The year after I did my first Padi scuba course I wanted some more, so I decided to go do the next course. The advanced open water course. Again on Jamaica, but now on the other side of the beautiful island, on the cliffs of Negril.
The year before I had seen so many beautiful things on and around the island that I decided to go back to see some more. Again I did some organised trips and some on my own. And the new Padi course.
The diving in Negril wasn’t as beautiful as in Ocho Rios, but it has many more different dive sites. Some along the cliffs coast and many more along the Nine Mile beach, which is not 9 but almost 7 miles long. Why they call it 9 Mile beach, nobody seems to know.
I had booked a very nice little Hotel called Samsara for 10 days. The diving school Marine Life Divers was on the property at that time, so that was an ideal combination for me. I’m a bit lazy, so I don’t want to walk too far for a diving school or site. Armin was my instructor. Again a very friendly Jamaican who was a great teacher and a very laid back diver. Exactly as I like to dive. I don’t want to be in a hurry and especially not when I’m diving. The slower you dive the more you see. He helped me very well with the theory lessens and had great patience with the practical parts of the course.
I had a great time and decided to book some more fun dives with them the following days.
Whether you’re looking for new dive adventures or simply want to improve your scuba skills and gain more confidence, taking the PADI Advanced Open Water course is your next step.
As a certified scuba diver you’ve already experienced the thrill of exploring parts of the underwater world, but know there’s more to discover.
Building on skills you mastered during the PADI Open Water course and introducing a whole range of new skills, a PADI Master Instructors will guide you on 5 amazing adventure dives, each dive an introduction to one of the many specialized adventures we can enjoy as scuba divers.
This includes two mandatory dives, the Deep Dive and the Underwater Navigation Dive.
The schedule for the PADI Advanced Open Water course is flexible, and personalised depending on the elective dives you choose. PADI standards stipulate we can conduct 3 Adventure training dives in any one day.
A typical schedule looks like this
Day 1 – Orientation, Knowledge Development, PADI Adventure Dives
Your PADI Instructor will conduct a short Orientation including completing some paperwork and a PADI Medical Statement. This is the time we will discuss and choose the three elective dives you wish to make.
Unlike the PADI Open Water course there is no exam. Instead each Adventure dive has a knowledge review. You will use the manual to complete the knowledge review before reviewing this with your Instructor. With some Adventure dives there are also some land rehearsals prior to boarding the dive boat.
After lunch you will complete the Underwater Navigation dive which is mandatory. You will also complete a second Adventure such as PPB, Fish ID, Search & Recovery or Underwater Naturalist. The Night Dive is the most popular elective dive in the Adventures in Diving Program. Night diving is an amazing experience. You will see some species of marine life you have seen during the day light hours actually sleeping. Other species such as hermit crabs and nocturnal stingrays are out foraging in the sand for food, Cuttle fish glow in your torch light and moving your arm slowly will reveal fluorescent phosphorescent plankton glowing in the darkness. You will sometimes see Barracuda or other predator fish hunting for small fish and if you’re lucky you may even see them catch their prey in the light of your torch.
Day 2 – PADI Advanced Course – Adventure Dives and Certification
Up bright and early for the highlight of the PADI Advanced Open Water course, the PADI Deep Adventure Dive and the first opportunity for you to experience Nitrogen Narcosis! You will descend to a maximum depth of 30 metres and the Instructor will demonstrate the effects of pressure and how it affects us at depth. You will also get to see a greater diversity of marine life than at some of the shallower dive sites.
You will then complete a second Adventure dive. This is your final elective dive and amongst the more popular choices of dives are; Wreck, DPV and Night diving.
Each Adventure Dive may credit toward the first dive of the corresponding PADI Specialty Diver Course. If you’ve already taken a specialty diver course, ask your instructor if you’ve earned credit for an Adventure Dive.
Dive site: Negril
Type of dive: Cliffs, beach, riffs, small wrecks
Maximum depth: 35 m
Level: beginner to advanced in case of current
Water temperature: 27 – 29° C
When to go: You can dive here year-round, but the best time is from December to April, with top conditions in February and March. In May, June, September and November there’s some more rain than average , so the visibility can be a little less than perfect.
Dive Sites in and around Negril
The Throne Room
The entrance is a fairly wide but low cavern, with a crack in the reef about 25ft. long and 8 ft. wide. When using the entrance you need to be really careful not to damage the coral around the opening. The walls on the inside are covered with colorful sponges. The bottom is covered with fine sediments which when disturbed will immediately reduce the visibility. Leaving the throne room, you swim through a large opening forming a window of sorts; coming into the deeper reef at 70 ft. this window provides great photo opportunities. Avg. Depth: ~40-70 ft. (12-21 m) Skill Level: Novice Max Dive Depth: 70 ft. Distance From Shore: ~10 mins
This site is named for the two caverns, one small and one slightly larger, with a narrow tunnel connecting the two. You can find a variety of sponges here along with soft gorgonians. On the sand flat you will see the usual occupants: furry sea cucumbers, stingrays, jacks and some lane snappers. Avg. Depth: ~40-70 ft. (12-21 m) Skill Level: Intermediate Max Dive Depth: 70 ft. Distance From Shore: ~10 mins
Among the elephant ear sponges and yellow tube sponges, you may find Spanish hogfish, smooth and bandtail puffers, and of course the ever-present damselfish. Golden crinoids are tucked in between star and brain coral, and in the surrounding sandy area sand tilefish hover near their burrows. Kingfish, the Jamaican name for ceros, can be seen passing by. These silvery fish are generally solitary and are seen on reefs and drop-offs near deep water. Avg. Depth: ~80-90 ft. (24-27 m) Skill Level: Advanced Max Dive Depth: 90 ft. Distance From Shore: ~20 mins
Middle Shoal Reef
One of the most frequently visited 30′ scuba dive sites. Used mainly for our PADI introductory (Resort) Scuba Course dive #1. Nice coral reef to 30′ sand bed. Very large aggregation of French grunts at cleaning stations on coral heads. Squirrel fish aggregations at other cleaning sites. Turtles often seen on the edge of a sand bed. Many blue chromis, creole wrans, parrots, etc. Avg. Depth: ~30 ft. (9 m) Skill Level: Novice Max Dive Depth: 60 ft. Distance From Shore: ~20 mins
Interesting overhangs and ledges. Coral reef with lots of places to explore. Large crabs, turtles, nurse sharks, sting rays, morays, black coral and the occasional Sea Horse are often seen here. Avg. Depth: ~30 ft. (9 m) Skill Level: Novice Max Dive Depth: 70 ft. Distance From Shore: ~10 mins
Most diving schools often combine the shallow plane with this 33′ dive. There are many overhangs and ledges. Nurse sharks and very large sting rays are common. Swim through the arches and notice the purple and yellow fairy bassets. They align themselves to the substratum and are upside down on the ceilings of the arches and caverns. Resort divers stay at the reef around 30ft. 45ft distance to sand bottom. Avg. Depth: ~33 ft. (10-11 m) Skill Level: Novice Max Dive Depth: 45 ft. Distance From Shore: ~15 mins
Booby Cay Island
The island has been almost surrounded with mooring buoys installed by the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society with the help of Reef Relief from Florida, Sandals Negril and many more. Weather dictates which side of the island to use. The North West side has some healthy Elk Horn Coral near the surface and a lot of very large Bloody Bay coral heads. Avg. Depth: ~30 ft. (9 m) Skill Level: Novice Max Dive Depth: 40 ft. Distance From Shore: ~15 mins
Wreck dive of a Cessna 152 Airplane resting next to a beautifully overhanging reef. Look for Queen Angelfish, Spotted Drum Fish, and the occasional dolphin at this site. This dive is an extension of Arches reef dive. Avg. Depth: ~40 ft. (12 m) Skill Level: Novice Max Dive Depth: 60 ft. Distance From Shore: ~15 mins
The reef has a medium profile and is made up of individual coral heads, soft gorgonians, and purple sea fans. French Grunt, Goatfish and Squirrelfish gather at the base of barrel sponges and yellow and brown tube sponges. Black surgeon and yellow and brown chromis can be seen. Many more cluster of brown tube sponges grow on the wall, which is deeply undercut in many places. These overhang are overgrown with black coral, wire and whip coral and a multitude of sponges. You may discover a spotted drum, or a very shy queen angelfish against the wall. Fairy basslets hang upside down from the ceiling and the encrusting sponges add splashes of color. Avg. Depth: ~30 ft. (9 m) Skill Level: Novice Max Dive Depth: 70 ft. Distance From Shore: ~20 mins
There’s a few caverns perfect for hiding of nurse sharks and turtles colorful sponges lots of black durgeon, French grunt Maroon spotted fish and schools of blue chromis, and that’s what makes this reef so surprisingly cool. Avg. Depth: ~30 ft. (9 m) Skill Level: Novice Max Dive Depth: 70 ft. Distance From Shore: ~15 mins
This site is perfect for training. Majority of the reef is flat, and consist patches of sand and colorful sponges, corals, goatfish and snapper. At times the current is very strong. Avg. Depth: ~30 ft. (9 m) Skill Level: Novice Max Dive Depth: 30 ft. Distance From Shore: ~10 mins
Follow the coral reef and overhangs down to a sandy bottom sloping seaward at 75′. Nurse sharks and large sting rays are seen here often. Note: This dive site is not commonly used. Avg. Depth: ~60 ft. (18 m) Skill Level: Advanced Max Dive Depth: 80 ft. Distance From Shore: ~20 mins
A dive located directly offshore from Orange River – many ledges. A cave very similar to the Throne Room, known for nurse sharks and the odd hammerhead. Morays, groupers, etc. This site is seldom used. Avg. Depth: ~60 ft. (18 m) Skill Level: Advanced Max Dive Depth: 70 ft. Distance From Shore: ~15 mins
This wreck was sunk in 1993 to provide the sealife with an artificial reef. Settled on a sandy patch, the reef in this area is worth checking out as well. Look for Barracuda, Scrawled File Fish, and the occasional Eagle Ray passing through the area. Swim in through the boat and out into beautiful coral. The tug boat is 55ft in length. Avg. Depth: ~70 ft. (21 m) Skill Level: Advanced Max Dive Depth: 90 ft. Distance From Shore: ~20 mins
This is where most Divemasters love to hang. Small plane sunk to provide reef. Frequented by turtles, Barracuda, Spade Fish, and the territorial Ocean Trigger Fish. Drift along the outer edge before the Caribbean drops off to the deep. Avg. Depth: ~80-90 ft. (24-27 m) Skill Level: Advanced Max Dive Depth: 90 ft. Distance From Shore: ~20 mins
This is a great diving site where you can see many different fascinating things. From the numerous brown and black corals to the huge sponges that occupy the reef. Here, there are multiple overhanging ledges which may or may not conceal some of the reef’s beautiful creatures and this will allow for an exciting diving experience.
Avg. Depth: ~60-70 ft. (18-21 m)
Skill Level: Advanced
Max Dive Depth: 70 ft.
Distance From Shore: ~20 mins
Middle Shoal Reef
There is a small single engine plane located at this site at a depth of 90′. This dive is known for spade fish and barracuda. Beautiful coral, barrel, sponge, gorgonians, etc. Farther out, there is drop-off up to 200′.
Avg. Depth: ~80-90 ft. (24-27 m)
Skill Level: Advanced
Max Dive Depth: 90 ft.
Distance From Shore: ~20 mins