Best Snorkeling in Jamaica| Shore and Boat Spots

Pristine beaches, palm trees, and reggae is what comes to mind when you think of Jamaica. Home of the legendary Bob Marley, this tropical paradise is extraordinary.

Jamaica boasts some of the world’s best snorkeling spots. It has an array of stunning beaches and over six hundred miles of beautiful coastline. Its vibrant reefs are teeming with colorful marine life in crystal clear blue waters offering plenty of spots to snorkel Jamaica from caves along the shore to large offshore reef snorkeling. 

In this Post:

Get your underwater cameras ready for an unforgettable snorkeling experience in the Caribbean. Let’s take a look at some of the best snorkeling in Jamaica.


JAMAICA SNORKELING MAP

Click on the map for a detailed interactive map!

BEST AREAS FOR SNORKELING IN JAMAICA

If you’re looking for the best place to snorkel in Jamaica, then these areas should be at the top of your list. There are options for beginners learning to snorkel as well as challenging sites for advanced swimmers.  The most popular spot on the island is for sure Negril, but several others on this list are wonderful as well. Doctor’s Cave Beach Snorkeling is one of my personal favorite spots for the close to shore reef with all the amenities nearby.

In a hurry and just want to know our top picks for the Best Snorkeling in Jamaica?

Negril or Montego Bay

Looking for the Best Resort for Snorkeling off the Beach in Jamaica? Here are our top picks:

Rockhouse Hotel (Negril)
S Hotel (Montego Bay)
Secrets Wild Orchid (Montego Bay)

Negril is known to have some of the best snorkeling Jamaica has to offer, but make sure to snorkel Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Runaway Bay for plenty of underwater action.


MONTEGO BAY SNORKELING

view of beach at Doctor's Cave Beach in Montego Bay Jamaica

Entry: Beach or Boat
Experience: Beginner to advanced 
Where to Stay: S Hotel (direct access to Doctor’s Cave Beach); Secrets Wild Orchid(direct access to Secrets Reef)
Tour: Island Routes to Doctor’s Cave Reef and Margaritaville

Montego Bay is home to the Montego Bay Marine Park, a 15 square kilometer protected area just offshore with limited fishing allowed and additional conservation efforts to preserve the reefs. These additional protections allow the fish and coral to thrive making it a great spot to snorkel!

The two main spots for snorkeling in Montego Bay are Doctor’s Cave Reef and Secrets Reef, which can both be accessed by beach or boat. The larger catamaran snorkeling tours typically go to Secrets Reef, while the smaller snorkeling boat tours typically head to Doctor’s Cave.

Doctor’s Cave Reef

Doctor’s Cave Reef is located just off Doctor’s Cave Beach and is within swimming distance even for beginner to intermediate swimmers. The edges of the reef are located within the boundaries of the beach buoys, making it one of the best places to snorkel in Jamaica within the protection of a beach area and with lifeguards on duty. Keep in mind that this is the most popular beach in Montego Bay, so it will be busy- especially on cruise ship days.

Many snorkel boats will be moored just on the other side of the beach buoys at Doctor’s Cave, so strong swimmers can cross and snorkel the reef beyond the beach. Just make sure to be aware of your surroundings and wear a dive buoy as this area does have boat traffic.

Secrets Reef

Secrets Reef is just off Secrets Wild Orchid Resort, one of the best snorkeling resorts in Jamaica, and on the other side of Montego Bay near the Cruise Dock. A bit of a longer swim to the reef than from Doctor’s Cave Beach, secrets reef will reward you with a vast reef to explore. We haven’t made it to this reef yet, but several locals mentioned that it was really fantastic. So, it’s on the list for this fall.

In addition to those spots, there are also several other spots for snorkeling Montego Bay along the coast where the reef can be reached by boat, but none with as good of snorkeling as these two locations. Some resorts like Sandals offer quick trips out to the reef right in front of their properties.

Check out our Complete Guide to Snorkeling in Montego Bay, including snorkel maps, HERE.


NEGRIL SNORKELING

snorkeling spots just from above the water facing Booby Cay near Negril, Jamaica

Entry: Boat
Experience: Beginner to intermediate
Access: From the beach and boats for further out snorkeling experience
Where to Stay: Rockhouse Hotel (on site snorkeling)
Tour: Catamaran Cruise with snorkeling, Rick’s Cafe cliff jumping, and 7 Mile Beach

Seven Mile Beach is a favorite when it comes to snorkeling in Negril, and is one of the island’s best. It’s famed for its long stretch of pristine white-sand beach hugging the gem clear waters. 

The shallow waters surrounding Negril’s famous beach offers safe snorkeling for beginners. It’s a great option for those who prefer to stay out of the deeper waters. 

Seven Mile Beach has some of the best and most exclusive luxury resorts in Negril. There’s an endless amount of aquatic activities along its coast – such as scuba diving, kayaking, and skiing. 

Negril Reef Snorkeling

At the Negril Coral Reef, about a half mile offshore, lies one of the best places for snorkeling in Negril, Jamaica. You can catch a boat from your resort and head to the reef to explore the exotic waters, and it’s undisturbed coral reefs for the closest seven mile beach snorkeling. 

For a fun day of Negril Jamaica snorkeling, hop on a Catamaran Cruise to relax on Seven Mile Beach, explore the reef, and stop off at Rick’s Cafe. Rick’s Cafe is the famous spot where you can watch the cliff divers- or even try it yourself if you’re brave enough!

Booby Cay Island

If you’re looking for a secluded Negril snorkeling spot, Booby Cay Island is the perfect place. It’s a small island just off the shore of Negril’s Seven Mile Beach. It got its name from the booby birds who inhabit the island for their breeding grounds. 

Undisturbed coral reefs provide a sanctuary for large populations of marine life, making the snorkeling opportunities superb. There are quite a few large sea urchins lurking in the shallow water surrounding Booby Cay, so make sure to watch out for them!

The island is open to the public 24-hours a day. However, you’ll have to take a boat to access it.

Rockhouse Hotel Snorkeling

The Rockhouse Hotel is one of our favorite Jamaica snorkeling resorts. Perched atop the cliffs at the end of 7 mile beach and The Rockhouse has some of the best snorkeling Negril has to offer, and all right from shore. The coral is vibrant and healthy, and there are tons of tropical fish. Not to mention, the hotel itself is beautiful! It’s worth a stay just for the easy access to some of the best snorkeling in Jamaica, right at your doorstep.


OCHO RIOS SNORKELING

aerial view of turtle bay snorkeling and beach area in Ochos Rios, Jamaica

Entry: Beach or Boat
Experience: Beginner to Advanced 
Access: Beach or Boat
Where to Stay: RIU Ocho Rios
Tour: Island Routes All Day Power Boat Adventure

Ocho Rios is a popular tourist spot in Jamaica, and it does have some snorkeling, but I wouldn’t rank it up there with Negril or Montego Bay. So, if you’re planning a trip specifically for great snorkeling, I’d look elsewhere. But, if you happen to be in the area, make sure to check out some of the best snorkeling in Ocho Rios either by boat trip out to the reef or from shore at the RIU Ocho Rios.

The best snorkeling spots are about 20 minutes from Ocho Rios near Laughing Waters Waterfall and the RIU Ocho Rios. If you take a snorkel tour from Ocho Rios, you are most likely going to end up snorkeling at this reef. It’s also quite near to Dunns River Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls in Jamaica.

Devil’s Reef is a popular spot for scuba diving, and is often mentioned on snorkel sites, but it’s not a snorkel spot as the reef is quite deep there.

If you’re looking for a fun and more independent type of tour, we love small boat tours and private tours like this one. You get away from all of the crowds of the larger boats and can explore at your own pace.


RUNAWAY BAY SNORKELING

Entry: Beach
Experience: Beginner
Access: Beach
Where to Stay: Franklyn D Resort and Spa

Runaway Bay is found on the northern coast of the island and has some good snorkeling right off shore from the Franklyn D Resort and Spa. It’s the perfect place to escape the crowds and snorkel right from its sandy shores.  Again, it won’t compare with Negril or Montego Bay, but Runaway Bay does offer a bit of underwater life to explore.

The reefs start a few feet from the resort’s edge. The Runaway Bay Wall is just past and is a popular dive spot in the area. Runaway Bay is a great addition for anyone looking to see a good variety of marine species during their snorkeling experience in Jamaica. 


WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON JAMAICAN SNORKELING?

Minimal waves and crystal clear waters make snorkeling Jamaica great for families and beginners as well as seasoned snorkelers. The coral reefs hugging the Jamaican coastline play home to hundreds of species of colorful fish. Most resorts in the country provide tours and lessons for snorkeling enthusiasts. 
Are you ready for your snorkeling experience in Jamaica? Get your best snorkel mask on and explore some of the best of the Caribbean and its beautiful waters. Where do you think are the best snorkeling spots in Jamaica? Comment below to let us know where we need to check out next!

collage of snorkeling spots in Jamaica, with text overlay "6 can't miss snorkel spots in Jamaica"
Pin it!

 Looking for more Jamaica information to plan your trip? Check out all of our Jamaica Guides HERE.

About the author
Kristin Young