If you thought Jamaica was vibrant on land, just wait until you see it underwater! When it comes to snorkeling in Jamaica, people on the island are blessed. Jamaica is home to diverse coral reefs and marine ecosystems.
It’s more than just the reefs themselves that make Jamaica great for snorkeling. The waters around this little island are crystal clear, very calm, and warm year-round.
Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or you’ll be trying it for the first time, there are lots of snorkeling spots in Jamaica that you’ll love.
Seven Mile Beach
If you’re on vacation in Negril, it would be pretty hard to not step foot on Seven Mile Beach. This miles-long stretch is one of the best beaches in Jamaica for snorkeling (and overall, too!).
There are several reefs just past the shore. Also, a few miles off the coast is the Negril Coral Reef. This shallow reef is home to an abundance of wildlife, from coral to fish, to urchins, to (harmless) jellyfish. You can have a guide take you out here by boat so you can see even more kinds of marine life than you would near the shore.
The impeccably-named Throne Room is a sight worth seeing. Off the shore of Negril, this is a popular spot for scuba divers, thanks to the caves here. Snorkelers, however, will have plenty to enjoy on the outside.
The exterior walls of the caves are lined with sponges and there are also plenty of coral formations around. The sand channels in between them give you a good chance of glimpsing starfish, lobsters, and stingrays!
Booby Cay is a small island named for the booby birds that call it home. It’s just a short boat ride from Bloody Bay or the neighboring Seven Mile Beach.
Over time, hurricanes have caused some damage to the reef around Booby Cay, so you’ll see dead coral in some places. For the most part, however, the underwater wildlife here is thriving. Residents of the reef here include octopuses, starfish, and a whole lot of tropical fish.
There are often locals cooking on the island, with lobster being quite popular, so you can plan to have a meal here after snorkeling, too!
Montego Bay Marine Park
The Montego Bay Marine Park is a six-square-mile protected area off the shore of Jamaica’s tourist capital, Montego Bay. Thanks to the conservation and limited fishing in the area, the marine life here is thriving. This is no doubt one of the best places to snorkel in Jamaica!
Several beaches have their waters within the park, including the popular Doctor’s Cave Beach, Dead End Beach, and Aquasol Beach.
The mangroves are a must-see here, too. You can experience them with a canoe ride. You can also take a canoe to the outer, deeper edge of the reef, where you can dive.
Doctor’s Cave Beach
Doctor’s Cave Beach is often packed, and for good reason. It’s one of the best beaches in Jamaica and is wonderful for snorkeling. Just plan to get here earlier in the day to avoid crowds, especially on cruise ship days.
Doctor’s Cave Beach is one of the beaches in the Montego Bay Marine Park, so you can expect the wildlife here to be abundant. You’ll see lots of unique-looking and colorful fish here, including needlefish and wrasses.
The beach club at Doctor’s Cave Beach is also a huge plus for a relaxing snorkeling day, with plenty of amenities available onsite.
If you have a bit more experience snorkeling, you might want to try an offshore reef like Marley’s Garden. It’s a short boat ride from the coast of Montego Bay. 40 feet down from the surface lies a vibrant coral reef with many aquatic residents, from sea fans to squirrelfish.
Marley’s Garden is best experienced by scuba diving but you can also enjoy the view while snorkeling.
Runaway Bay Wall
Want to snorkel in peace, away from the crowds? Runaway Bay is a north coast destination that’s loved for being more lowkey. It’s also loved for its snorkeling spots!
The Runaway Bay Wall, as the name might imply, is a large barrier reef. To go along with its size, there are many kinds of aquatic life to be found in and around the reef. There are barracuda, angelfish, parrotfish, Creole wrasse, and more!
Cardiff Hall Beach
Another well-loved snorkeling spot in Runaway Bay is Cardiff Hall Beach. It’s located just off the main road of Runaway Bay and is one of the few public beaches left in town, though there is also a beach club onsite with showers and a bar.
The waters here are teeming with wildlife, and a wide variety of them, too. In addition to the plethora of tropical fish, you’ll likely see things like sea urchins and stingrays, too!
Pear Tree Bottom Reef
A mile outside of Runaway Bay, the Pear Tree River empties into the sea and forms a cove. Just west of here, and a little swim over, you’ll find the Pear Tree Bottom Reef.
The reef itself is in shallow water, though there are deep waters nearby. Thanks to this, there’s a higher chance you’ll see larger wildlife like stingrays and barracuda swimming around the reef.
Jamaica’s south coast is known for how undisturbed it is compared to the north and west coasts. Bluefields Beach is a perfect example of this. This beach on the southwest coast is quiet and unassuming, hiding a stunning coral reef.
For an extra serene and relaxing experience, go during the week rather than the weekend. With the lack of a crowd, you’ll have a better chance of seeing larger animals like stingrays and turtles.
Opposite Negril and Montego Bay, Port Antonio is another trove of hidden gems. The area around this town, on Jamaica’s northeast coast, has a marine park and is home to fantastic snorkeling spots.
Oyster Bay is considered one of the best places to snorkel around Port Antonio. It’s located within a sanctuary, where you can find eight miles of coral reefs! The waters at this bay are exceptionally calm, so they’re especially great for beginner snorkelers.
Compared to other areas in Jamaica, Ocho Rios isn’t the best for snorkeling. There are, however, a few places where you can.
One such place is Devil’s Reef. It’s quite deep (the reef is 65 feet below the surface) and thus more popular with scuba divers.
The coral reef here is truly beautiful, though, and snorkeling is offered by several diving companies that go out to this area. If you do go, you might see turtles, barracuda, snappers, and nurse sharks!