Go big or go home” could be the slogan for these white-sand isles. Divers have long associated the Bahamas with the stuff of wide-angle dreams — sharks, dolphins and wrecks galore — and they are spot-on. Sure, a macro devotee will find enough nudibranchs, cleaner shrimp and other tiny critters to fill several memory cards, but the small stuff isn’t why most divers find it better in the Bahamas.
Did we mention the trench? The Tongue of the Ocean — a Christmas-stocking-shape drop to the abyss, roughly 6,000 feet deep — lies just east of Andros Island. Much of the underwater terrain in the Bahamas is similarly dramatic when it comes to drop-offs, so expect serious wall diving and unlimited shark encounters.
A bonus: Several shark-feeding sites and purpose-sunk wrecks lie mere fin kicks from the edge of a couple of walls, giving divers a two-for-one experience. Indecisive divers rejoice: No more choosing between attractions.
The energy level varies among the 23 inhabited islands in the Bahamas. To choose, picture yourself at happy hour: Do you see a crowd on shop-lined streets, hear slot machines or feel the rhythm of rake ’n’ scrape music? If so, opt for one of the two main islands: Grand Bahama or New Providence. If you imagine a sunset and hear a rushing breeze, go out — as in to the Out Islands, where life moves at a slower, gentler pace.
You’ve been diving with predators, but have you sped down a water slide through a shark tank? It’s pricey for nonguests — a day pass costs $120 — to experience Atlantis, Paradise Island, but worth it. “I dive with sharks all the time and I still get a healthy adrenaline rush,” says underwater videographer Duncan Brake. “My friends, all 30-somethings, quickly rediscovered their inner teenage boys. We ran up the steps for more.”