Jamaica is located in the tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea and sports an average water temperature around 82 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. December to April and mid-June to September is considered the best diving months. The visibility is great – averagely 100 feet or more, but with occasional dips to 60-80 feet. Currents are usually very light. Many divers appreciate that you don’t have to travel far to get to the diving sites. At Jamaica, splendid dive sites can be found only a few minutes from shore.
Jamaica is a volcanic island resting on the edge of the Cayman Trench and features excellent diving at all depths for beginners as well as experienced divers. The water around the island is filled with coral reefs, canyons and caves. Among the most highly regarded dive sites at Jamaica are Throne Room, Widowmaker's Cave and Canyon. The Throne Room is a 40-foot-wide cavern located at 65 feet. It’s filled with gigantic yellow sponges and is an amazing experience for anyone.
Most of the diving take place along the northern shore of the island, as Jamaicas northern cost has a divers reef structure and is very suitable for those fond of wall diving. At the edge of the Cayman Trench, steep walls begin at 60 ft (20 metres) and drop down to over 150 ft (50 metres). Overhangs and ledges are common, and the walls are covered in both soft and hard corals. The predominant colours are yellow, orange, red and pink and you will be able to see elephant ear, tube, basket and rope sponge – just to mention a few. There are also a lot of black coral and gorgonian. Spotted moray eels, lobsters and king crabs are usually seen while diving in this area.
Pollution, tourism etcetera combined with natural factors such as hurricanes have had a bad impact on the coral reefs around Jamaica, and the island is now focusing heavily on environmental preservation and education. Buoys are now used for anchoring and the sale of all black and white coral is prohibited by law. The sea turtles are also protected by law and mustn’t be disturbed. In addition to the legislation, The Jamaica Association of Dive Operators has adopted their own set of rules to protect the reefs and the marine life.
The Montego Bay Marine Park was established in 1990 to preserve the popular Montego Bay. The park stretches from the Donald Sangster Internatinal Airport to the Great River. One of the diving sites mentioned earlier – Widowmakers Cave – is located within this park. You can enter the cave at about 80 feet and rise through the cave until you get to a 10 feet wide chimney, through which you can exit at about 35 feet.
The newest dive site on Jamaica is a Canadian mine sweeper called Kathryn. She was sunk in Ocho Ricos, about a mile east of the mouth of the White River. The idea is to create an artificial reef and develop a marine garden, suitable for fish breeding. The sinking of Kathryn is also a way of preserving the natural reefs by creating a new one that will hopefully become popular among the divers.