With over 700 sun-soaked islands, endless white sand beaches and numerous dive sites, you’re truly spoilt in the Bahamas. Dive in for world-famous great hammerhead, oceanic whitetip and tiger shark dives, gorgeous coral reefs and shallow walls teeming with reef life, plus one of the deepest blue holes on Earth.
Diving in the Bahamas
One of the world’s well known luxurious vacation spots, boasting more than 700 islands with pristine water, white sandy beaches and exceptional marine life, is The Bahamas. With 340 average days of sun annually and the clearest water in the Caribbean, Tucked away in paradise, this heavenly gem is a favourite for divers and non-divers alike, not only for its magnificent beaches and culture, but similarly for being just as abundant and beautiful below the waves as it is on land.
Best time to dive
The Caribbean has one of the most favourable climates on Earth, with warm air and sea temperatures all year round. Its position close to the equator means that it is an endless summer paradise, and with a wealth of islands to explore, divers are completely spoilt for choice by this incredible area, particularly in the Bahamas.
The Bahamas doesn’t really have a bad time to visit, however, September to May is the most popular time when tourists are in higher numbers due to more comfortable, drier weather conditions. The not-so-wintery air temperature tends to hang around 21°C (around 0 Fahrenheit) and rarely falls below 16°C (around 60°F). In the sea, the coldest temperatures can dip to 22°C (72°F to 75°F) in January and February.
Average air temperatures in the summer vary from to 27°C (around 80°F) to 32°C (around 90°F), have noticeably higher humidity levels, and are usually low in visitors. But that doesn’t mean the diving is bad, if anything you’ll want to dive more due to the warmer weather! Ocean temperatures in July and August normally rest at a lovely 28°C (81°F to 83°F). Furthermore, this is the time you’re likely to find great deals on resorts and diving, so what better time to snag a discounted package? Even in the rainy season from May to November, diving is still enjoyed by many. The occasional tropical rainstorm passes by and doesn’t normally last long, so the weather in this season shouldn’t put anybody off diving here.
Types of diving
So, how do you go diving in the Bahamas? With an abundance of choice, divers can choose from dive centers, resorts, and also many liveaboards that venture to different locations all year round. It’s an endless diving hub, so no matter what time of year, you won’t be disappointed. Of course, the temperatures and weather are subject to the season, which means that sea conditions may change somewhat, and marine creatures might vary, so if your aim is to dive with something specific, like shark encounters, which are known to the Bahamas, be sure to go at the right time.
As for right-place-right-time-dive sites, there are many in the Bahamas to name. One particularly special spot for shark enthusiasts is Grand Bahama, where Tiger Beach dive site is located. Here, tiger sharks assemble in large numbers and you can relax while hanging out with them on the sand. The best time to see these majestic creatures is between October and January, when numbers normally higher.
Beginners and even the most experienced of divers shall be mesmerised by the Bahamas’ diversity, beautiful reefs, colour and thriving marine life. There are shallow reefs with turtles, sharks and colorful fish with minimal currents, which are perfect conditions for beginners taking their first plunge, or quite simply divers who enjoy relaxing, easy dives with a great view. The Abaco Islands’ Sandy Cay, Fowl Cay and Pelican Cay National Parks come under this category, with beautiful protected shallow reefs and usually great visibility.
Divers can also visit amazing wrecks, and deep holes, which is perhaps suited to more advanced divers or those wanting to take advanced or specialty dive courses. One notable area for wreck lovers is Nassau, nicknamed the “Underwater Hollywood,” due to its dive sites being featured in several James Bond films. Here, you can visit the Vulcan Bomber from the film “Thunderball,” and the Tears of Allah wreck from “Never Say Never Again.”
If topography is your thing, try visiting the breathtaking walls all around the Bahamian islands. Near Freeport, the capital of Grand Bahama, The Great Lucaya and Grand Bahama Wall are well known spots to enjoy walls, swim-through and caves, and are brimming with life, including various coral species, fish and sea fans.
With shore dives, boat dives, and some dive sites only accessible by liveaboard, divers have a myriad of options when it comes to logistics, dive trips and dive site selection.
What to see
One of the main highlights of Bahamian diving is the opportunity to experience some of the most intimate shark diving the world has to offer. Sharks are very protected, and diving with them is strictly controlled, meaning they are kept safe and healthy. As mentioned, Tiger Beach, Grand Bahama is a must for getting close to sharks.
Similarly, Bimini is another spot for shark lovers. It has three islands: North, South, and East Bimini, where there are daily tours. Great hammerheads come close to divers here, along with the occasional nurse and bull shark. The best time to dive here is from December to April, when appearances are more frequent.
New Providence, home to the capital, Nassau, has many dive sites mostly to the southwest of the island. Caribbean reef sharks are plentiful, and divers can see them all year round.
Also, ocean it whitetip sharks come to feast on migrating tuna at Cat Island. These usually solitary creatures congregate to feed mostly in April and May, when divers are more likely to see them in higher numbers.
Best places to dive
Any diver who’s been to the Bahamas will likely tell you that there are too many “best” places to dive. With colorful fish, vibrant reefs, dramatic topography and an abundance of marine species, there is something for everyone. Though, most divers come for the sharks, for which these islands are world famous.
Tiger Beach, as the name suggests, is the place to dive with tiger sharks in Grand Bahama should definitely be on the list of best places to go scuba diving in the Bahamas. Such close encounters with these pelagics in crystal shallow water is an experience of a lifetime for any diver.
In the Exuma Cays, plenty of dive spots promise gorgeous coral reefs and walls all within shallow depths. One place in particular here, the beautifully named Angelfish Blue Hole, is a favourite for underwater photographers, with plenty of colour, life, and frequent sightings of turtles and eagle rays. Nearby, the Thunderball Grotto site features special natural rock formations, with holes and tunnels at which divers can marvel.
Finally, another bucket-list worthy dive to accomplish is Dean’s Blue Hole. Its among the deepest blue holes on Earth at 202m (663 feet) deep and around 25-35m (50-100 feet) wide. For those not too keen on depth, the shallows around the hole is home to plenty of fish, coral and even turtles.
The Abaco Islands
Situated in the Northern part of the Bahamas, the Abaco's offer divers access to some great dive areas such as Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park with its underwater caves, whilst to the North turtles and sharks can also be spotted.