It's true what they say: You never forget your first time. My very first scuba dive in salt water (which was my first scuba dive in anything other than the 40-degree, peagreen depths of Lake Huron) was on an LST (Landing Ship, Tank) wreck sunk adjacent to a reef just north of Nassau. After the champagneeffect veil of bubbles had lifted, I was astounded; I could see so far that it seemed as if I was diving in air.
The water was an ethereal blue. And there was so much to see: crowds of fish, a lobster waving long antennae from a hole in the reef, coral in colors I had only imagined in dreams and yes, on my very first ocean dive a tiger shark. Literally minutes away from some East Coast cities, the islands of the Bahamas have served as an introduction to ocean diving for thousands of North American divers. Best of all, this destination's list of sites grows with your skills. Want walls? They've got 'em. Like your dive buddies with pointy dorsal fins and lots of sharp teeth? Shark diving was invented here. And if you're branching into things technical, the Bahamas are known for their blue holes in fact, Dean's Blue Hole, off Long Island, is the world's deepest.
DESTINATION PRIMERAverage Water Temp: 76-84ºF
What to Wear: Shorty in summer, 3-5 mm fullsuit in winter
Average Viz: 80-100 feet
When to Go: Year-round; September-May is a little cooler.