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Hey all thought I’d contribute something to the board and give a list/brief description of some dive sites in Jamaica along with my favorites.
The list is by no means exhaustive and is categorized by parish (analogous to counties in the U.S).
I’ll indicate which sites I’ve personally been to by a * and my opinion of it.
Feel free to add to the list if you can as I’d like it to be a resource to those diving independently of hotels and looking for dive sites.
Resources http://www.metservice.gov.jm/forecast.asp (Meteorological service Jamaica. Great resource for determining if the weather conditions will permit a dive. Generally anything over 1.5 meter waves, or 15 knot winds is gonna be too much for diving)
http://www.shorediving.com/Earth/Car...ica_/index.htm Detailed description and directions to two of my favorite shore sites written by a friend of mine. GPS co-ordinates included.
Kingston & St. Andrew
Most if not all diving here will have to be done from Port Royal. They’re boat dives mostly. They’re a couple wrecks and reefs surround most of the cays here (Lime Cay, Maiden Cay, Drunkenmann’s Cay).
Wrecks Cayman Trader *: Easy shallow dive, wreck sits in about 40 feet of water. Remains of some sort of cargo ship carrying bananas that sank about 40 years ago. The wreck is not in the best shape as it’s basically in open water, no cays or anything protecting it. It’s pretty spread out and upside down in portions. Profuse coral growth on portions of the wreck along with abundant marine life.
Last time I was there, about 2 weeks ago, I encountered 3 nurse sharks (all greater than 4ft), a family of spotted eagle rays, Scorpion fish, large Mutton snappers, goat fish, yellow tail, a few small parrots and a Spanish hogfish. Also saw a rather large barracuda towards the end of the dive.
Haven’t been there myself. Wreck sits in about 90ft of water, it’s usually frequented by blacktip and reef sharks. Seems to be a very good wreck dive as people are always ranting and raving about it.. Hope to dive it soon.
Well this area is subject to heavy shipping traffic, Kingston harbor is the seventh largest natural harbor in the world and the port itself is a major trans-shipment point for tons of cargo. Hence the reefs aren’t in great condition.
Home of the local glitterati and beautiful people, rivals Miami beach in skin exposed per square meter of beach. Go on Saturday or Sunday and you’ll see what I mean.
Anyway there’s reef on the northern side of the cay. Sloping wall, usually the vis isn’t that good due to surge. However lots of crustaceans (slipper lobster, spiny lobster), creole wrasse and lots soft coral.
This is a good 2nd or 3rd dive of the day maybe, coupled with the white sand beach to chill out on afterwards, it isn’t a really bad choice.
The reefs around the other cays (Maiden and drunkenman’s) are diveable provided conditions permit.
Beautiful parish, breathtaking scenery. The blue lagoon and the port Antonio marina are 2 of my favorite spots.
Boat dive from Blue Lagoon, variable depth. Excellent dive very clear waters - a drift dive so bring a SMB if you have one or just pray the boatman can follow your bubbles. Last time I was there, there wasn’t much of a current. Nice coral, lots of soft coral (barrel sponges, elephant ear sponge, vase sponges) some nice hard coral (brain, fire coral, Acropora palmata, staghorn coral etc.) Usual tropical fish present. I’ve heard reports of people seeing hammerheads there, but I think you’d have to be very lucky to see any.
Boat dive from Blue Lagoon, about 65ft depth. Great vis, spur and groove coral formation. Nice coral with some lovely gorgonians. Saw some stingrays there last time.
Haven’t been there, I believe it’s a boat dive that can be done from Boscobel hotel.
Orange Bay East and West:
Sigh…, it’s pretty much crap now due to Hurricane Ivan. I wouldn’t dive it for the marine life but just for the interesting under-water formations river sediments have taken over so the underwater landscape is eerie.
Boat dive. variable depth but usually 60-120ft
. Excellent Dive - can also be very clear on a good day. also a
bit of a current so plan for drift dive. You can see nothing, can see
everything, depends on your luck or how early you start.. Excellent local seafood available on the beach for end of dive. Comments from a member of my dive club, “% coral cover was amazing at >70% at a depth of 70 to 90 feet with visibility over 100 ft. No fish. Coral cover was the best that I have seen in Jamaica in a long while. Buttresses were spectacular, rising from 70-80 ft to 20 ft”
Pear Tree*. Boat/shore dive. variable depth.
Increasingly difficult by shore due to highway development. Also
dangerous by shore if rough. lovely dive, can have excellent viz.
often see eagle rays and squid. can have excellent coral structure.
There are many ways to dive this site, very variable. They’re lots of swimthroughs and overhangs at this site. Refer to the shorediving link for a reference to this dive site and one of the possible entrances.
Dary Bull. Boat only. This dive is excellent for a new
diver. this dive may be equally fabulous at 25ft as it is at 100ft.
great for photography and night dives.
Yow’s/ aka Rio Bueno*: One of my absolute favorite dives sites.
Directions and GPS co-ordinates at shoredive.com.
Shore/boat.variable depth, but best if 100ft not exceeded - starts getting
crappy below 100ft.
This dive boasts one of the best vertical wall dives in Jamaica. The
view at the top of the wall is fabulous. Can occasionally get a few
large specimens, turtles, barracudas, but over fishing is still very
evident. Damselfish, 4-eye butterflyish, creole wrasse, trigger-fish, squirrel-fish blah blah.. can be seen. Has shown some recovery in fast-growing coral but not even
close to its former glory according to others.
Lovely shallow dive at end can be used to off-gas. can be difficult
to enter and exit if shore diving - must be calm day AND early. Believe me I’ve been bashed by waves there while exiting before. On a bad way, I’ve seen waves break over the cliff. Check my gallery for a pic of the descent point which is right next to the cliff.
If going by shore please patronise Yow's Jerk centre, they have
excellent local seafood available and tolerate the divers.
Oyster bay- Haven’t been there but I think that it’s a shore dive.
Planes – This is really a boat dive, but if you’re cheap like me it can be done as a shore dive with a 40 minute swim out to the site and 40 minute swim back in. It’s called planes because the remains of a plane transporting marijuana crashed there. The remains of 2 fishermen’s boat are there also. Nice hard and soft coral in the area, not much fish though. I don’t have exact directions, but it’s near Hedonism 3. Look out for idiots on jetskis as you swim out.
Spanish Anchor and Basket reef – Boat dives can be done from “Pier 1” in Montego Bay. They’re both in the Marine park, so fish numbers and size are above average. Beautiful breath-taking dives, healthy diverse coral, huge sponge and great vis. Spanish anchor is so named because of the remains of 2 massive anchors from some ship that anchored there and broke away in a storm I believe.
Airport wall: Comments from another diver who has done it. “Airport wall was magnificent as always; the soft corals, gorgonians, black coral and staghorn coral in good health and quite a diversity of fish life. After 20 minutes on the deep, we ascended to 40 ft and made our way back to the buouy over beautiful gardens of brain coral and tube sponges. 45 minutes of pure diving heaven.”
Widowmaker – I believe this is done as a boat dive from a lot of hotels around Montego Bay. Supposed to be phenomenal.
“It involves descending through a vertical tunnel about 6 ft wide from about 45 ft to 80 ft and then across horizontally another 30 ft to exit out on the wall. There are numerous large heads of coral that ascend from hundreds of feet up to about a 100 feet. We saw three or four very large mutton snapper swimming together and a host of smaller reef fish. The coral wasn't as healthy as over on the airport side but overall the reef structure was very impressive. We ended the dive immersed in a school of sergeant majors, yellowtails and parrot fish”
Hanni’s Reef, aka Chalet Caribe* –
Found In Reading, which is just west and outside of Montego Bay. Directly opposite from a hotel called the Chalet Caribe. Just park across the road, kit up and be prepared to be gawked at by tourists in tour buses and locals as you kit up. Walk down the concrete jetty? And hop in. Swim to the buoy and descend to a plaque honoring the efforts of ‘Hanni’ who was involved in the creation of the marine park I believe.
Shore dive, variable depth, great vis can be had. Can be good whether deep or shallow, lots of marine life. Did some of my first dives there and according to my logbook I saw a Moray eel, king crab?, spiny lobster, school of creole wrasse. Nice wall if I remember.
So there you have it, I hope this is of some help to you guys who might be in the island looking for somewhere to dive.
I'll try to help you out on the west end of the island. I dove out of Hedonism II near Negril the last 2 years and am headed back again June 15, 2005.
Tug Boat near Sands Club in 90fsw.
Gutted tug boat that is safe for inexperienced divers. Have seen good sized Barracuda hanging around this tug. Last year I saw a large turtle with a very large Remora hitching a ride. Area is surrounded by good sized coral heads.
Shallow Plane, near The Arches, approx. 55fsw.
Small Cessna which crashed at Negril Areodrome dropped in an open sandy area to start a reef. The seats, engine, windows and doors have been removed. An easy swim through. A large crab was living inside the tail. The engine sits 5 meters away and had a nice group of Banded Shrimp living there.
Deep Plane, near Bloody Bay, 90fsw
Larger plane, been down longer, that's all I know, haven't been there.
Reef Dives: The Arches. starts at 30fsw and goes to 60fsw
My personal favorite dives site in JM. Many, many nice swim-throughs and overhangs. Most are wife open and easy for new divers, a few are slightly longer and require good buoyancy control as you slope downward. I've seen many, many morays from very small to very large in this area. Many large tube sponges. Also near Shallow Plane.
Kingfish Point, 90fsw.
This beautiful deep dive goes outward through spectacular coral formations to a depth of 90' and then the reef drops to sand flats at 130'. Turtles are seen quite often. Nurse sharks, enormous barrel sponges and large gorgonialns are also seen.
Sands Club, 60fsw and Sand Club Deep, 90fsw
A large area of coral heads with lots and lots of creatures, rays, skates, morays, turtles, etc. Lots of vase, barrel, and tube sponges. Great site for night dives. Saw one nurse shark and a very large ray here. I've seen more turtles here than anywhere else in JM.
Throne Room, 70fsw, north of Bloody Bay.
Drop down through a hole at 50fsw and swim out through the front at 65fsw. Be sure to roll over on your back and see the great coral and fish overhead. This area has many canyons and seems like a never ending maze. Very nice.
Treasure Reef, 40-50fsw
Nice longer reef with plenty of skates & rays, several small morays, lots of macro life, many large barrel sponges.
Orange Island Wall, 95fsw and more
North of Bloody Bay near Orange Island. Long, tall reef that goes on for quite a distance. Great drifting along just checking out all the corals and life. Saw a huge ray swimming off in the distance.
Last edited by Ann Marie; March 21st, 2008 at 06:13 PM.
Reason: added bolding
Haven't been out too much to the western end of the island (Negril, Hanover) as it's a 3.5hr + drive from Kingston. Hoping to check out Orange Island wall and throne room soon.
Anyway here a few that I forgot to add yesterday. Addenda
Kingston & St. Andrew Wrecks Blacktip - It;s a wreck, or wreckage, of a large boat lying on her side, bottom,
top, port, starboard. With the bottom beyond
100ft msw. You can go to the bottom at about 120+ft or do about
90-110ft to maximise bottom time. There can be a strong surface current with noticeably cooler water below 30ft. Blacktip sharks frequent this site along with reef sharks, huge octopii, nurse sharks and juvenile african pompano.
St. Thomas Cow bay- It's a shore dive don't know too much about it. Except it's a regular haunt of another local dive club (JSAC).
Variable depth, can be done betweenn 60-80ft in a sand channel next to some rock pavement. The reports I've heard that this site has lots of marine life, some friends dove it a month or so back and saw dolphins, 2 hawksbill turtles, a pair of hogfish, 2 black durgons, bar jacks, stoplight parrotfishes, rays,scorpion fish, flying gournard, trigger fish... You get the idea.
Clarendon Pigeon Island
This is near the extreme southern tip of the island. It's a boat dive. Used a boat from a small marine at a town called Salt River. They're a lot of small islands around there, so they're possibly other dive sites in the general area. Did the dive near the lighthouse on the island.
Decent coral, diverse fish life, wasn't huge, depth about 50 ft where I dove. Area is quite deserted, heard some American sport fishermen on the radio talking about a big marlin they almost caught.
Kingston Tug Boat
Another wreck, in about 70 feet of water. About 18 miles? out to sea, not quite sure of the exact distance. Either way be prepared for a longish boat ride from Port Royal.
Wreck of a large tug boat sits almost flat on the sea floor. Nice coral growth and boat remains fairly intact. They’re not really much options for penetration with this wreck due to the structure. Either way it’s an interesting wreck
Portland Pseudo-Trident (My name for it)
This is a shore dive. Don’t know why I’m adding this since it’ll be almost impossible to find without local guidance. Anyway it’s about a mile from Anna Banana’s (restaurant). Rocky shore entry, swim out for about 50 meters and descent into about 30 feet of water, Bottoms out at 40fsw, interesting coral formation, lots of black durgons, creole wrasse, sa golden Moray eel, goatfish et cetera on my last dive.
Last edited by Ann Marie; March 21st, 2008 at 06:14 PM.
I spent a number of years working as the watersports/scuba director for a
number of all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica years ago. I have a couple of
web pages of Jamaican underwater photos highlighting some of the wrecks and
sea creatures in a couple of the resort areas which also have lots of the
I just got back from my 3rd trip to Negril. I see that you have made a sticky post about Jamaica. Might I suggest a restaurant in Negril called "Koyaba". It's about a 6 minute drive from Point Village Resort/Hedo II. Fantastic food and you can't go wrong with anything on the menu. You can get a huge lobster dinner for $26US. Service is extremely slow but it seems to be that way no matter where you go.
Diving last week was pretty good. Temps 82-84F with good viz until the end of the week when viz dropped off due to stuff in the water. Runoff from all the rain I guess. We saw 3-4 dolphins, one was a baby with the mother, one day and another day a dolphin swam thru and around us for about 3 minutes. Very cool.
Mike's Reef was a new dive site for me. We stayed at 90-95 fsw for the dive on a wall-reef that was 70-100fsw. Half way along the wall there is a large mound reef heading out deeper that starts about 80 and goes to 130+. Saw a very large ray here and the smaller fish life was extremely thick. Saw a school of 15+ 4-eye butterflyfish, which I had never seen before.
Other sites included Treasure Reef (dolphin encounter), Sands Club (shallow and deep), Bloody Bay Reef (2 sections), The Arches, O'Neil's Reef, The Cave, Joe's Reef, etc. All very nice but fish life continues to be thin. The largest population are Creole Wrasses.
Dining at Kuyaba was outstanding. Jamaican Sytle Mahi Mahi, conch soup, crab cakes, & mountain pepper shrimp were all excellent, beer was very cold. Our group of 12 really enjoyed the dinner. We did not find the service overly slow, but we are on vacation and didn't want fast service.