Scuba Diving In Jamaica
by Wellesley Gayle
If at all you are fond of scuba diving, then you'll cherish the amazing experience of scuba diving in Jamaica? Trust me ;-)
Of course, the beautiful, clear and tranquil Jamaican waters plus the exotic sea life doesn't hurt the sport either!
Lianne Robinson of the Gleaner provides an insightful background into scuba diving in Jamaica here:
Some might argue that it is the white sands, tropical palm trees, and dazzling sunshine that allure holidaymakers from around the world to Jamaica.
In fact, each year the number of tourists visiting Jamaica is increasing, many of these being hungry to dive into the glistening Caribbean Sea and take advantage of what the numerous dive companies have on offer.
Divers will find that the weather for scuba diving in Jamaica is ideal all year round, although it is particularly good from December through to April and Mid-June to September.
That's when the water is between 78-85 degrees Fahrenheit and there is great visibility at about 100 feet.
Head to Negril, where the waters are protected from waves and winds to allow perfect diving conditions. It is the home of many reefs, House Reef, Throne Room, Awee Moway and Treasure Reef, to name a few where the underwater terrain is flat out to the reef several miles offshore.
Here you can expect to see an array of colorful fish including barracuda, angelfish, scorpion fish and walls of giant yellow and red sponges. If you're lucky you may even catch a glimpse of some stingrays, turtles, octopuses, eels and dolphins.
For a completely different experience whilst in Negril, take part in a wreck dive amongst the two coral encrusted Cessna aeroplanes or the 50-foot tugboat, known as the Pete Wreck.
Montego Bay is another exciting spot for scuba diving in Jamaica. It boasts a great selection of dive sites for everyone from the complete beginner to the more experienced diver just minutes from the resorts.
From the shallower water reefs that offer a fantastic place in which to learn to scuba-dive and gain your confidence, to the Cayman Trench wall that awaits you or the swarms of Bermuda Chubbs who will eat out of your hand at Chubb Reef.
Dive deep into the world-famous Windowmaker's Cave where you enter the cave at 30 feet and explore depths of up to 80 feet. Take in the deep-water gorgonians and gorgeous black coral.
From Ocho Rios to Runaway Bay, the reef is alive with brightly coloured tropical fish, grouper, snapper, stingrays, green morays, barracuda, nurse sharks and turtles. A site not to be missed in Runaway Bay is the Canyon.
Here two walls begin parallel 20 feet apart in 40 feet of water and maintain a 30-foot depth while the bottom slopes down to over 130 feet. Check out the Wreck of Katryn, a 50-foot dive to a 140-foot minesweeper that was deliberately sunk and now home to a vast variety of marine life.
When on the south of the island scuba offers a completely different diving experience. Glide around the submerged remains of the historic city of Port Royal, the former pirate and smuggler haunt that sunk during the earthquake hundreds of years ago.
Here the scenery offers slopes of shallower and darker sandy waters with fewer coral heads. King Harbour near Port Antonio offers exceptional coral colour due to the minerals from the freshwater springs around the Blue Lagoon.
Robert Hew from the Jamaica Scuba Diving Club (JSDC), recommends the Blue Hole site in Port Antonio as one of the best for scuba diving in Jamaica. "Expect to see some large fish, sharks, sting-rays and turtles." Let's not forget Kingston, often forgotten, but swimming, literally, with an abundance of colour and activity.
Hew loves to dive in Kingston. "One of my favourite spots to dive is at the cays at Kingston. Here you get to see a fantastic selection of large fish, turtles and sharks." For some great photo opportunities the Windward Edge can be reached by a 30-minute boat ride to the outside of the of Kingston cays.
The capital city is also home to the Norwegian cargo ship that caught fire in 1977, The Cayman Trader. Another fun dive is The Texas, an 110-foot U.S. navy ship that went down in 1944. Still intact and covered in black coral, it offers a truly amazing experience.
There are not many places on the island that do not hold an underwater secret waiting to be uncovered. With most of the main resorts now offering a vast selection of scuba packages such as Discover Scuba, Open Water Referral course, Rescue Dive Course and Dive Master Courses, it is nearly impossible to resist the charm that the warm inviting waters of Jamaica have to offer.
[Robinson, Lianne, The Jamaica Gleaner]
Scuba-Diving-Smiles.com, by the way, provides an insightful and comprehensive guide to scuba diving in the Jamaica and the Caribbean
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