Bahamas are a diver's dream come true. New Providence and Grand Bahama have earned
their reputations as A-list dive destinations but they are only the beginning.
The island chain is made up of hundreds of islands and only 30 support human populations.
makes for plenty of secluded spots on the Out
Islands where divers can count on freedom to wander with the fish without
crowds of tourists getting in the way.
also means a wide range of diving sites...from sheer walls and Blue Holes to reefs
and wrecks or gentle places for the novice diver.
in the Bahamas can expect a thrill. The Caribbbean waters are home to dozens of
species of coral, dolphins, Hawksbill turtles, seahorses, schools of other colorful
fish as well as Silky, Black Tip and Caribbean Reef Sharks.
clear waters bring an extra bonus. Average visibility is about 80 to 100 feet
( 25 to 30 meters ), but divers report being able to see as far as 200 feet -
Caves and Blue Holes
National Park on Grand Bahama Island offers cave certified divers the chance
to explore one of the the world's longest connected underwater cave and cavern
systems. The islands
offer the phenomenon known as Blue
Holes. These caves and caverns are filled with striking blue waters and hold secrets from ages past in their depths.
Unlike Belize, Egypt and other sites where these diving gems exist, Blue Hole diving in the Bahamas is strictly controlled to protect the environment. Small Hope Bay Lodge on Andros Island is one of the operators that offers guided Blue Hole specialty dives for one or two divers at a time.
As unwise as the idea might sound, shark feeding is a popular activity for divers
in the Bahamas. It is banned in many other places, but is a thriving business for island based diving operators. There
have been "accidents"
where divers have been bitten, but those
who enjoy it say that the adrenaline rush is worth the risk. Diving with sharks isn't for the faint hearted, but then... neither is diving.
Off the south coast of Grand Bahama, the Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO) and Xanadu Undersea Adventures have set feedings at Shark Alley or Shark Junction. Most of the sharks that you'll see will be females. Runway and Runway Wall are where the bulls hang out.
Shark Buoy is about an hours boat ride from New Providence. The isolated buoy is attched by a chain that attracts small fish. The open water dwelling silky sharks that wander in to check out dinner-on-the-chain make interesting companions on a dive.
The most famous, Walker's Cay Shark Rodeo, has been featured on Discovery Channel and featured in diving magazines. The "chumsicle" a large frozen block of chum or shark bait used to feed the sharks makes for great action shots and a bit less close interaction.
Swimming with Dolphins
Diving with dolphins is another special experience that you can take part in during your trip to the Bahamas.
Underwater Explorers Society, UNEXSO, offers three different experiences for divers who are interested in personal encounters with these intelligent mammals. These are not exactly wild dolphins. They are
"residents" at UNEXSO and are used to swimming with people.
Reefs and Wrecks
Bahamas boast the one of the longest barrier reef systems in the world. If the coral reefs and the Blue Holes are not enough, the infamous pirates of the Caribbean and the difficult navigation in the shallow waters have provided a special bonus.
You'll find a bounty of wrecks that the fish enjoy ... and divers are welcome to join in and explore.
Summer temperatures average between 80 and 85 degrees ( 26 to 29 C ) and the water is
warm the peak in the summer is normally in the high 80s ( 29 to 31 C). During the colder months,
December to May, temperatures average 60 to 75 degrees ( 15 to 24 C) and the water temperature can drop in to the 70s (low 20s C).
What To Do Besides Diving
This is a great place to vacation if you have family members who aren't divers. The warm weather invites lounging on the soft powder white sandy beaches in the Caribbean sun. Swimming and sunbathing can be supplemented by plenty of shopping
for souveniers or low priced luxury items. The night life rings with Caribbean music and good food. Take your pick of local specialties conch chowder, steamed fish, Bahamian crawfish and 'peas n' rice' or sample fine dining at some of the top restaurants. Italian, Chinese, Caribbean spices or Irish Pub grub are just some of the choices.
With the warm, colorful waters to lure them in, you may find even the people in your group who have never enjoyed diving will be converted to underwater sports before the end of your vacation in the Bahamas. There are plenty of places that teach
beginners and provide certification. The waters off the Bahama shore provide enough easy dives for beginners and they may soon be asking to join you on your deeper dives.