...Highlights: tiger sharks, hammerheads, shark action, dolphins, turtles, great macro life/marine diversity, schooling fish & big pelagics...
...Bahamas' diving environment: wrecks, wall diving, healthy reefs, beginner and advanced divers, very popular...
The Bahamas are the ideal Caribbean diving destination that merge international elegance with a relaxed tropical vacation vibe. Conveniently positioned 56 miles (90 km) off the coast of Florida, the 2,500 cays and 700 islands (of which 30 are uninhabited) form the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. These island jewels in aquamarine and sapphire waters create the topography for many spectacular sites. Reefs, walls and sandy bottoms all teeming with life will be your playground during your liveaboard cruise.
Liveaboard tours, most frequently to The Exumas, Nassau and Grand Bahama are the perfect way to explore the many dive sites in comfort and style. Nassau is not only easy to get to with direct flights but is also the most popular Bahamas dive location featuring spectacular walls, vibrant reefs, exciting shark dives and a gorgeous blue hole. There are also many wrecks that have featured in a variety of Hollywood movies. The main Exumas sites are located in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Their motto ‘Take only photographs, leave only footprints’ highlights efforts to protect their precious natural resources for all to enjoy it. The area is managed by the Bahamas National Trust and falls under its protection, enabling the marine life to flourish and divers to safely explore the pristine reefs.
The blue, jewel-tone Caribbean seas are filled with life. Many divers come to the Bahamas for encounters with sharks in large numbers, including at the legendary Tiger Beach of Grand Bahama. During your liveaboard diving trip you will encounter many species of turtles year round. Other highlights include eagle rays, seahorses and sightings of pods of wild dolphins. These are most likely at Grand Bahama which also boats wrecks, caverns and caves adding to the diversity of underwater adventures it offers. You can even come face to face with great hammerhead sharks and bull sharks in Bimini!
All divers' wishes are met in the Bahamas: spectacular walls, the intact wrecks of Eleuthera, coral encrusted reefs, pinnacles and blue holes including the free-diving mecca of Dean's Blue Hole in Long Island. Belize might have the most famous one, but the Bahamas has a huge number of blue holes that are equally as good!
Further details on each of the best destinations for diving Bahamas:
The Abaco Islands are located in the north of the Bahamas, just to the east of Grand Bahama. Directly to the east lies the Atlantic Ocean and cooler water but the islands are protected by a large barrier reef system. There is an extensive network of marine reserves, such as Fowl Cay, Sandy Cay, and Pelican Cay, where you can see a diverse range of marine creatures in healthy ecosystems that are not so common elsewhere. Star and elkhorn corals are in abundance. The tidal currents have etched out a complex of tunnels and caves to explore. The surrounding seas are quite shallow and most of the dive sites are no deeper than 60 ft / 18m, making them ideal for beginners. However, Walker Cay has deeper walls and one of the best shark dives in the Bahamas - Shark Rodeo - where up to 100 blacktip and Caribbean reef sharks gather in a feeding frenzy. Turtles, rays, blacktip reef sharks, and tarpon and commonly seen at Abaco. There is also an old US Civil War gunboat that sank in the 1860s in 30 ft / 9m of water near Man-o-War Cay. Its canons are particularly well preserved.
Located 30 miles (50 km) west of Nassau (New Providence), Andros is the largest island in the Bahamas and the 5th largest in the Caribbean, and is mostly covered in forest and mangroves. They are separated by the Tongue of the Ocean – a 20 mile (30 km) wide deep water trench that runs north-south for 150 miles (240 km).the northern end is 6,600 ft (2 km) deep and exposed to the open ocean. Along the western rim of the trench runs the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world, and these features combine to make some of the most spectacular diving in Bahamas. There are an inexhaustible number of places where you can drop in and peer over the wall in to the abyss looking for sharks, eagle rays, grunts and schools of snapper, or explore the healthy reef system where coral formations grow to towering heights and create mazes of swim-throughs and caverns. Turtles, octopus, groupers, sting rays, goatfish, wrasses and parrotfish are common here.
Andros also has a huge concentration of blue holes in the Blue Hole National Park, such Stargate, Crate, El Dorado, Benjamin’s – limestone caverns found in the ocean and also, uniquely, freshwater tidal blue holes. The mix of fresh and salt water creates a highly diverse marine environment. The entrance areas are suitable for inexperienced scuba divers, but the depths should only be explored by advanced or technical divers.
The Berries are a chain of 30 small cays, 35 miles (55 km) north of Nassau. Apart from spotting millionaires relaxing on their private islands, the Berry Islands are worth a visit for scuba diving. Strong conservation programs have led to the islands being one of the most biologically diverse regions of the Bahamas; this is said to be the game fish capital, with plenty of marlin in the waters, as well as pilot whales. There are plenty of shallow reefs close to shore, but steep drop offs lend quick access to the depths where you can find plenty of caverns and walls. The Berry Islands are also one of the best locations to witness the important grouper spawning in late January/early February, when shoals of up to 30,000 strong gather together.
This tiny island group offers some of the most spectacular diving in the country, if sharks are on your bucket list. The Biminis location on the very edge of the Gulf Stream makes it an ideal hunting ground and nursery site for some of the ocean’s largest predators. such as tiger, blacktip and blacknose sharks, as well as blue marlin, wahoo, swordfish and bluefin tuna. But perhaps the greatest attraction are the frequent encounters with great hammerhead sharks – almost unheard of anywhere else in the world. Almost as impressive is the baited dive at Bull Run, where can come face-to-face with notorious bull sharks.
The rich and clear waters also offer a great range of options, such as coral reefs, walls, caverns and blue holes, and some of the Bahamas popular wreck dive sites such as The Sapona and Bimini Barge. Here you can find plenty of turtles, stingrays, groupers, and dolphins; all at home among the vibrant marine world of Bimini.
Located in the central Bahamas, southeast of Eleuthera, Cat Island is best known for its encounters with oceanic whitetip sharks that visit each spring as they follow the tuna migration (best time April and May). It is one of the best places in the world for scuba divers to get up close with these incredible pelagic sharks and the clear waters here are ideal for underwater photography. Usually solitary, the oceanic whitetips congregate in large numbers offshore. They show no fear and are often very inquisitive, approaching and spooking nervy divers in shallow water. Cat Island boats the highest point in the Bahamas - Mount Alvernia - at 206 ft / 60m. The hill is topped by a monastery; let's hope you don't have to pay it an early visit after your shark encounters here!
This remote Bahamian island group has plenty to offer adventurous divers, not least its incredible harmonic natural beauty. Off the beaten track, this undeveloped corner of the country has quaint coastal settlements, charming pink beaches, and ancient coral cays. Underwater there is plenty to excite the avid diver. There are more sunken wrecks here in the North of Eleuthera than anywhere else in the country – 45 different sites have been catalogued. Then there are the natural wonders born of its geological limestone history – caverns, swim-throughs, tidal holes, rugged deep walls. There is an unusual abandoned research cage to dive at Cape Eleuthera, and finally there is the adrenaline rush of a tidal channel where divers hurtle along over a kilometer of coastline in around 10 minutes.
The archipelago of more than 350 small cays is famed for its breathtaking natural beauty and marine species biodiversity. Much of the area lies within the The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a highly successful marine reserve that has protected the coral reefs and walls, the mangroves and seagrass eco-systems. The island chain is flanked by 2 bodies of water – the shallow Exuma Bank and the deep water Exuma Sound – which add to the diversity of the region. Here you will find turtles, eagle and sting rays, reef sharks and hammerheads. There are also several blue holes to explore, and a couple of wrecks to add in to the mix.
Another feature of the Exumas is the range of exciting non-diving attractions that are available to liveaboard guests here. You can visit the world famous swimming pigs at Big Major City, snorkel and swim in hidden caves and grottos or with nurse sharks. Hiking, kayaking, beachcombing…it's a real hidden gem of a scuba destination.
Bordering the edge of the Gulf Stream in the northwest of the nation, Grand Bahama, together with nearby Bimini, is the shark capital of the Bahamas. In particular Tiger Beach (see below), just 25 miles (40 km) offshore, is renowned for its awesome interactions with tiger sharks. Stunning visibility, shallow water and large numbers of these amazing creatures conspire to give divers heart-thumping encounters with these huge predators. Lucky scuba divers could also see great hammerheads and bull sharks, and as well as plenty of other shark action.
But Grand Bahama is not just about sharks. It also has earned itself a reputation as one the best places to dive and swim with friendly wild dolphins. Then there are a handful of intriguing wrecks to explore, coral gardens with plentiful marine life, and a network of caverns and caves. Freeport, the island’s main center, also has good connections with the USA, making it the second most popular travel destination in the Bahamas for scuba divers.
Located directly on the Tropic of Cancer, southeast from Exuma Cay and 165 miles (265 km) from Nassau, Long Island has earned a reputation as being one of the most picturesque islands in the Bahamas. One such location of outstanding natural beauty is known as Dean's Blue Hole. At 202m (663 ft), it is the second deepest underwater sink hole in the world, but what sets it apart is its setting - it is enclosed by a natural cliff amphitheatre on 3 sides, and open to the sea on the other via aquamarine shallows and a powdery sand beach. Free diving competitions are held here but advanced divers love the spot too. Show more
Elsewhere the small bays and inlets host dramatic wall dives, pristine reef flats and thrilling encounters with marine life. Conception Island has staggering drop-offs as good as anywhere in Bahamas and a healthy reef flat packed with hard corals. The superb visibility allows divers to ebjoy waters teeming with sea life. The impressive wall is best viewed by use of a torch which brings the amazing colour out of the sponges and soft caorals that adorn it. There are plenty of lobsters and groupers to spot in their hideouts here too.
Located nearby is the wreck of the HMS Conqueror. This was a splendid looking 101 gun British Navy ship that sank in 30 ft (9m) of water off Rum Cay in 1861. Due the passage of time, the ship's hull has rotted but you can still identify some of the cannons and balls, an engine and propeller shaft, and there is plenty of coral growth and fish life too. The shallow depth makes it a wreck for everyone to enjoy.
Another Long Island wreck is The Cornerbach, a 110 ft / 33m long British steel freighter that was deliberately sunk in 1986. The boat rests upright now in about 90 ft / 27m of water, its wheelhouse intact and the wreckage of a bus housed in the forward hold. Decorated with soft corals, purple sea fans and vividly colored sponges, the ship is highly photogenic. You will find leopard-spotted flamingo tongue snails, crabs and Christmas tree worms on the structure, while trumpetfish stalk their prey. Southern stingrays often rest on the surrounding sand, and dozens of blacktip reef sharks can also be found here.
Shark Reef is another famous site on Long Island. Inevitably for the Bahamas, this is another shark feed dive where particpants can see a couple of dozen Caribbean reef sharks at close quarters from their vantage point on the sea floor.
New Providence is home to Nassau, the capital city of Bahamas, and in every way it is the center of the country. It is also its most popular dive location. The clear, warm waters that surround the island, the sheltered shallows, and its easy access to the USA have made Nassau a hot property in Hollywood and several underwater blockbusters have been shot here, including Into The Blue, Jaws and James Bond. But the attractions do not stop here. There are many wrecks resting on the sands and reefs that are interesting to explore. There is the Lost Blue Hole, one of the most picturesque settings imaginable for a dive spot. There are adrenaline fuelled shark dives, enchanting coral reefs full of color, and dramatic drop-offs into deep oceanic trenches.
As the name suggests, this is the place to experience the thrill of diving with numerous tiger sharks in perfect conditions. You will descend to the sandy bottom, which can vary in depth from 20 ft (6m) to 100 ft (30m). Here you will excitedly, but calmly, line up behind the experienced feeder and wait for the show to begin. Remember to keep breathing as the stars arrive. Yes these are the big names in the industry! Impressive tiger sharks, hammerheads, lemon sharks, nurse sharks and Caribbean reef sharks are drawn to the fish-filled crate.
The stage is set, the conditions are perfect with crystal clear water and little to no current, and the performers enter, sometimes in pairs, or groups of 7 and if you are lucky as many as 15 will vie for the chance of a free meal. Now is the time to capture this incredible moment with these majestic creatures to later share with fellow Grand Bahama scuba diving enthusiasts. If this experience is not sufficiently spectacular, on an auspicious day, you will also encounter dolphins!
The Bahamas are best experienced from the comfort of your liveaboard charter. Boat diving cruises are the top choice for those who want to maximize their scuba opportunities and take in the enchanting top side scenery. The Bahamas form a chain of inner and outer island and cay sites that you will dive directly from your sturdy liveaboard, enabling a comfortable entry and elegant exit.
Since the Bahamas are a popular diving spot with a very low number of liveaboard operators, availability can be an issue. We recommend you book 12 months in advance to avoid disappointment.
To find a cruise that's right for you and for more information on all the travel information you might need to visit, see our Bahamas liveaboards section.
There are some fluctuations in the weather, however for the most part these have a minimal effect and scuba diving the Bahamas is possible year round. November brings with it colder fronts occasionally, and the water temperature can drop to 77°F (25°C). For 'winter', the temperatures are still at a level to dive comfortably.
The warmest water temperatures (85°F / 30°C) occur during the rainy summer months from June to September. This is also when the seas are the calmest and visibility the best. However with such incredible conditions, the visibility is still spectacular even during the winter months. August is considered to be the month that experiences most storms, although these are also infrequent.
Although a year round destination for divers, there are some seasonal factors that could affect the species you encounter. The Bahamas liveaboards visit Tiger Beach to see tiger sharks around the May to July period, while March to June is the best time for spotting oceanic whitetips. April tends to the be the best critter time of the year and therefore favored by macro enthusiasts. May is an active period for fish and coral spawning, although grouper spawning takes place at the full moon between late January and earl February.
One of the most curious annual events in the Bahamas is the 'March of the Spiny Lobster'. The world famous phenomenon takes place in late October/early November on the Bahamas Banks (near Abacos, Grand Bahama and Andros), when heavy rains trigger the lobsters to leave their hideouts in the thousands and macrh in single file in to deeper and more settled water. The single file march provides protection as each lobster,covers the vulnerable rear section of the lobster in front.
For more on the climate and weather, visit thewebsite.
Review our map below showing the location of the country in the world. Here, you will find information on how to get to the Bahamas.
Depth: 19 - >130ft (6 - >40m)
Visibility: 50 - 98ft (15 - 30m)
Currents: Mild to moderate
Surface conditions: Generally calm with some swell or chop during storms
Water temperature: 78 - 84°F (25 - 29°C) in summer and 72 - 80°F (22 - 27°C) during winter
Experience level: Beginners to advanced
Number of dive sites: ~1,000
Recommended length of stay: 6-14 days
CUSTOMER TESTIMONIALS OF DIVE THE WORLD
... Dive The World provides comprehensive listing of all destinations in the world ... excellent prices for all the destinations. Vic was very easy to work with. He always returned my inquiries promptly, usually within a day. Vic provided all pertinent information for the trip quickly and in depth ... -- Timothy Chae, United States. [More customer reviews]