The Best Places For Snorkeling In Jamaica

Snorkeling among sergeant major fish.
Snorkeling among sergeant major fish. | © National Geographic Image Collection / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lola Mendez
6 August 2020

Being an island nation tucked into the Caribbean Sea, it’s no surprise that Jamaica has endless locations for world-class snorkeling, with many coral reefs located in crystal-clear shallow waters making them great for all skill levels. You’re sure to spot sea urchins, conch shells, pufferfish, seahorses, triggerfish and more around Jamaica’s beautiful reefs. Keep your eyes peeled for clownfish dotting in and out of colorful anemone. These are the best places for snorkeling in Jamaica.

Montego Bay Marine Park

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Montego Bay is a major tourist hotspot in Jamaica that boasts phenomenal coral reefs. Jamaica’s first protected marine park, Montego Bay Marine Park is an excellent spot to go snorkeling in the vibrant underwater world. Due to conservation and restoration efforts, the coral here is thriving. Within the area, there’s plenty of shallow snorkeling that is 10 meters deep with great visibility. As the area is protected, this is one of the most eco-friendly places to go snorkeling in Jamaica.

Negril Coral Reef

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Couple snorkeling off the cliffs of Negril, Jamaica
© Mark J. Barrett / Alamy Stock Photo
Jamaica’s beautiful seaside resort town of Negril offers many spots to explore rich marine biodiversity. It’s possible to enjoy snorkeling right off the seven-mile-long coastline, but the best place to see aquatic life in the area is the Negril Coral Reef. The coral reef formation is located two miles off of the coast in shallow waters. There are many boat tours taking snorkel enthusiasts out to the area to swim with tropical fish, including the harmless and small thimble jellyfish.

Oyster Bay

Architectural Landmark, Natural Feature
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Port Antonio has a marine park with an exciting world to explore under the water. Some of the best snorkeling in the area can be done at Oyster Bay within the Alligator Head Foundation Fish and Reef Sanctuary. This zone features eight miles (13km) of interconnected coral reefs and walls. Oyster Bay is a great spot for beginner snorkelers as the water’s surface is usually calm and there’s very little current. The sea here has great visibility making it easy to enjoy all the sanctuary has to offer.

Runaway Bay

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A Man Holds A Large Conch Shell In The Ocean; Runaway Bay Jamaica
© Design Pics Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
Runaway Bay on the northern coast is celebrated as one of Jamaica’s top snorkeling spots. The reefs start right off the shore near the Franklyn D Resort and Spa and are home to diverse marine life. It’s common to see many vibrant schools of fish here including Creole wrasse, French grunt fish, parrotfish, and angelfish. Occasionally snorkelers see barracudas, stingrays, lionfish, sea urchins, and more frolicking around the corals.

Luminous Lagoon

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lagoon 5 4
"Luminous Lagoon" in Falmouth | © Jamaica Tourist Board

Nighttime snorkels are always exciting as many of the most mysterious underwater critters come out in the dark. In Jamaica, you have the unique opportunity to do a night snorkel in glowing sparkling waters. Extremely rare dinoflagellate phosphorescent microbes that only survive where the warm fresh waters of the Martha Brae River meet the salty seawater light up the nighttime sea. You can enjoy this phenomenon at the Luminous Lagoon in Falmouth.

Devil’s Reef

Natural Feature
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Jamaica, West Indies, Saint Ann parish, off Ocho Rios, snorkling from catamaran
Jamaica, West Indies, Saint Ann parish, off Ocho Rios, snorkling from catamaran | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s north coast boasts rich sea life. Snorkeling is a popular aquatic activity in the area. The reef system is one of the best places around the island to spot majestic manta rays and eagle rays. Among the colorful coral at Devil’s Reef, you’ll also come across nurse sharks, scorpionfish, spadefish, snapper, sea slugs, pufferfish, trumpet fish, sergeant major and sea urchins.
These recommendations were updated on August 6, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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