SCUBA diving in the Bahamas

Reefs, Wrecks, Blue Holes, Sharks and More

The Bahamas offers a lifetime of diving possibilities for everyone from resort divers to explorers. Discover the cinematic reefs off New Providence featured in films from Thunderball to Into the Blue. Swim with wild dolphins off Bimini, drift a wall on the Tongue of the Ocean, relax in sunlit coral gardens at the Exuma Land and Sea Park or descend into a blue hole. For big thrills, sign up for encounters with a tiger, hammerhead, lemon, reef and oceanic white tip sharks. Topside water sports include kayak and sailing tours, flats casting and big game fishing. Dance barefoot in the sand at a local beach bar or try your luck at Nassau’s glittering casinos.

Highlights

  • Best for: Everyone from novice and casual divers to advanced explorers
  • Best season to visit: Year-round, with some areas exposed to cold fronts in winter months
  • Weather: Sub-tropical climate similar to Florida, with warm water temperatures in summer, becoming cooler in winter when cold fronts pass

Bahamas Information

About Diving in the Bahamas

Many dive sites are sheltered from prevailing trade winds and oceanic swells, but can be susceptible to local winds. Dive operators will select daily destinations accordingly. Water conditions are often calmest in summer. A limited number of sites—predominantly patch reefs— that can be reached from shore, but most will require a boat ride of 10 to 30 minutes. Underwater visibility often exceeds 100 feet, thanks to the lack of coastal runoff.  Currents, depending on the region chosen range from non-existent to strong. Dive profiles range from less than ten feet to walls that drop well past 150 feet, making the Bahamas a suitable destination for divers of every experience level. Water temperatures range from the mids 70s in winter into the low 80s in summer.

Diving in the Bahamas Tips

Because most diving is done by boat  there is no need for booties with thick, hard soles. Either open or closed-heel fins are fine. Video and still cameras work well even without lights, as the clear waters provide ample ambient light to bring out the details. For shark encounters, it is sometimes advised—though not required-— to wear dark wetsuits and possibly dark gloves and a light hood.

Best Places to Dive in the Bahamas

Popular favorites include the barrier reefs and blue holes of Andros, Tuna Alley and The Bimini Road, the walls and reefs of the Exumas Land and Sea Park, the coral grottoes of the Abacos and the renowned Shark Dive at Stuart Cove’s.

What to Pack for Diving in the Bahamas

A light skin suit or 3-mm wetsuit is sufficient for  summertime. From December through March a 5-mm suit might be in order, and a cover-up to mitigate evaporative cooling during surface intervals. Pack a deployable surface marker if a drift dive is on the schedule.

Specials

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Bahamas

Riding Rock Inn Resort & Marina

SAN SALVADOR - ISLAND ESCPAE DIVE PACKAGE includes 5 nights standard accommodations, 10 boat dives, 15 meals, free WiFi in designated areas, roundtrip airport transfers, hotel taxes, and service charges. Valid 9/3/17-12/23/17.
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From $1,194 per person double diver

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Courtyard Marriott Nassau

NASSAU, BAHAMAS - DIVE PACKAGE includes 7 nights standard king accommodations, 5 days of 2-tank boat dives, free WiFi, roundtrip airport transfers, hotel taxes and service charges. Valid 9/1/17-10/31/17. Add $103 per person for travel through 8/31/17 & 11/1/17-12/31/17.
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From $1,424 per person double diver

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Bahamas

Bahamas Aggressor

EXUMA CAYS AND SOUTHWEST ELEUTHERA - 7-NIGHT ITINERARY includes 7 nights deluxe stateroom accommodations, diving as scheduled, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and beverages including local beer and wine. Valid for departure on 10/21/17-10/28/17.
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From $2,295 per person double diver

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Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach

GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND - BAHAMAS FOREVER DIVE SPECIAL includes 5 nights accommodations, 4 days of 2-tank boat dives, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, snacks and beverages including alcohol, non-motorized watersports, daily scheduled entertainment, roundtrip airport transfers, hotel taxes and service charges. Valid 10/1/17-10/31/17. Add $37 per person for travel 9/4/17-9/30/17. Book by 8/31/17.
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From $878 per person double diver

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Packages

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Bahamas

Riding Rock Inn Resort & Marina

SAN SALVADOR - 7-NIGHT DIVE PACKAGE includes 7 night standard accommodations, 16 dives, 21 meals, free WiFi, roundtrip airport transfers, hotel taxes and service charges.
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From $1,592 per person double diver

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Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina

BIMINI - DIVE PACKAGE includes 7 night Standard room accommodations, 6 days of 2-tank morning boat dives, room taxes and resort fee.
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From $1206 per person dbl diver

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Resorts

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Bahamas

Courtyard Marriott Nassau

NASSAU - Relax after a busy day in Nassau at the resort-style pool under the sun or walk just a few steps to the famous Junkanoo Beach. Stay fit at the on-site fitness center, providing free weights and cardiovascular equipment. Whether stopping by one of the small shops around downtown, the hotel provides easy access to experience the authentic local flair of Nassau. Following an adventurous day, unwind in the sleek lobby lounge and stay in touch with friends and family back home via free, property-wide Wi-Fi.
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Bluff House Beach Resort & Marina

ABACO - Bluff House Beach Resort & Marina is located on Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, in the Bahamas, three miles off the east coast of Great Abaco which is approximately a one-hour flight from Florida. Perched on the highest point of Green Turtle Cay, this 12 acre tropical paradise stretches from White Sound to the Sea of Abaco. Many have described it as the “most special piece of property in Abaco". Located on Green Turtle Cay is a vacation paradise for sailors, divers and fishermen. Snorkeling and SCUBA diving is a popular adventure with the world’s third largest barrier reef just a short boat ride away. You can beachcomb for shells and tossed up treasures from the sea on our power-soft, white-sand beaches or take a leisurely boat ride and explore the many nearby deserted cays. .
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Small Hope Bay Lodge

ANDROS - Located on Andros Island, a short boat ride from the world’s third largest coral reef, the diving and bonefishing are nothing less than spectacular at this all-inclusive resort. What really sets Small Hope apart is its unique heritage, its simple and friendly ambiance and a special soulful energy that simply cannot be cloned or imitated.
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Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina

BIMINI - Founded in the 1930’s as an elegant dinner club, and later in 1947 relocated to its current home and expanded, the Bimini Big Game Club is known the world over among “top of class” sportsmen and their families.
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Hilton At Resorts World Bimini

BIMINI - The Hilton at Resorts World Bimini is an exclusive island paradise featuring luxury Caribbean hotel accommodations and world-famous Bahamas beach resort activities; perfect for family vacations, destination weddings, honeymoons and more. Diving services are available from Bimini Undersea located onsite.
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Tiamo Resort

ANDROS - Tiamo Resort is an exclusive slice of paradise in the heart of the Caribbean. Situated on South Andros Island in the Out Islands of the Bahamas, a visit to Tiamo is unlike most other experiences. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, with a private beach, only 10 villas and the Bird’s Nest in our resort, taking a vacation here really does enable you get away from it all.
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Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach

GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND - Nestled on the southern coast, this 26-acre, 276-room all-inclusive resort features a pool, beautiful white sand beach, three bars, three restaurants, theater, fitness center and onsite Reef Oasis Dive Club. As the only all-inclusive resort on the island, surrounded by tropical forests and park lands, a stay here is like having your own private paradise.
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Sandals Emerald Bay

GEORGETOWN, GREAT EXUMA - Unfolding like a grand estate, Sandals Emerald Bay is a 500-acre resort set along a one-mile stretch of white-sand beach. This all-butler resort offers a selection of 183 magnificently appointed, luxurious accommodations with styles that range from beachfront villas to charming bay house settings. **Call for the best available rate**.
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Green Turtle Club Resort & Marina

ABACO - Explore Earth's third-largest barrier reef, explore historic wrecks, walls, and swim-through caverns, dive with dolphins, turtles, and sharks, hand feed stingrays, tropical fish , and Brendal's pet groupers - Junkanoo and Calypso - all at exotic Green Turtle Caye.
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Treasure Cay Beach Marina & Golf Resort

ABACO - Less than 200 miles from Florida’s coast, the Bahamian island of Abaco is home to the village of Treasure Cay and this laid-back resort where more than three miles of sleepy white sand beach anchor a genuine Caribbean paced experience; reminiscent of a truly relaxed way of life. Served by multiple daily direct fights, fun for all ages oasis operates a noted 150-slip marina and classic Dick Wilson golf course.
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Breezes Bahamas

NASSAU - Miles away from everyday life, but only minutes from the airport. Breezes Bahamas is located on a stretch of the island’s best beach: The powder white sands of Cable Beach. Crystal clear waters gently lap the shore as everyday worries drift away. Just a short stroll along the beach takes you to the excitement of Nassau’s glittering casinos.
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Stella Maris Resort Club

LONG ISLAND - Offering diving, kayaking, biking and more, this sophisticated retreat “at a barefoot price” is ideal for water sports enthusiasts. It has the best of the subtropical climate zones, enjoying moderate summer and fall temperatures. Underwater is clear and rich with marine life. Guests can enjoy wholesome day activities to pleasant sunset entertainment.
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Riding Rock Inn Resort & Marina

SAN SALVADOR - The charming and authentic Bahama Out Island of San Salvador is home to Riding Rock Resort and Marina, a family owned and operated dive resort. The property has 42 rooms, most offering views of a breathtaking white sand beach and the Caribbean Sea. Enjoy their newly renovated great house with its restaurant, bar and expansive waterfront deck. A short stroll from the resort is the marina and their PADI dive shop, Guanahani Divers. Dive boats depart for two-tank morning dives and one-tank afternoon dives to any of the 30+ eye-popping dive sites featuring superb walls, healthy reefs, prolific fish populations, crystal clear visibility and many species of sharks. Packages include accommodations, meals, diving, airport transfers and taxes to ensure a worry-free stay. Contact us for 4 to 6-night packages.
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Liveaboards

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Bahamas Master

DOLPHIN AND TIGER SHARK EXPERIENCE ITINERARY - The Bahamas Master has 8 well-designed cabins and can comfortably welcome 16 divers aboard. Guests can choose between three cabin types; with two Master cabins on the forward upper deck, with double beds plus private en-suite bathroom, two premier twin cabins with en-suite and four standard cabins sharing two bathrooms with heated showers. All cabins have panoramic windows, so there is plenty of day light and ocean view for all.
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Bahamas Master

TIGER BEACH EXPERIENCE ITINERARY - The Bahamas Master has 8 well-designed cabins and can comfortably welcome 16 divers aboard. Guests can choose between three cabin types; with two Master cabins on the forward upper deck, with double beds plus private en-suite bathroom, two premier twin cabins with en-suite and four standard cabins sharing two bathrooms with heated showers. All cabins have panoramic windows, so there is plenty of day light and ocean view for all.
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Aqua Cat Cruises

Explore the dive sites of Northern Exuma in the Bahamas from this 102’ catamaran with 11 spacious air-conditioned cabins, each with private bath. A 35’ beam ensures a smooth ride at speeds of up to 14 knots. Meals are served in either the spacious dining salon or alfresco on the covered upper deck. The dive deck is custom built with a spacious photo station for camera equipment as well as rinse tanks, showers and toilet. The sun deck offers loungers and a bar with cold beverages including Bahamian micro brewery beer on tap as well as frozen rum drinks for when the diving day is done.
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Bahamas

Bahamas Aggressor

TIGER BEACH ITINERARY - From May through August the Bahamas Aggressor departs every Saturday from Old Bahama Bay Resort in West End on 7-night itineraries diving remote areas around West End, Grand Bahama. At least one afternoon during the trip will be dedicated to a dive at the area know as "Tiger Beach" where sharks are attracted using a "scent triangle" filled with bait. Caribbean reef sharks, lemon sharks and tiger sharks are known to frequent the area.
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Bahamas

Bahamas Aggressor

EXUMA CAY ITINERARY - From September through April the Bahamas Aggressor departs Nassau every Saturday on 7-night itineraries through the Exuma Cays. The area encompasses more than 350 small islands and cays through which the tropical Atlantic flows creating deep cuts and shifting sand bars.
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Diving in the Bahamas

Diving in the Bahamas is all about diversity. Tens of thousands of new divers have made their first submersions on the near shore reefs of New Providence and Grand Bahama, but these same waters attract treasure hunters, adventurers and cave explorers, and have been the subject of hundreds of nature documentaries and feature films. The vast majority of the 700 significant islands of the Bahamas sit atop a pair of shallow limestone banks: Little Bahama Bank and Great Bahama Bank, which together encompass tens of thousands of square miles of submerged habitat. Many islands are surrounded by vast landscapes of shallow coral heads that are home to grouper, lobster and a wealth of colorful tropical species. Wrecks from Spanish treasure galleons to smuggler's yachts ran afoul on these reefs, and have since been joined by purpose-sunk wrecks. Beyond the shallows lie steep underwater walls, offshore pinnacles and blue water where big fish swim. The hand feeding of Caribbean reef sharks has long been a hallmark of the Bahamas diving scene, and each year thousands of divers earn bragging rights for swimming with the sharks, secure in the knowledge that these interactions have a stellar safety record. Emboldened divers seeking a less scripted encounter with apex predators can meet up with everything from hammerheads and lemon sharks to tigers, bulls and oceanic white tips. Even more compelling for some is the opportunity to interact with pods of wild dolphins in the sand flats near Bimini and north of West End. Island substrates are riddled with water-filled caverns that come to the surface in the form of blue holes. Cave divers have mapped miles of spectacular passages beneath the islands of Grand Bahama, Great Abaco and Andros, while Long Island is home to the world's deepest known saltwater blue hole, which plunges to a depth of 663 feet.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements

Entry/Exit Requirements: All U.S. Citizens are required to present a valid passport. No visa is required for American citizens. All persons, six years and over leaving the Bahamas, pay a Government Departure Tax of 29.00 which should be included in your international airline ticket taxes.

Immunizations

Vaccinations are not required for entry into the Bahamas. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at Traveler's Health CDC The Bahamas.

 

Culture and Customs

Though still a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Bahama's English heritage is obvious only in the historic architecture of Nassau, a love for the Queen, and the nation's parliamentary system of government. The cosmopolitan resorts of Paradise Island and Grand Bahama may be more spiritually aligned with Miami or Las Vegas, but move into the Out Islands and you transition to island time, where the phrase “soon come” is the mantra for a relaxed, welcoming way of life. The big event on the calendar is Junkanoo, which is celebrated from December's Boxing Day to New Years Day. Every island stages a celebration, but the big show happens in Nassau when thousands of lavishly costumed revelers march through the streets to the accompaniment of horns, goombay drums and cowbells. Come March, the island sailboats are packed with passengers headed for the National Family Island Regatta in Georgetown. Here, crews from across the archipelago race traditional island sloops by day, then party the night away at Regatta Village Cricket season lasts from March to November, and ongoing commentary of the matches fills the local airwaves.

Celebrated since the 17th century, Junkanoo has grown into a large, organized event with groups that compete for cash prizes for best music, best costume, best dancing, etc. Traditionally held on New Year’s Day, Boxing Day and Independence Day, parades are also held during the annual “Junkanoo Summer Festival” and the “Just Rush” competition. Many hotels also offer Junkanoo shows for their guests throughout the year.

Electricity, Phone and Internet Access

Electricity in the Bahamas is 120 volts/60 cycles, which is the same as the U.S. and all U.S. appliances are compatible. the country code/area code for the Bahamas is 242. The local phone company BTC (Bahamas Telephone Company) should be available on your cell phone, so check with your carrier for costs for calls and data while in the Bahamas on roaming. There are many public hotspots, and you will find most hotels offer WiFi, as well as many bars, restaurants and shops.

Water Quality

Tap water is safe to drink on the main islands of the Bahamas. Bottled water is available for purchase.

Language & Currency

English is the official language, however you may hear locals speaking "Bahamian English" which has a mixture of African influence, island dialect and the Queen's diction. The H is often dropped so thanks sounds like tanks. The local currency is the Bahamian dollar (BSD) but U.S. Dollars are accepted everywhere. The Bahamian and the U.S. dollar are equivalent so as a visitor you don’t need to exchange any money. Credit cards are accepted at most locations on Nassau, Paradise Island and Grand Bahama Island. Cirrus and +PLUS ATMs can be found on Nassau, Paradise Island, Grand Bahama and most of the major Out Islands.

Time

The Bahamas are in the Eastern Time Zone. The Bahamian Islands do observe Daylight Savings Time. They are 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-5 during Eastern Standard Time) and 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time during Daylight Savings Time (-4 Eastern Daylight Time).

Location, Size and Population

The Bahamas are located in the North Atlantic Ocean on the eastern edge of the Caribbean. They are approximately 45 miles Southeast of Florida. The Bahamian Islands are made up of approximately 700 islands and 2,000 cayes of which about only 30 are inhabited. The islands are north of Cuba, northwest of the Turks and Caicos, and Southeast of the Florida Keys. The size of the Bahamas is approximately 5,382 square miles with a coastline of 1,368 square miles. The capital city of the Bahamas is Nassau, located on New Providence and is approximately 80 square miles. The population of the Bahamas is 392,575 (2016).