Nassau and Freeport are the diving & snorkeling centers.
In the Bahamas, clear water is constantly pumped in from the Gulf Stream, so visibility will often reach 100 feet.
Winter storms may churn up the bottom and could keep the boats from making some of the longer runs. Summer and early fall usually provide the surest conditions.
In planning a dive trip, keep in mind that the water temperature does get chilly in winter, sometimes dropping as low as 70. This requires a full wet suit. In summer, the temps reach bathtub comfort, into the 80s.
The Bahamas may be only 50 miles from Ft. Lauderdale, but the island chain might as well be on the other side of the world when it comes to the quality of diving.
It really is better--dramatically better--in the Bahamas. Bahamian reefs, wrecks and marine life are far superior to anything divers find in Florida , including the highly touted--and far more crowded--Keys.
Of the 700 Bahamas landfalls, only a small number have land-based dive operations, and most of them are clustered in two locations, Grand Bahama and New Providence. (For Nassau diving opportunities, see Nassau Diving)
Elsewhere, divers are scarce. Fewer than two dozen live-aboard boats are available to cover the 100,000 square miles of clear Atlantic waters. Clearly, the majority of islands never see a diver unless one happens to be passing through aboard a private yacht.
The variety of diving opportunities is impressive.
First, there are the incredible blue holes. One of the most picturesque, Ben's Cave, is located not in the ocean but inland, on Grand Bahama Island. Ben's Cave, a national preserve open only to six divers at a time, has many impressive, delicate geologic formations including both stalactites and stalagmites. It's a miniature, liquid-filled version of Mammoth Cave .
Diving with sharks is always an exciting prospect, particularly when you
know the experience will be a safe one. Controlled shark feeding is rare in
other parts of the hemisphere. In fact, it's not available anywhere
in the Caribbean.
Still, the animal with the most universal appeal--for divers and non-divers alike--it is the dolphin. Always wearing a kind of "Hey, how are you, buddy?" type of smile, dolphins rarely approach divers closely in the open ocean. At Freeport on Grand Bahama Island,, anyone can feed, stroke and swim with bottle-nose dolphins in the open ocean. No nets or other enclosures are needed to keep the trained animals penned. This dolphin encounter is the only place in the world where divers can interact with dolphins on a scheduled basis: www.unexso.com.
While in Freeport, serious wreck divers will want to check out "Theo's Wreck." This 280-foot freighter rests at 100 feet and is loaded with corals and sponges. There are also several openings that allow a swim through.
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