When you think of Jamaica, what pops into your head? Perhaps it is Bob Marley and Reggae. Maybe the beautiful beaches. It might be the all-inclusive resorts like Sandals and Beaches. But for fishermen, you should think of Jamaica as a smorgasbord of fish. On any trip, there is the possibility of landing “the big one,” a 300+ Blue Marlin or many other sportfish in the deep blue, going to the reefs to catch some tasty dinner or try your luck with the fun to catch fish in the flats. There is something for everyone here on “The Rock.”
The majority of charter fishing happens on the north side of the island. Montego Bay, Falmouth, Ochos Rios, and Port Antonio are located from the Northwest to the Northeast of the island. Negril is located on the furthest western tip of the island, and there is some good fishing off its shores. There is fishing on the island’s southern side, but most of this activity is local fishers going out to the Pedro Bank about 80 miles offshore. The bank is a rich fishing ground but too far to go for a day charter. Kingston and Port Royal have some charters that fish the Kingston Harbor and venture to the deep. The waters here are not as fruitful, but they are also not as crowded. No matter where you decide to drop your line, there are experienced charter boats with captains and crews that know these waters. There are many popular marinas, especially in Montego Bay and Port Antonio. With all of these charters, you are sure to have a great time. Fishing in Jamaica is very “Irie,” meaning good and pleasing with a laid-back approach. Many charters will party and entertain with Reggae music and Red Stripe Beer on the way out, but once out to the fishing grounds, it becomes serious business.
Jamaica is one of the best places to catch a Blue Marlin because of their number in the waters in the summer and early fall months. Because of these numbers and the size, Jamaica holds many prestigious fishing tournaments. The Port Antonio International Blue Marlin Tournament and The Jamaica International Marlin Tournament have anglers from all over competing for huge cash prizes and entrance to the Bisbee’s Black and Blue Tournament in Costa Rica. Other tournaments of note are the Falmouth Fishing Tournament, The Discovery Bay Marlin Tournament and the Royal Jamaican Yacht’s Club Fishing Tournament.
But you do not have to enter yourself in one of these tournaments to get tournament action year-round in the waters off the coast. The waters of Jamaica are deep, really, really deep. The Cayman Trench, the third deepest trench in the world topping off at over 25,000 ft. deep, is right off the northern shore. It is so close that within a few miles, you are hundreds of feet deep and a short distance further 2-3000 ft. deep. These depths bring up currents that bring baitfish to the surface and attract lots of large pelagic fish. You can fish for White and Blue Marlin, Sailfish, Swordfish, Wahoo, Mahi-Mahi (Dolphin or Dorado), Yellowfin, Blackfin and Albacore Tuna. You might also see bonito, mackerel, sharks and barracudas. Most of these species are found year-round in Jamaica’s waters, but many have seasons where their numbers are better.
While the majority of the charters head for the deep waters and the monsters that live there inshore at the reefs is still a great way to spend a day. There is a flourishing reef system all along the coast that attracts a variety of fish. Smaller baitfish means that there are larger predators to be had. Some fish targetted on the reefs are Grouper, Yellowtail, Redtail, and Mutton Snapper, Amberjacks, Jack Crevalle, Rainbow Runners, King Mackerel, Barracuda and more that call these colorful reefs home. Inshore fishing is much more relaxed and is a perfect excursion for the whole family. Also, it is not as rough as it is offshore, which makes for a much more calm and Irie day.
You can also fish the flats and shallower waters inshore here. Bonefish, Tarpon, Barracuda and the occasional Wahoo can all be found. As any angler knows, these are all fun, feisty fish with bursts of speed and spectacular jumps. It is a blast trying to reel them in, but each one of them are escape artists with razor-sharp fins used to slice lines and shaking heads spitting out lures and hooks. You can fly fish or use light tackle. While you can do some shore fishing, your best bet to get on the fish is on a small boat with a seasoned guide who can help sight fish for you.
No matter where you decide to fish, the Jamaican waters will provide you with excitement and hopefully a full cooler by the end of the day.
Jamaica is a fisherman’s dream, but there is so much more to do during a vacation here. There are over 100 dive sites that range from beginner sites to masters only. You can explore the beautiful coral reefs or perhaps go see the remnants of the pirate city of Port Royal, which was considered to be the wickedest place on Earth till an Earthquake sunk the city in 1692. Now you can go down and explore this lost city. There are also great snorkeling opportunities throughout the island, with the reefs being so close to shore.
Jamaica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Negril Beach is a six-mile powder-white beach with palm trees and crystal clear aqua water. There is plenty to do here with watersports and many resorts located on the beach. Frenchman’s Cove is a small Instagram-worthy beach that has been described as one of the most beautiful places on Earth. With white sand and swaying palm trees, and a small river emptying into the crystal clear water, it is well worth the small drive to get to. James Bond Beach is another small beach with charm and beauty. It was the site of Dr. No, the first James Bond movie starring Sean Connery, thus the name. And looking at the scenery, you can see why it was chosen. Doctor’s Cave Beach is a popular Montego Bay beach. There are plenty of watersports along with restaurants and shops. Another Montego Bay beach is Aqua Sol. This beach is popular with locals and tourists alike. It is a perfect family beach with white sand and the Aqua Sol Theme Park right next door. Here, you can ride go-carts, play tennis and volleyball, and partake in a variety of watersports. Boston Bay in Port Antonio is also known as Jamaica’s premier surf spot. The waves are not huge, but you can still hang ten. Boston Bay is also popular for a food that Jamaica is famous for, Jerk. The Boston Jerk Center is right here serving the island’s best food to hungry patrons. No matter which beach you go to, any of the above or the hundred or so more around the island, they all have white sands and calm aquamarine waters. Some of these beaches have world-class resorts like the All-inclusive Sandals and Beaches Resorts. The majority of these resorts are in Ocho Rios and Negril.
Jamaica is also known for its beautiful nature. There are over 36 waterfalls found on the island. Dunn’s River Falls is the most popular and famous. This 180 ft. tall waterfall has many tiers you can climb and pools you can cool off in. YS Falls is found in the Southwestern part of the island near the Black River. There are seven levels of waterfalls. Steps have been built so you would not get too wet and better view the cascading waters. Reach Waterfalls is one of the prettiest falls on the island. It is a short hike through the forest, but you can explore underwater caves and swim in the large pool under the falls once you arrive. Safety first!! This is such a popular place that there is a lifeguard on duty, even in the middle of the jungle. The island has many rivers, and a fun and relaxing way to spend the day is on a bamboo raft being poled down the river. As you meander through the tropical forests, your guides can explain the flora and fauna and stories of the island, and when not talking, will entertain you with a little impromptu Reggae.These tours are offered on the Martha Brae and the Rio Grande rivers. The Blue and the John Crow Mountains are a must for hikers and coffee lovers. This is where Blue Mountain Coffee is grown, and you can visit one of the plantations to see how coffee is grown, sample some coffee, and purchase your own beans. Hiking to the Blue Mountain Peak takes two days but is worth it, with breathtaking views of the island and Cuba in the distance on clear days.
In and around the major towns are plantations and old homes to explore, like the Rose Hall Estate where the White Witch, Annie Pots, ruled with cruelty and black magic. For the brave, you can take an evening ghost tour of the estate where you might even run into the White Witch herself haunting the mansion. In Kingston, there is the Bob Marley Museum. Bob Marley is a symbol of Jamaica and reggae music. His wife converted their home into a museum six years ago, and you can see all kinds of unique items like his gold and platinum albums, some of his favorite clothing and his famous star-shaped guitar lying on his bed. The home and museum have become a mecca for Marley fans worldwide, and if you are lucky, you might just run into Ziggy or one of his other children.
You cannot talk about Jamaica without talking about the food, specifically Jerk. Jerk has its roots here on the island. This spicy and delicious blend of spices and scotch bonnet peppers is delicious on chicken, lobster, shrimp and pork are all grilled to perfection. The best place on the island to get some is the Boston Jerk Center in Boston, just outside of Port Antonio. Also voted one of the best places on the island for jerk is Scotchies in Montego Bay. You can get great jerk all over the island, but Boston is where the first pits made it a worldwide favorite.
There are many outdoor activities you can partake in. The Tyrall Club Golf Course is a challenging par 71 Championship course that has been host to a few golf championships like the Mazda Championship and the Johnny Walker World Championship. There is also the White Witch Golf Course located on the Rose Hall Estate.This is a beautiful and demanding course where 16 of the holes have ocean views. You can zip through trees, mountain bike through the rainforest, take a bobsled run down a mountain and ride horses in the surf.
Jamaica is a beautiful island with lush green tropical forests, majestic waterfalls and incredible beaches. The water surrounding it is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and surfing. The deep waters and reefs are home to many trophy fish, making Jamaica a fishing destination for anglers globally. Come feel the “Irie” spirit of the island, listen to some great reggae music, sip on Red Stripes and rum drinks and reel in the fish of your dreams!