow dives also. In Negril, you can get a good variety of dives in almost guaranteed calm water and good viz.
HOW DO WE GET TO JAMAICA?
Kingston is the capital city in Jamaica. There are two main international airports – in Kingston it is the Norman Manley International Airport on the south and in Montego Bay it is the Donald Sangster International Airport on the North side.
The main tourist areas are on the north. There are many international airlines that come to Jamaica. Most of the dive operations are on the north (Port Antonio, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay or Negril with one operation in Kingston based at Port Royal. Transport can be arranged by your hotel, otherwise there is a reliable transport service (JUTA) you can use or a coach service (Knutsford Express) depending how far you are going.
Public transport is available but can be packed and doesn’t run to a specific schedule though it does run regularly. Also there may be issues with space for luggage depending how much you have.
WHERE SHOULD WE GO DIVING IN JAMAICA?
Jamaica has a great range of dive sites since it is an island!
Generally, Kingston cays are good for the shipwrecks and also reefs. Notable wrecks include:
Cayman Trader Wreck
Max. 50ft / 15m. The Cayman Trader wreck is a nice, shallow wreck with easy conditions for beginners. It was built in Norway and registered in the Cayman Islands, and was sunk in 1977 after the cargo ship caught fire and sunk.
80ft – 100ft (25m – 30m). The Texas wreck sits southeast of Port Royal. The HMS Texas was a Royal Navy ship built in Canada which sunk in 1944 after a collision. Dives have to be early in the morning due to the windy conditions with tend to come up by midday.
Port Antonio has good walls and reefs with the marine park doing well.
Montego Bay also has good walls and reefs.
Negril tend to have the most consistently calm conditions. All have good dive sites.
TELL ME MORE
The main areas in Jamaica have close dive sites that can be reached by boat. There are no liveaboards. There is very limited shore diving.
DO I NEED ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT?
A skin suit is ok most of the time. Even though the water is warm a skin is good protection in case you brush against fire coral. Otherwise a 3mm wetsuit in “winter” time is good. Water does not get very cold. A torch is useful to look under ledges. Strong currents are rare.
Read More: Use our Wetsuit Temperature Guide for Scuba Diving
WHAT LEVEL CERTIFICATION SHOULD I BE?
All the areas for diving in Jamaica that I mentioned have dives that are suitable for beginners. There are also some deeper dives for advanced divers. It is also recommended to have a wreck specialty so you can explore the cool wrecks around here!
WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS?
Water temperature is almost always in the 80s°F / 26°C. Strong currents are rare. Hurricane season is June to November with most activity being during July to September.
Visibility depends on the location. We have a lot of rivers in Jamaica so when there is heavy rain the viz deteriorates temporarily at the dive sites near the rivers.
Walls and drop offs usually have good viz all the time. But the dive operations would know where the best dive sites are to go to based on the circumstances.
HOW MUCH WILL I SPEND?
Dives tend to be approximately USD $120 for a 2 tank boat dive (some places include gear in this price) and most dive operations have packages with discounts for multiple dives.
WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION IS AVAILABLE?
There is a wide array of accommodation in Jamaica to suit all budgets.. From high end luxury hotels (some of which include diving) to bed and breakfast guest houses.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Diving in Jamaica is a good place to learn to dive, or if you are on holiday and want to do a few dives that would be fine. However, if you are an experienced diver who has travelled the world and if the main purpose of your trip is diving then I would consider other destinations. I would not classify Jamaica as a dive destination compared to the Cayman Islands for example.
Read More: Diving in Grand Cayman – Cayman Islands
There has been overfishing over the years and while there are now several marine parks in place, the fish stock has not yet risen back to where it used to be. Having said that I dive regularly and there is still lots to see.
What Jamaica has over other destinations is the wide range of activities otherwise. There are excellent hotels available and there are lots of places to visit. There is good food and an interesting culture. The island is beautiful with vast mountains ranges meeting the sea in some locations and arid areas with just as beautiful scenery. Jamaica is an experience as opposed to some destinations which are only for diving. It depends what you are looking for.
WHAT DO WE DO ON SURFACE INTERVALS?
All locations have snorkeling, other watersports, restaurants, tours and other activities. There is lots to do in Jamaica other than diving. Nightlife is good in most places. Smaller towns such a Port Antonio are more laid back.