With crystal clear waters, unique marine life, and an abundance of healthy coral reefs, Jamaica can meet the highest expectations for an amazing snorkeling excursion. What you’ll see during a snorkeling trip on this gorgeous island depends on where you choose to dive. There are a number of options for snorkeling or even scuba diving in Jamaica, starting from the picturesque Montego Bay beaches on the north coast all the way to Bluefields Beach in the south. The reefs that are easiest to access tend to be along the north coast, in places like Negril and Port Antonio.
If you’ve already booked your vacation and want some other great snorkeling spots to explore, read on for the eight most amazing places to dive in Jamaica!
Good to know: Jamaica has over 600 miles of coastline, 60 types of coral, and a variety of marine life. Please look, but don’t touch the coral and sea creatures!
Best snorkeling spots in Jamaica that are close to the beach.
Home to some of the best beaches in Jamaica, many with shallow, crystal-clear waters, Negril has snorkeling that is sure to be one of the highlights of your vacation. Some of the best options for snorkeling in this area include Seven Mile Beach, Bloody Bay, Booby Cay Island, the Throne Room, and Rockhouse.
Seven Mile Beach rises above the rest for snorkeling in Negril. This beach is great whether you're a snorkeling newbie or have more experience. There are different areas where you can start off your snorkeling expedition including right from the shore or a little further out towards the Negril Coral Reef (two miles offshore). Once you dive in, you’ll see lots of colorful marine life -- everything from tropical fish to conch, sea urchins, and more. Snorkelers love the cliffs on this beach, which can be fun to explore while underwater. You can get a boat directly from one of the resorts in Negril if you want to explore the Negril Coral Reef.
Good to know: Bloody Bay (next to Seven Mile Beach) makes for the perfect snorkeling location if you want a more peaceful experience. This beach tends to be less crowded than Seven Mile Beach.
Best offshore snorkeling spots in Jamaica.
If you want to explore the calm and crystal-clear waters of Jamaica, your best bet is to spend some time in Montego Bay. There are many interesting snorkeling sites you can visit in this area to swim near beautiful coral reefs and see lots of colorful marine life. In Montego Bay, you may want to start your snorkeling adventure at Doctor's Cave Beach, or even in the Montego Bay Marine Park.
The Montego Bay Marine Park is a protected area where there are strict regulations regarding fishing. These guidelines have helped the marine life in this area to flourish over the years, meaning there will be even more to see during your snorkeling experience. Doctor’s Cave Beach is just as great for snorkeling. The fish will literally swim right up to you. Since Doctor’s Cave is a popular beach, the fish are quite used to seeing lots of people exploring their homes! Both the Montego Bay Marine Park and Doctor's Cave Beach are safe for snorkelers of all skill levels.
There are other offshore reefs you might want to explore in the Montego Bay area as well, such as Marley’s Garden and Coyaba Reef. These offshore reefs tend to be a bit more challenging, but still super fun!
Good to know: Montego Bay is one of the calmest snorkeling locations in Jamaica. It won't be hard to organize your snorkeling trip there. In fact, the all-inclusive resorts in Montego Bay can help you plan your snorkeling expedition and even organize boat trips if needed.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica is known for both beautiful beaches and great diving. The water in this area is clearest on days with calm seas. While snorkeling in Ocho Rios, sightings can include scorpionfish, lettuce sea slugs, nurse sharks, and lots of colorful coral. Some of the best places to snorkel in Ocho Rios include the Ocho Rios Marine Park and Devil’s Reef. Both of these locations should definitely be included on your snorkeling to-do list while in Jamaica.
While snorkeling in Ocho Rios, you can experience the year-round perfect water temperatures that Jamaica is known for (80-84°F). You'll also be able to see quite a diverse selection of marine life and coral. Devil’s Reef has the most diverse coral formations in the Ocho Rios area, and you're likely to come across spadefish, snapper, scorpionfish, barracuda, and sea slugs while diving there. The underground ridge at Devil’s Reef is ideal for open-water divers and advanced open-water training. There is also a good selection of all-inclusive resorts in Ocho Rios that can make your snorkeling experience in Jamaica even more memorable.
Good to know: You can snorkel right off the beach in Jamaica or take a boat out to some of the other outstanding snorkeling spots if you prefer. If you’re ready to start planning your snorkeling adventure in paradise, check out the best places to stay in Jamaica!
There’s lots to see when snorkeling on the beaches of Runaway Bay, including bountiful corals, lots of tropical fish, and more. If you snorkel in places like North Coast Beach, expect to see an abundance of marine life including stingrays, barracuda, lionfish, and sea urchins just offshore.
There are other cool beach options in Runaway Bay like Cardiff Hall Beach. Snorkelers often rave about the variety of marine life that can be spotted regularly on this beach, such as sea urchins, stingrays, and more. There’s a beach bar, bathrooms, and showers on this beach so it's very convenient as well.
Overall, the Runaway Bay area is a good option if you want to get away from the crowds and really enjoy snorkeling. Plus, you can snorkel right from the sandy shores! Other interesting locations for snorkeling in the Runaway Bay area include the Runaway Bay Wall and the Pear Tree Bottom Reef.
Expert tip: Water sports vacations with lots of snorkeling are even better at all-inclusive resorts where snorkeling equipment and even some scuba diving sessions are included!
Snorkeling on Jamaica’s South Coast is sure to be an adventure. This is one of the most beautiful and serene parts of this island, in and out of the water. If you want the South Coast experience as part of your snorkeling adventure in Jamaica, then definitely give Bluefields Beach a try. This is a gem of a beach that’s a little off the beaten path. Bluefields Beach has gorgeous views and a relaxing atmosphere. Plus, you can go snorkeling right off the beach. When you're done enjoying the water, grab a bite or something to drink from one of the beach vendors that are usually present. Bathrooms and showers are also available on this beach.
People love the beaches on Jamaica’s South Coast because they’re never really crowded, and there are other water sports, besides snorkeling, that you can enjoy nearby. If you’re staying at a beach resort in this area like Sandals South Coast, you can try plenty of land and water sports without a single dull moment (unless of course, you prefer it that way!). Popular water sports to try while on Jamaica's South Coast include tubing, water skiing, and sailing.
Port Antonio is heralded as one of the best places in Jamaica to dive because of the variety of sea life frequently spotted in the area. If you'll be staying in Port Antonio, some of the best beaches for snorkeling can be found around Oyster Bay. There are also great spots like the Blue Lagoon that promise exceptional snorkeling experiences. Fed by freshwater springs, the Blue Lagoon is said to be as deep as 200 ft. Fortunately for snorkelers, you can usually see interesting marine life near the surface of these turquoise blue waters. You’ll have to brave myths about the dragon that resides in the lagoon before jumping in though!
Also in Port Antonio, Monkey Island is worth visiting if you want to snorkel. While there aren’t any more monkeys on Monkey Island, the islet (also known as Pellew Island) can be a good place to snorkel. If you visit Monkey Island by boat for a snorkeling trip, you can have fun lounging on the beach, trekking the hiking trails, and enjoying the amazing views. There’s even a diving platform if you're looking for a thrill!
One of the best spots in Falmouth for snorkeling is the Luminous Lagoon. This spot is just about 40 minutes from Montego Bay, and 1 hour from Ocho Rios. While snorkeling here, you can see the glow effect of the harmless dinoflagellates (bioluminescent organisms that glow when touched) up close. There’s also the option of going with a catamaran tour which will provide the snorkeling gear you need, as well as tips for having the best experience. Try doing a tour of the Luminous Lagoon at night where you can have front row seats to see the dinoflagellates. Combined with a snorkeling trip, this can be a truly amazing experience.
Expert tip: There's an abundance of mangroves and white sand beaches around the Luminous Lagoon that can be worth exploring. After your tour and explorations, you can stop for a cocktail and something to eat at the Glistening Waters Restaurant.
Don't leave Kingston out of the mix when seeking out the best snorkeling in Jamaica. There are quite a few fascinating places to go if you want a memorable snorkeling experience in this area. This includes diving and snorkeling at the Sunken City! This historic dive experience requires permission from a dive operator. So, you should definitely decide ahead of time if you want to this truly is a one-of-a-kind dive.
Before diving into the waters around the Sunken City, you'll learn quite a lot from your tour guide about the 1692 earthquake that hit Jamaica and caused most of the city of Port Royal to sink below sea level. While diving there, you're likely to see a few shipwrecks, which are now home to a thriving world of underwater life. Lots of juvenile lobsters, lionfish, spotted drums, and brain coral can be spotted in the area. Scuba diving at the Sunken City will allow you to go deeper and see more compared to snorkeling.
Another fun place to snorkel in Kingston is the Port Royal Cays, which is about 25 minutes from downtown Kingston. You can also get there by taking a short boat ride from Kingston Harbour at Port Royal.
Good to know: Port Royal has a rich pirate history, so in between dives you’re sure to learn a lot about that as well.
Pictured: Beaches Negril, located on the widest stretch of the famous Seven Mile Beach, is a great place to stay while experiencing the best snorkeling in Jamaica!
Whether you're a pro or just starting off, Jamaica is a fun place to snorkel. The best snorkeling spots on this island can be found in areas like Negril, Montego Bay, Runaway Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Royal, and Kingston. In many of these locations, you can snorkel right off the beach, which definitely makes things a lot simpler.
If you’re planning a snorkeling vacation in Jamaica, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. For starters, choose snorkeling locations suitable for your skill level. Being comfortable is a big part of the whole experience. You should also try to select the right accommodation. For dive vacations that include lots of snorkeling, an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica (preferably one that includes snorkeling equipment and even scuba diving) will be ideal. You’ll be able to enjoy a host of quality inclusions while snorkeling and making amazing vacation memories!
Good to know: Once you’ve explored some of the best snorkeling locations in Jamaica, you might want to check out the best places to snorkel in Turks & Caicos.