The Global Director of Brand at PADI, Julie Andersen, shares her top tips for diving on the island.
Diving in Jamaica offers the chance to see rays, sharks, sea turtles, colourful fish and corals up close. Jamaica’s crystal-clear waters invite scuba divers to come back again and again to explore.
You’ll see sponges, soft gorgonians, black coral, sea fans… and that’s not even touching the 260-plus types of reef fish you’re likely to come across while scuba diving in Jamaica. Some of the rarities you may encounter include the four-eye butterflyfish and sharpnose puffer.
You’ll also see parrot fish, sea slugs, green and spotted moray eels, mackerel, turtles, crabs, barracuda, eagle rays, and more – not forgetting of course, the various hard and soft corals. Be sure to go to the Arches and the Caves, incredible rock structures where you can see rays and sharks. If you’re a beginner, one of the best sites to try is the Surprise Reef, a pretty reef that is frequented by turtles and parrotfish.
Q&A WITH JULIE ANDERSEN, GLOBAL DIRECTOR OF BRAND, PADI
WHAT IS SCUBA DIVING IN JAMAICA LIKE?
If you go to Jamaica, diving in Ocho Rios (AKA Ochi) is an absolute must. Ocho Rios is located on the beautiful northeast side of the island, in the parish of St. Ann. Situated near the Jamaican Blue Mountains, it is a thriving tourist area with a beautiful underwater landscape.
WHAT ARE THE TOP SITES IN JAMAICA?
Choosing a dive site in Jamaica is a process of determining what you’d like to see. There are over 100 active dive sites in Jamaica, and interest should match skill level to find the right one. To decide, ask yourself things like whether you’d be satisfied with seeing just tropical fishes, turtles and colourful coral of all types, or if you want to seek out rays and maybe even nurse sharks. Whatever the answer, there’s a dive site for you in Jamaica:
This shipwreck is one of the most popular dive sites in Ocho Rios. It is an old minesweeper, which was sunk in 50 feet (ft) / 15 metres (m) of water in the 1980s along a cavernous reef system. The ship is approximately 120ft / 37m in length. From the surface to the upper most part of the ship, it is 20ft / 6m.
What to see: barrel sponges, sea fans, sting rays, sergeant majors, flaming scallops, nurse sharks, caverns, lobsters, eels, sea snakes, hamlets, and snapper.
A spectacular site for Advanced level divers, this reef is relatively flat, however it tapers off very gently down to 60ft / 18m. This site is also great for night dives.
What to see: barracuda, lionfish, sting rays, crabs, lobsters, parrotfish, butterfly fish, chromis, damsels, barrel sponges, sea fans.
Located just three minutes from the Sandals Ochi Beach Resort.
What to see: turtles, Atlantic spades, eels, jacks, nurse sharks, barrel sponges, sea fans and gorgonians.
Advanced diver? Don’t miss out on Shark’s Reef, an out-of-the-way site where nurse sharks lounge and large stingrays rest on the sandy bottom. While visiting Montego Bay, dive the Wreck, a plane wreck lying at 18m. The many reefs within the bay are some of the best and healthiest in Jamaica, so take some time to explore these vibrant hideaways.
If you haven’t yet discovered the underwater world but you’re thinking about becoming a diver, as summer approaches it’s the perfect time to dive in and learn to scuba. The weather is generally better, the waters are warmer and the seas calmer. These conditions are ideal to get scuba certified. The first step is to book your PADI Open Water Diver Course with a verified PADI Dive Centre. In doing so, you can be assured you’re receiving top training from qualified dive professionals. They will guide you as you begin this exciting journey underwater.
HOW MANY PADI DIVE CENTRES ARE THERE IN JAMAICA?
PADI has over 20 PADI Dive Centres and resorts to choose from! You can book your dive adventure at https://www.padi.com/dive-shops/jamaica/
PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors®) is the largest purpose-driven diving organisation with a global community of 6,600 dive centres and resorts, 128,000 professional members and more than 29 million certified divers to date. Entirely committed to our blue planet, PADI empowers people around the world to experience, explore and take meaningful action to protect the world beneath the surface.