Long Island - Out Island Spice of Life
So far I've made it about 20 of the 110 feet of length that comprise the wreck of the Comberbach. I've been on the bottom at 100 feet now for about 15 minutes and think to myself, If I have any chance of seeing what else is on this lush wreck, I better start swimming now. The problem has been that it's just too overwhelming. I get distracted easily and dive slowly - excruciatingly so if you were to ask some of my buddies. This wreck is covered in movement, texture and color that make me want to stop. There's also a nearby sailboat to explore, but I know that at my pace, I will never reach it. So, I make my way down the port side of the upright wreck to the screw. It's been removed, but the rudder is covered in encrusting sponges, green algae and soft corals. There's so much color and texture that it looks like the leftovers from a barroom fight between a painter and sculptor. I'm out of bottom time, so I ascend to the deck at about 75 feet. A green moray peeks up from a crack in a bulkhead to greet me. Arrow crabs, big ones, hide in the shadows. And parrotfish and wrasse add movement to the colorful world of this wreck.
Then, just as I was getting to know the wreck, it was time to ascend. It was like this for all my dives. At Shark Reef - probably the most raw and wild of all the shark dives in the Bahamas, where they toss in a bucket of scraps and the sea explodes with a true frenzy - I wanted to stay in the water and do it again. At Conception Island Wall, I made it about 50 fascinating feet, exploring among the massive coral heads, before it was time to come up. Truly, I'd just like to stay at this site for about a month straight. It was like I was being teased mercilessly. Here's one great dive. Time to come up. Here's another. Running out of air, time to come up. Dang you. And, they're all wrapped in viz so clear you feel dizzy. Then there was Dean's Blue Hole, which is the world's deepest at 660 feet, and probably the loveliest, too. Here, you feel like you're hovering over a shaft that leads to the blue center of the Earth. If you hang quietly in the water, I'm sure you could feel the pulse of the Earth.
Above the water, time stands still on Long Island. Doing nothing feels like an activity. I usually take a bike, get lost and just tell myself I'm exploring. The island is only about one-mile wide, so my sense of direction must be pretty slim. Beaches and blue water wrap around both coasts along the entire 60-mile length, and mostly, they're all yours. But what you will remember most as you explore Long Island is that everywhere you go, you're genuinely and warmly welcomed. And in today's world, that's worth traveling any distance to experience.
Stella Maris Resort (stellamarisresort.com) started the whole shark-diving trend in the Bahamas and is Long Island's premier gateway to the diverse undersea experience of this quiet Out Island. You'll find modest rooms at the all-inclusive resort and three dive boats for short or long trips. You can dive with sharks and on wrecks and reefs as well as in blue holes. For more information on diving in the Bahamas Islands, contact the Bahamas Diving Association (bahamasdiving.com).