THE AMAZING WORLD OF BAHAMAS DIVING
With over 1,000 underwater sites, the Bahamas offers something for every diver's taste, from the Andros Barrier Reef and the famous blue holes to numerous wrecks and dramatic walls. Marine life is abundant, the waters are clear and warm most of the year, and the islands are the perfect place to kick back. Topside, there are just as many options: hang by the pool bar and swap critter sightings with fellow divers, spend a quiet night star-watching on a deserted beach or head to the casinos to test your luck. Here are some key things you ought to know when planning for a Bahamas diving expedition.
The islands of the Bahamas consist of more than 700 islands covering over 500 miles of clear blue water with
a total land area of approximately 5,382 square miles. Although the islands make up an archipelago containing the world's third largest reef system, only 14 of the islands are considered to be "main" islands — yet all 14 are a different mix of cultures, customs and history. Best of all, this tropical paradise is super easy to access from the US — Bimini, the closest of the islands, is just 40 miles off the coast of Miami!
History notes that it was Christopher Columbus himself who named the Bahamas in 1492 after the phrase "baja mar" meaning shallow water or sea. The majority of Bahamians are descendents of West African slaves brought to the islands to work the cotton plantations. The Bahamas are also populated by descendents of English settlers who came to the Bahamas in 1647 and Loyalists who fled the United States during the American Revolution. Today, tourism is the major economic resource for the Bahamas. For more on the history and culture of the Bahamas, click here.
The islands of the Bahamas are fortunate to have a temperate climate that's ideal for diving every month of the year. Here's a quick breakdown of Bahamas diving conditions:
Average Water Temp: 76 to 84ºF
What to Wear: Shorty in summer, 3-5 mm fullsuit in winter
Average Viz: 80-100 feet
When to Go: Year-round, but Caribean reef sharks aren't around in large numbers during June and July, their mating season.
From its myriad shallow reefs teeming with marine life to its massive cave systems, incredible blue holes,
wealth of wrecks and impressive walls, the Bahamas are truly a diver's paradise. Here's a small sample of the top dives sites.
* Alec's Cavern An incredible cavern dive on Andros Island featuring mature corals, cryptic sponges, squirrel fish and nurse sharks. Check out the face in the rock silhouetted against the blue light.
* Ray of Hope This 200-foot intact and upright wreck off New Providence comes complete with sharks, big groupers and holds full of silversides. Its interior is easy-access and offers entry to galleys, cabins and holds.
* UNEXSO Dolphin Dive For guaranteed dolphin encounters, this is the place to visit. UNEXSO's dolphin dive provides a sure thing for everyone who is looking for that special dolphin experience.
* James Bond Wrecks Thousands of silversides — along with yellow snapper, blue parrots and nurse sharks — populate these wrecks used to film Never Say Never Again and You Only Live Twice.
* Whip Wire Wall This multi-level wall dive is covered with thickets of wire and black corals. These corals are best seen at deeper depths where the riot of pastels are a treat for the eye.
MORE BAMAMAS DIVING RESOURCES: