Nassau - Lights, Camera, Dive Action!
Nassau: To the film industry, it's the Hollywood of the Bahamas. Here, some of the most-memorable underwater scenes have been filmed: from Walt Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and vintage James Bond films, such as Thunderball and Never Say Never Again, to more recent endeavors, such as Flipper and Into the Blue.
Divers will enjoy Nassau for the same reasons underwater filmmakers flock here. Think clear water, good weather, diverse underwater scenery and easy shore access. And then there are the "locals." Where do you think they got the sharks that harassed Jessica Alba? Certainly not from some studio backlot.
In fact, Nassau offers one of the richest assortments of dive sites in the Bahamas, ranging from expansive shallow reefs to walls, plus plenty of wrecks and critters. And as a bonus, there are also a few unique sites guaranteed to crank up the thrill meter.
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Take, for example, the Lost Ocean Blue Hole, located east of Nassau. Although not as lost or elusive as it once was thanks to modern GPS technology, the 80-foot-wide, circular mouth of this blue hole draws divers into purple twilight, with the bottom 195 feet below. While diving the edge of the hole's cavernous opening, it's common to see lionfish among the coral heads dotting the rim. Another of Nassau's underwater claims to fame is the almost guaranteed presence of sharks. Collectively, between the island's three primary sites - Shark Wall, Shark Arena and Shark Runway - divers should expect to see two dozen or more large Caribbean reef sharks on any given excursion. The one operator who seems to know these animals best is PADI Five-Star Gold Palm Instructional Development Center Stuart Cove's. Since 1977, Cove has provided his knowledge of sharks to films like For Your Eyes Only, Never Say Never Again and Into the Blue.
And if you do get your fill of sharks, choose from the ample opportunities to explore the collection of well-preserved wrecks. Most were put down just for the enjoyment of divers, and some have held supporting roles in various underwater productions. So even if you're not a Hollywood bigwig, when it comes to adventure beneath the waves, Nassau is guaranteed to provide plenty of bang for your buck.
From the day they opened in 1978, Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas (stuartcove.com) has been one of Nassau's most-popular full-service dive resorts. Since its humble beginnings with just one boat, the operation has grown to a fleet of seven dive vessels, five of which exceed 40 feet in length. From its operation base on the southwest side of New Providence Island, Nassau, Stuart Cove's offers a wide spectrum of diving activities from three-hour Learn to Dive Programs to adventure dives for experienced divers, including shark dives, wall flying (wall dives with scooters) above 6,000-foot drop-offs, to exploring 13 different wrecks. Stuart Cove's also offers Fin Photo, an on-site photography center staffed by shooting experts: rent a camera or simply solicit tips on how to nab better images. For more information on diving in the Bahamas, contact the Bahamas Diving Association (bahamasdiving.com).