Deserted stretches of idyllic beach are just one of the things you can expect from a Bahamas scuba diving vacation.
With more than 700 islands — only 30 of which have rooms to rent — there’s a pace to match just about every vacation style in the Bahamas. The two busiest isles, Grand Bahama and New Providence — more commonly called “Nassau” for its capital city — have grown to include highrise hotels with water slides and casinos. Head to the Out Islands, also called the Family Islands, for a much slower pace and a quieter soundtrack.
For the Shark Diver
Just about every island in the Bahamas offers a version of this must-do experience. Caribbean reef sharks gather here in droves year-round; numbers are lowest in early June when they mate. You’ll find tiger sharks also yearround at Grand Bahama’s Tiger Beach. For a heartpounding encounter, oceanic whitetips show up in April and May off Cat Island. Hammerheads are regulars off North Bimini from J anuary through March.
For the Wreck Diver
More than 40 wrecks lie in Bahamian waters — some, such as the 270-foot-long SS Sapona off Bimini, pop from the surface, making for a well-lit structure suitable for snorkeling and diving. Others are deeper, such as Theo’s Wreck off Grand Bahama — covered in coral growth it is swarmed by sharks, turtles and fish. The Ray of Hope, perched on the edge of the Nassau reef wall, is an ideal spot for shark and goliath grouper encounters.
For the High Roller
The casino at Atlantis Paradise Island on Nassau is the Caribbean’s largest — offering 80 table games including blackjack, roulette and craps, 750 slot machines and more. Check the online schedule, as the casino regularly hosts tournaments. Also on Nassau, the Crystal Palace Casino at the Wyndham is home to table games, as well as nearly 300 slot machines.
For the Beach Lover
It’s perhaps bad news only for those who like jogging by the sea : The Bahamas are home to some of the whitest beaches with sand as soft and giving as down feathers. The Exumas are perhaps the most famous thanks to sandbars and other idyllic getaways that appear only during high tide. On Grand Bahama, Smith’s Point on Taino Beach is the place to be on Wednesday nights for the legendary fish fry, serving up just-caught seafood and live music; head over early to enjoy volleyball on the beach and a dip.
For the Sea Dog
Though perhaps not as easy to rent a boat as in other Caribbean destinations, the Bahamas is an still an ideal spot to rent a powerboat or yacht for the day, or join a day-sail adventure. A few resorts even offer packages that include the use of a skiff. Those looking to keep it simple can try stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, Hobie cats and the like — most resorts ply their beaches with such toys to encourage guests to play on the water.
Divemaster's Day Off
"On the weekends, we go to Compass Point to play cards. It’s really chill and great for sunsets. Linger as long as you like — the staff doesn’t hover." — Kathy Vanhoeck, instructor on island four years