With more than 700 islands, you could spend the rest of your life exploring the undersea offerings in the Bahamas. Few places offer this kind of diversity. You have everything from heart-stopping shark feeds and deep, lush wall dives, to marine life covered wrecks and oceanic blue holes. Each island has its signature experiences, and unique shark dives. New Providence, which is typically called Nassau after the main city on the island, is Hollywood H 2O. The waters off this island have hosted the cast and crew for movies like Thunderball and Into the Blue, as well as BBC documentary productions. You'll also find heaps of wrecks from planes to old tugboats, and are all circled by Caribbean reef sharks. Andros, which is the largest of the islands, has one of the world's top deep walls, mysterious and alluring oceanic blue holes, and lots of unexplored caves. Grand Bahama throws dolphins into the mix and some top shallow wrecks. And Long Island wrecks and shark are legendary. Above the water, the islands, despite such close proximity to the United States east coast, have retained a sleepy, laid back allure, with the exception of Nassau, which offers lots of interesting nightlife. You don't have to look too far to find a long, soft, white beach that you can have all to yourself.
The largest of the Bahamas 700 islands, and probably the least explored. Famous for its deep wall oceanic blue holes and inland blue holes.
Wrecks, sharks, shallow coral gardens and an open water dolphin experience bring divers from around the world.
It's worth coming just to dive the wreck of the Comberbach and the wild shark dive where the teethy gents nip at your fins on the way back to the boat. Plus, the world's deepest blue hole, prosaically named Ned's Blue Hole more than 120 meters/400 feet deep.
Eleuthera / Harbor Island
The famed Current Cut takes you on a wild ride accompanied by sharks, rays, turtles, and more. Colorful coral gardens, and noted for lots of marine life.
When to Go:
April through June generally has calm weather. Summer months provide good diving conditions, although June through October is also hurricane season in the Caribbean, with the highest risk around September.
Marine Life Seasons:
Many fish and lobster mate in spring, when schools of Mahimahi (dolphin fish) are abundant. In December and January you can find massive mating schools of Nassau grouper.
When to Get the Best Deals:
June to November
What to Pack:
During summer you'll probably only need a 3/2 mm wetsuit, but during winter bring a 5 mm as water temps will dip. Also, for summer casual, light clothing for hot temps, but in winter a light jacket is usually a good idea, especially between dives on a boat. Sunscreen and bug spray are essential year-round. DAN card.
Seasonal averages: 23-29°C/75-85°F
Seasonal averages: During summer, the average temperature is almost 27°C/82°F. In winter, the temperature can get as low as 15°C/60°F
The Bahamian dollar is exchanged equal with the U.S. dollar. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Passport required. Check with your local immigration website for visa requirements.
Each person leaving The Bahamas pays a $15.00 departure tax.
What to Eat:
Each island has its local favorite restaurants, but look for local fare such as conch chowder, Bahamian stew fish, Johnny Cake, which is pan-fried sweetened bread, Bahamian peas and rice, boiled fish and grits for breakfast, and for dessert, the guava duff is a local taste.
What to Drink:
Again, each island has its favorite bars and nightlife is generally lively. Drink gin and coconut water, called Sky Juice, with the locals or Bahama Mama's with the tourists. You'll find that most drinks include a variety of fruit juices and Kalik is the most well-known beer.
Local crafts, arts, ceramics and spices are available in the Straw Market. Look for local jewelry and handicraft items, such as Bahamian batik. Dance the night away to local soca or calypso bands. If you're on Andros, go straight to the source for Batik at Androsia.
Customs and Culture:
Locals are friendly and welcoming throughout the islands. The vibe is laid back.
Junkanoo festivals and parades are celebrated each Boxing Day, New Years’ Day and during the summer.
Electricity and Internet:
The electric current is 120 volts, 60 Hz. and internet is available in most hotels.
Drink the water?
Bottled water is recommended.
English is the official language.
Amazing Marine Life
Also known as rock lobsters, these crustaceans sport brown or orange shells, often colorfully dappled with yellow, blue, or green.
Several species of these frilly, brilliantly colored invertebrates roam these French Caribbean reefs.
Take a close look under ledges and around reef structures for nurse sharks.
Most often found in holes, caves, and wrecks, moray eels sometimes venture out so divers can see their entire snakelike length.
This small, spiny, fist-sized fish puffs up into a large round balloon-shape when threatened or surprised.
Prison striped, small tear-drop-shaped fish are eye-catching with their yellow backs and black-stripes, but never more so when a whole school shimmies by at once.
These triggerfish frequent the reefs off many Caribbean Islands.
These predatory pelagic fish are often seen on the reefs.
Golden yellow, schooling fish roam the reefs along with blue striped grunts and yellowtail snapper.
Hawksbill and green turtles can be found swimming in leisurely fashion or napping under ledges on most reefs.
Top Dive Spots
Shark Arena, New Providence:
Caribbean reef sharks are hand-fed at this famed site. The Bahama Mama wreck nearby adds interest to the underwater sightseeing once the feeding frenzy has subsided.
Theo's Wreck, Grand Bahama:
Among the many shipwrecks dotting the isles, this is one of the few that happened deliberately - a freighter sunk to create an artificial reef. The wreck teems with sea turtles, moray eels, eagle rays, and horse-eyed jacks, among other creatures of the deep.
Edge of the Ledge, Grand Bahama:
Featuring a steep drop-off at the continental shelf, stretching to the sandy seafloor below, Edge of the Ledge is one of the places where you might spot a hammerhead shark, as well as eagle and manta rays cruising in the deep.
Tuna Alley, Bimini:
Arresting formations of coral heads create a wall that slopes down to a depth of 30 meters/100 feet, and provide divers with numerous caverns, crevices, and swim-throughs to explore. Named for the schools of large pelagic tuna passing through, Tuna Alley also offers sights of loggerhead turtles and Caribbean reef sharks
Tongue of the Ocean, Andros:
The barrier reef off the coast of this island plunges almost 1800 meters/6000 feet in this poetically named area, and features a myriad of famous "Blue Holes," or underwater sinkholes which now present as clear, deep pools in the underwater landscape, populated by pelagic and deepwater species. The holes themselves connect to an intricate underwater cave system that can be explored by the experienced diver.
Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, Abacos:
Strict controls on fishing here ensure abundant marine life for divers to encounter. Green turtles, morays, porpoises, and sea horses, and corals are among the denizens of this underwater sanctuary. Undersea caves and historic shipwrecks add to the interest.
Current Cut, Eleuthera:
This experience may be billed as a drift dive, but involves more speed than the word "drift" typically implies. At the tide change, a swift river of seawater (running at about seven knots) moves through the narrow channel between Eleuthera and the neighboring island of Current, carrying divers and fish on a unique sightseeing joyride that lasts about ten minutes. Look for sharks, eagle rays, lobster, parrotfish, and large queen angels, and consider also visiting the many wrecks dotting the nearby Devil's Backbone.
Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, Exumas:
This natural preserve bears the distinction of being the first of its kind to be established. The protected nature of the park allows not only for a wide variety of fish, but also unusually large sizes, since these fish are allowed to grow undisturbed. Look for groupers, parrotfish, lobsters, conch, and an array of colorful reef fish, as well as coral formations, black coral caves, blue holes, and shipwrecks.
Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island:
This underwater sinkhole is the world's deepest, plunging over 180 meters/600 feet into the ocean floor. There is plenty to see in this underwater cavern within the recreational dive limit. Don't forget your dive light to spy on the cave's marine life.
Devil's Claw, San Salvador:
This reef boasts one of the vertical walls for which San Salvador is renowned, carved with three cuts in a claw shape that give it its name. Pelagic marine life including; sharks, eagle rays, and large groupers move among the elephant ear sponges, soft corals and hard coral formations.