The Fun of Snorkeling in Jamaica

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Every year people flock to Jamaica to frolic in and around the water. For some, this involves sunbathing and wading while for others, snorkeling is a greater attraction. Keep in mind that many people also scuba dive in Jamaica but for someone who is not certified or perhaps not that adventurous, an excellent alternative is snorkeling. This activity is easy to learn and it provides the opportunity to experience the underwater life of the Caribbean.

An individual going to Jamaica can bring personal snorkeling equipment but this is also something readily available through dive shops, scuba diving schools, and even many of the island’s resorts. While prices do vary, most snorkeling packages cost less than 20 USD, which consists of a special mask with a snorkel used to breathe. Of course, a person can also use flippers for navigating the water and/or jackets to help with buoyancy but they are not mandatory for snorkeling.

The best snorkeling water is shallow, clear, and calm, which is why the waters around Jamaica are so popular. However, there are also a number of great snorkeling places in Montego Bay, which is only an hour’s drive from Jamaica. For instance, Doctor’s Cave Beach is among the favorite spots because it is accessible, the mineral spring water is warm, and the underwater adventure amazing. Abundant sea life is also found around Ocho Rios but for beginners, we strongly recommend.

Some of the hot spots for snorkeling in Jamaica include Royal Reefs, Coyoba, and Seaworld. All three of these locations boast incredible sea life such as brown chromis, yellow-headed wrasses, barjacks, and spotlight parrotfish. Because the waters are so calm and clear, people of all ages can enjoy snorkeling. If preferred, a person can snorkel out further from shore but because the waters are harder to manage it is recommended to hire a qualified snorkeling guide.

Even though water where snorkeling is done is shallower and calmer than water for scuba diving, there are still important things to know and rules to follow. For the most part, waters surrounding Jamaica are tranquil but things can go awry. Following are some important tips that even an experienced snorkeler needs to remember:

Awareness
Snorkelers need to be aware of several things. For instance, currents can be deceiving and as such, they can slowly pull a person too far away from shore or push them into challenging waters. It is also important to be aware of time, which can slip by quickly when snorkeling.

Feeding Fish /Touching Coral
While tempting, snorkeling is about having the opportunity to see underwater marine life and coral up close and personal, not about feeding fish and/or touching coral. This may seem innocent enough but unfortunately, feeding can lead to aggressive behavior in some fish and touching can actually damage coral’s vital protective layer.

Jewelry
There are certain species of fish that are naturally drawn to shiny objects such as earrings, watches, and necklaces. These include barracudas that have teeth and can innocently bite.

Respect of Coral Reefs
If snorkeling around a coral reef, it is imperative not to walk or stand on it. In addition to the risk of coral being damaged, certain marine life, including stingray, fire coral, jellyfish, moray eels, spines, and sea urchins that can cause painful stings love to hide in dark crevices.

Respect of the Sea
Even if an object appears innocent, it is actually illegal in Jamaica to remove anything from coral reefs and dive/snorkeling sites.

Dive Flag
Although a dive flag is typically used by scuba divers as a way to notify boaters that someone is below the water’s surface, this is something that should be considered by snorkelers as well, especially someone who snorkels further away from shore.

Sharks
The great thing about snorkeling in Jamaica is that shark sightings are extremely rare. Although sharks are seen from time-to-time, most are quite docile. However, anytime a shark is spotted, a person needs to consider it as a potential risk. In a situation such as this, it is important to remain quiet and calm while slowly making it back to shore.