Picturesque white beaches, turquoise water, and sharks galore – the Bahamas has well and truly got it all. But with so many incredible spots across the sprawling archipelago, where should you go scuba diving in the Bahamas?
We’ve collaborated with our friends at Original Diving to bring you the ultimate guide to the best diving in the Bahamas. From thrilling great hammerheads in Bimini to the laid-back Abacos, our guide will help you plan your dream Bahamas scuba diving trip!
Bahamas – The Basics
Scuba diving in the Bahamas offers up some of the best encounters in the Caribbean. Exploring this archipelago above land, you’ll find an island to suit any diver’s needs. There are spots with relaxed island vibes ideal for vacationing with friends. Quieter, family friendly destinations such as the Abacos are ideal for those travelling with mixed groups of divers and non-divers.
Of course, we’re more interested in what’s going on beneath the idyllic white beaches. With incredible visibility almost guaranteed, Bahamas scuba diving has a huge variety of types of dive. There are extensive, thriving reef systems, as well as deeper walls to explore.
History lovers will enjoy exploring the variety of wrecks, many of which are shallow enough for beginners to visit. It’s not all shallow reefs and easy dives, though – there are caverns and even caves on offer for the technical divers out there!
How do I get to the Bahamas?
One of the biggest draws of the Bahamas is just how easy they are to get to. Lying just southeast of Florida, many airlines offer regular short haul flights from the US. There are three major international airports – Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) in Nassau, Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO) in Freeport, and Exuma International Airport (GGT) in George Town. If you’re travelling from outside the US, you will generally fly via Miami or New York.
The Bahamas can also be accessed by boat from the US. Regular ferries run from Miami to Bimini (other routes from Florida are available), taking around two hours. Tickets cost roughly $200 plus tax.
You may want to include a few destinations on your Bahamas itinerary. Luckily inter island travel is relatively easy, with options including boats and short island hopper flights.
What marine life can I see in the Bahamas?
Home to the world’s third largest barrier reef, the Andros Barrier Reef, you’ll certainly see some stunning creatures when scuba diving in the Bahamas. Countless reef fish inhabit the colourful coral gardens. Like much of the Caribbean, spotted eagle rays are a regular sighting, as well as turtles. If there’s one creature people visit the Bahamas for, though, it’s the sharks.
Sharks in the Bahamas
There are so many incredible sharks in the Bahamas, you’ll be spoilt for choice. It’s one of the best places in the world to encounter sharks, with Caribbean reef sharks inhabiting almost every island.
Bimini is one of the few places you can almost guarantee sightings of great hammerheads. For a truly thrilling encounter, head to Cat Island to dive alongside oceanic whitetip sharks. Other sharks you may come across in the Bahamas include lemon sharks, nurse sharks, black tips, tiger sharks, and bull sharks.
What are dive conditions like in the Bahamas?
Bahamas scuba diving offers fantastic visibility year round. This rarely drops below 25-30m (82-98 feet). The water is also incredibly warm, with summer temperatures as high as 31ºC (88ºF). This can drop to 24-27ºC (75-81ºF) in winter, so you will need a wetsuit in colder seasons.
On land, December-April is the busiest season. This is the best time of year to dive the Bahamas if you’re travelling for sharks, as it coincides with the best shark diving conditions.
The summer months are quieter as there’s more rain, however, this doesn’t really affect the conditions underwater. If you prefer quieter resorts and less crowds, you might prefer travelling at this time. Hurricane season runs June-November, although hurricanes are rare.
Where is the best diving in the Bahamas?
With so many islands to consider, which ones should you be spending your hard-earned holiday time on? Here’s some of the spots with the best diving in the Bahamas.
If you’re looking for laidback luxury, check out the Caribbean’s answer to the Maldives – the beautiful Exumas. This chain of islands has a plethora of dive sites to explore in between lounging around on the endless white beaches.
Currents are mostly minimal around the Exumas. Combined with stunning shallow reefs and wrecks, this makes it an ideal destination for newer divers. More experienced divers will enjoy adventuring through cavernous swim throughs and taking on faster-paced drift dives.
Eleuthera & Harbour Island
Eleuthera and Harbour Island are home to healthy, colourful reefs, teeming with life. These spots are particularly well known for thrilling drift dives. In Eleuthera, don’t miss the dives around the Devil’s Backbone. This area of shallow reef has been the downfall of many vessels, so it’s now littered with shallow wrecks for dives to explore.
From Harbour Island, check out Current Cut. Drifting in the channel between two islands offers an action packed dive. Gliding across a sandy bottom between 10-18m (35-60 feet), you’ll encounter the usual suspects which love fast-moving water, including reef sharks and eagle rays.
Continuing the theme of unmissable shark dives, Bahamas shark encounters don’t come much better than seeing the great hammerheads in Bimini. Bimini is one of the few places where encounters with great hammerhead sharks are almost guaranteed.
The dives are also ideal for underwater photographers. With shallow sites, you can spend long bottom times with fantastic visibility and natural lighting. There’s also the possibility of bull sharks and nurse sharks.
If you’re travelling with family, or a mixed group with non-divers, look no further than the Abacos. Whilst you’re diving, they can rent a golf buggy to explore the picturesque colonial architecture.
The best known dive area is Pelican Cays National Park, which offers thriving reefs filled with turtles, eagle rays, and tarpons.
Andros is something of a hidden gem in the Bahamas. Although it’s one of the largest islands, it has a small population and a small number of hotels. For divers, it has an incredibly unique site to explore too. The ‘Tongue of the Ocean’ between New Providence and Andros is like visiting the edge of the underwater world. Divers can descend a wall to a ledge, and peer down as the ocean plummets to a whopping 1830m (6000 feet).
Bahamas Dive Resorts
If you want to simplify your scuba trip, dive resorts are always a great option. Bahamas dive resorts are no exception, and these are some of the highlights from Original Diving’s expertly curated portfolio.
For divers seeking hammerheads, Bimini Big Game Club is ideally set up to take you to the shark action. A variety of room styles are on offer to suit every type of traveller, and great hammerhead safari dives are run on a regular basis during the shark season. The best time to visit for these encounters is between December and April.
On Andros, Small Hope Bay Lodge offers incredible diving in a friendly, family run setting. The eco-friendly cottages are simple but beautifully presented, and situated right on the beach front. Knowledgeable dive staff run daily trips to a choice of 60 local dive sites, including stunning reefs, blue holes, walls, and shark dives.
If you’re looking for a truly tailor-made adventure in the Bahamas, reach out to Original Diving’s Travel Experts. They will be on hand through every step of your trip planning to help you explore all that the Bahamas have to offer!