The warm, crystal-clear waters that surround the islands of
the Bahamas are a huge undersea
playground for divers and snorkelers, with over 1,000 dive sites spread
across 700 islands. Many dive operations offer excursions to coral reefs
and shipwrecks, as well as other activities such as swimming with
Divers can even experience shark feeding just a few feet away,
by sitting on the ocean floor and watching a dive master wearing chain
mail or other protection feed several large sharks. The islands are
flanked by huge barrier reefs and vast undersea caves teeming with
colorful marine life, and each island has something unique to offer.
Providence – Hollywood
Beneath the Sea
For a true Hollywood
adventure, you can strap on your scuba gear and explore the wrecks
planted by film crews off the southwest corner of New
Providence. Walt Disney’s 20,000 Leagues under the
Sea was filmed here, as were the underwater scenes of several
James Bond films.
You can dive off the Southwest
Side Shark Wall, with its rich abundance of coral and
marine life, to visit the site of the downed Vulcan Bomber used in
the movie "Thunderball." This wreck was used again in
the Bond film "Never Say Never Again," in which Bond
eluded a Tiger Shark, because shark sightings are frequent here.
For visitors who don’t want to get wet, the Atlantis Submarine
can take you to the reefs off Lyford Cay
and alongside wrecks.
Abacos – Colorful Reefs and
The beautiful Abacos
islands, with their shallow waters and rich reefs full of colorful fish,
offer fantastic diving adventures. One of the best reefs for diving or
snorkeling in the Abacos is Fowl
Cay Reef in the Fowl Cay Bahamas
National Trust Preserve. Another popular spot, Sandy
Cay Reef, is part of the underwater wildlife sanctuary at Pelican
Cay Land and Sea Park. Fishing is strictly controlled in reef
areas, so marine life is abundant with plenty of green turtles, porpoises,
seahorses, and moray eels in and around harbors. If exploring wrecks is
your passion, you won’t want to miss the USS Adirondack, a Civil War
gunboat built in 1862 that struck a reef that same year. Two rusting
13-foot cannons and boilers remain, but shipworms have eaten most of the
wooden structures. It’s estimated that more than 500 Spanish galleons
sunk in the waters off the Abacos,
taking their treasures to the bottom of the sea with them, so your dive
might even prove profitable!
Andros – Legendary Blue
Andros Island is
home to the Andros Barrier Reef, the
third largest barrier reef in the world. This huge reef plunges
dramatically into the abyss known as the Tongue
of the Ocean, a partially enclosed basin more than a mile deep.
Andros is also famous worldwide for almost 200 "blue holes,"
deep fissures in the ocean floor formed by water erosion then flooded at
the end of the last ice age.
The oceanic holes connect to an intricate
inland underwater cave system with some of the world’s longest, deepest,
and most stunning caves. If you decide to explore a blue hole, do your
exploring carefully, because some of them are extremely deep! There are
many legends about the blue holes, such as the story of serpents known as Luska that are said to drag unsuspecting swimmers and fishermen to their
deaths. Several exciting wreck dive sites around Andros include the
Potomac, a steel-hulled barge that sank just after World War II and is now
home to grouper, parrotfish, and some impressive barracuda.
Grand Bahama – Dramatic
Some of the best diving facilities in the Bahamas
can be found on Grand Bahama Island.
The Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO)
offers eight levels of instruction, a dive pool and recompression chamber,
and several unique programs such as dolphin encounters and shark diving. Grand
Bahama has the world’s most extensive underwater cave system
containing dramatic formations of stalagmites and stalactites, but this
excursion is for advanced divers only and should never be attempted alone.
The waters around Grand Bahama,
treacherous for ships, are a paradise for divers who love exploring
wrecks. Treasure Reef was the cause of
many a ship’s demise, and treasure has actually been found here by lucky
divers. Theo’s Wreck is a freighter that was intentionally sunk for
divers off Lucaya to provide a safe
wreck for novice divers. The MS Comberbach, a 103-foot ship, lies only 100
feet deep and is not far from a 45-foot pleasure cruiser that sank
accidentally in a storm.
Eleuthera – A Wreck
The dive sites on Eleuthera
welcome both novice divers and experts to explore the Devil’s
Backbone, an 8-mile stretch of shallow, sharp reefs containing
four wreck sites in less than 40 feet of water. A 19th century
passenger steamship provides some grand adventuring, and one dive site is
actually the wreck of a train, where a barge sank with its cargo on its
way to Cuba.
A 300-year old shipwreck at Yankee
Channel lies in only 10 feet of water, and 4 miles south of Royal
Island is an old freighter sunk by fire while loaded with a
cargo of bat guano. Fish love the guano, and the wreck is home to enormous
beautiful fish such as 15-pound angelfish and 30-pound parrotfish. For
some thrilling diving, try riding the Current Cut
on the incoming tide, which shoots you between islands in just 10 minutes
at a speed of about 7 knots.
Exuma – Where Life Began
The Exuma Cays Land and Sea
Park is a 176-square mile area stretching between Wax
Cay and Conch Cut that
offers more delights for undersea explorers. Beautiful coral and limestone
reefs, blue holes, and shipwrecks provide an excellent setting for
observing marine wildlife. You can even visit the oldest evidence of life
on earth, the stromatolite reef on the eastern shore of Stocking
Island. This growing reef of layered limestone is a living
fossil. You also won’t want to miss the underwater valley at Ocean
Rock, the huge black coral caves called the Iron
Curtain, or Thunderball Grotto at
Staniel Cay, where part of the James Bond movie was filmed.
San Salvador – Exotic
The island that claims to have been the first stopping
place for Columbus can also lay claim to some of the best diving in the Bahamas.
There are over 80 dive sites on San Salvador
that include large reefs of elk and staghorn coral in less than 50 feet of
water, some of which are exposed at low tide. There are many wrecks to be
explored, and the wall to the south and west of the island is very
impressive, dropping to thousands of feet deep.
When diving in the Bahamas,
be sure to carry plenty of oxygen and a first aid kit. In the summer the
water temperature rises to about 84°F throughout the islands, but the
waters are cooler in the winter months. Remember that spear guns are
illegal, as are breaking off coral or harvesting starfish.
If you want to explore some of the best dive spots in
the world, the islands of the Bahamas
are the perfect destination. No matter how many times or how many places
you’ve dived before, you haven’t really dived until you’ve dived the
For more information on diving facilities, guides and
tours check our Diving Yellow Pages.