One of the many activities available to the Negril Beach visitor is a glass bottom boat ride.
With these craft you can cruise the length of the beach looking at the offshore coral, and the thousands of tropical fish that inhabit the sea bed.
If you are adventurous or skilled, most of the glass bottom boats have snorkeling gear available to the guest as part of the process. They will anchor and allow guests to snorkel around the boat over the coral.
Not Big Boats
As the photo below shows, these are not large watercraft, and are not the first choice to go out to sea in if mother nature decides to boil the waters of Negril Beach with a windstorm.
I recall one day there was a bit of a blow. The air temperature was still plenty warm, as was the ocean, and we frolicked in the water as the surf thundered ashore. The waves were large enough that as they passed one glass bottom boat moored a hundred yards off shore, the boat would disappear into the wave trough, then reappear again as the wave passed, only to drop out of sight again with the following wave. No one was enjoying a glass bottom boat ride that day.
Where the glass bottom boat ride goes
Some offer sunset cruises as well, and you can enjoy spectacular sunsets along with the gorgeous display unfolding under water beneath the boat.
At the south end of Negril Beach is Negril Village. As the glass bottom boat circumnavigates the village, the shore turns from incredible beach to equally beautiful volcanic cliffs. The glass bottom boat will take you on a turn along the cliff face if you so desire, or even into some of the caves on the cliff face if the tide permits.
You can also hire a glass bottom boat to take you from any of the resorts, lodgings, guest houses and homes that face Negril Beach to Rick’s American Restaurant. That ride can be taken during the day or at evening. You can arrange for your boat to tie up to the dock at Rick’s and then take you away and back to your hotel when your meal is done.
How to book a glass bottom boat ride on Negril Beach
As you walk up and down Negril Beach, there seems to be a glass bottom boat anchored offshore, or beached, every hundred yards or so. Most have a keeper nearby, and these folks will ask, as you meander by, if you would be interested in a ride.
Pick the boat that suits you, weather it is the one most convenient or you just like the look, stand on the shore near it, and almost always someone will approach to ask if you want a ride.
Also, the all-inclusive resorts will likely have arrangements with local glass bottom boat owners, and you should be able to book through your hotel if they do.
How much is a ride
Like almost everything that’s available to buy in Negril, the price depends. It depends on how many they have sold that day, if the sun is shining or not, do they like your face, how many in your party, how close they are to leaving, does the hotel take a cut, and so on.
Depending on these factors then, you can expect to negotiate a fare of about $15 – $30 U.S. per person, and this, ultimately, will also depend on where you want to go,
and how long will you spend on the glass bottom boat cruise. It seems that all of these things are negotiable.
Be a cautious negotiator
Be a bit cautious when negotiating, and make sure that your boat captain clearly understands where you want to go, and for how long you want the cruise. They’ll all nod and smile as you tell them what you want, ultimately give you a price, and then some will do whatever they want to do both in direction and time, and some may not.
Make yourself clear as you describe what it is you want, and make sure they are clear by asking the captain to confirm what it is you want.
Otherwise, you might not be happy with the ride, not get what you expect, or generally get less than what you wished.
Likely a pittance in income
I don’t know if the glass bottom boat drivers are part of a larger organization or not. I suspect they may be. If so, you can be sure that their wage is a pittance, and the cost of living in this Caribbean paradise is quite high. If you can afford it, be generous in tipping, particularly the boat’s mate, if you enjoy your boat ride.
Peculiarities in a glass bottom boat ride
Not long after our friends launched on their shore-line, glass bottom boat tour, their boat operator asked if they minded if he smoked.
Neither of them smoke, and generally being in the presence of a smoker would be a problem for the, but since the boats are fully open, they were amenable and told the mate to go ahead.
And, a bit shocked, when the smoke he lit up was a newly rolled ganja joint.
Relax. That’s the way it is in Jamaica. Go with the flow, enjoy the ride, since you aren’t usually very far from shore anyway.
If you wish, the captain will stop the boat and allow you to visit another attraction or feature that you see as you bob along Negril Beach in your own gaily coloured glass bottom boat.
Comments about your experience on your Negril Beach glass bottom boat ride are welcome.