Jamaica: A wondrous place to snorkel. The waters of the Caribbean are warm and inviting. One of the best treats you can give yourself is to snorkel in beautiful Jamaica or any of the other astounding islands in this beautiful region. The Caribbean Sea is famous for its crystal blue waters, gorgeous reefs, and shimmering fish. Snorkeling in this magical place can be an unforgettable experience.
The Best Snorkeling in Jamaica
If you’re asking yourself, “where is the best snorkeling near me (in Jamaica),” well hey, let’s go!
As you can see from the map below, Jamaica offers an array of wondrous places to explore the underwater world.
A snorkeling adventure just wouldn’t be the same without a visit to Jamaica’s famed Montego Bay. There, sunlight touches the reefs, creating a dazzling display of color. Places like Dressel Divers and the Montego Bay Marine Park and Bogue Lagoon can help you discover the wild beauty of this enchanted place.
The effects of overfishing, water sports, and pollution had taken a toll on the waters of this famous bay. So, the marine park was created in 1991. Environmental regulations were set in place and the area’s coral reefs, mangroves and wildlife are rebounding.
The park also offers canoe trips where you can see beautiful birds like herons and egrets and amazing marine life — including tarpon, barracudas, snapper, crabs, and lobsters. The canoe trips cost nothing, but donations are gladly accepted.
For starters, there’s Jamaica Scene, which offers a whole range of services, with snorkeling trips that last from one hour to one-and-a-half hours, starting at $35.00. Located in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, just southeast of Montego Bay, Jamaica Scene will also pick you up if you stay at one of the dozens of hotels or villas in the area. There are several snorkeling sites to choose from depending upon your level of experience, and all of them are great places to see angel- and butterflyfish, lionfish, seahorses, damselfish, puffer fish, stingrays, and dozens of other beautiful species.
Located on Jamaica’s southwestern coast near Negril, Bluefields Bay offers some of the area’s best snorkeling. They offer trips to Seven Mile Beach, in Negril, Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, Treasure Beach, Bluefields Bay and several other sites. Prices vary, so it’s best to contact them online or by phone.
Rockhouse Resort, Negril, Jamaica. Perched on rocky cliffs just above the languid Caribbean, these beautiful bungalows feature easy access to snorkeling adventures. You will enjoy picturesque grottos full of marine creatures commonly found in aquariums, including silversides, and snake eels — which are beautiful and non-threatening. Rates vary depending upon the season.
The video below features Bluefields Bay Villa’s Moor Reef.
But Jamaica is only one of 7,000 islands in the Caribbean archipelago. So in case you want to visit a few more, you’ve got plenty to choose from. There are 13 sovereign island-nations that have close ties to the U.S. and Europe.
Where To Find The Best Snorkeling In The Caribbean
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, is absolutely riddled with excellent places to snorkel. Waterlemon Cay (no, it’s not misspelled), has to be first on this list. It’s a quiet location located on the eastern edge of Leinster Bay, notes the St. John Beach Guide. Featuring resplendent sea life — including sea turtles, rays, conchs and enormous starfish, sea fans, brain corals, parrotfishes, grunts, and squirrelfish. Winds in this area are usually gentle, but it is sometimes subject to heavy currents on the far side of the cay. So pay attention to what the weather’s doing and never snorkel alone.
Also located on St. John, Maho Bay is an excellent snorkeling location for kids. Fringed in impressive coconut palms, this white sand beach is shallow and the water is easy to enter. But that ease of access also means it can get crowded sometimes. Don’t let that discourage you, however. It’s an excellent place to see sea turtles, rays, and huge schools of baitfish.
As you go along the eastern shore that separates Little Maho from Maho Bay beach you’ll find yourself in shallow water that’s between three and ten feet deep. Here you’ll find rocky outcroppings studded with impressive corals — including gorgonians, purple sea fans, anemones, Elkhorn and fire corals. You’ll also see a wide variety of fishes, especially wrasses, tangs, parrotfishes, angelfishes, and potentially lionfishes.
Should you decide to snorkel along the western shoreline, you’ll see schools of Atlantic Blue Tang, juvenile grey and French angelfishes, many species of damselfish, and possibly even nurse sharks (which are generally peaceful but do not like to be touched — they are known to bite on occasion).
So now that we’ve looked at all these beautiful locations, there’s one more thing you might want to consider before your trip:
Where to buy your snorkeling gear
Many of the places listed above rent out their own gear for a small fee, but there are also plenty of places to purchase your own gear. Believe it or not, purchasing your own gear is a better option because you’ll be able to find something that will fit you specifically. This is important because if you rent a mask it may leak. Having to empty your mask every two minutes will ruin your experience. If you rent fins along with the mask, they may be ill-fitting and you’ll wind up with blisters to commemorate your adventure.
So why don’t we see what’s out there?
As Tropical Snorkeling notes, masks come in all kinds of sizes and shapes. Some have one or two windows, or as many as four. As an avid snorkeler, I grew to really love masks that had those four windows. They offer a panoramic view, which is wonderful for really taking in the scenery.
Many masks have a plastic skirt that fits around them, but silicone is recommended because it generally fits better. And if you wear glasses, don’t be discouraged. Many masks are designed to help you see just like you would if you’re wearing glasses. It’s fine to purchase your gear online, but you may have a better experience buying it in person because you can study the shape of your face to make sure the mask fits correctly. And if you’re also buying fins, you’ll stand a better chance of finding ones that are the right size.
Snorkeling Adventures Await
The Caribbean is waiting to welcome you into its crystalline waters, where you can have the snorkeling experience of a lifetime. A treasure you’ll keep for the rest of your life.
Featured image courtesy of 3dman_eu/Pixabay