Scuba Diving In The Bahamas: What To Expect


If you’re getting set to go scuba diving in The Bahamas, prepare to be amazed. Not only are the beaches stunning and the marine life thriving in this part of the world, travelers can island hop in this tropical archipelago to experience multiple scuba sites. Many people go to this island chain just to dive and depending on how long you’re there, you’ll be able to scuba dive off the coasts of many different islands, some uninhabited.

Want to go on free scuba dive trips in The Bahamas? PADI® certified guests of any of the two Sandals all-inclusive resorts in The Bahamas can go on scuba diving trips at no additional cost, this includes all equipment (max. two tanks per day)! Not PADI® certified yet? Get certified at an additional cost and dive the rest of your vacation for free.

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Aside from the super clear seas and endless options, one of the things divers love most about vacationing in The Bahamas is that there are just so many things to do and see. All in all, The Bahamas is a great place for a scuba diving vacation. For the purposes of ensuring you’re well prepped for your dive vacation, we’ve compiled a list of Sandals’ best dive sites and the marine life you may encounter along the way.

What you can expect to see
Sandals best scuba dive sites in The Bahamas
When to go scuba diving in The Bahamas
Diving with Sandals Resorts
Bonus: alternatives to scuba diving
Happy diving!

What you can expect to see

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Photo credit: Damsea/Shutterstock.com

A better headline would probably be, is there really anything that you won’t see while scuba diving in The Bahamas? Ahead of your trip, you can be assured that it is indeed true that The Bahamas is an excellent dive destination.

Colorful fish and coral reefs of all types call this region home, and thus add to a more than optimal diving environment. In addition to fishes of all kinds, including the Nassau Grouper, the wrasse, parrot fish, scorpion fish, king fish, French grunts, barracuda and creatures like the Queen Conch and lots of crabs, lobsters, eels and even sting rays, you’ll have a real lesson right above the sea floor in a world much different than you’re probably used to.

While shark dives are optional, daring divers choose The Bahamas because they can seek out spots where they are likely to have sightings of sharks; including hammerheads, bull sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks and silky sharks. Dolphin and whale sightings are also not uncommon.

Sandals best scuba dive sites in The Bahamas

1. Blue Hole

Dive Level: Advanced
Available from: Sandals Royal Bahamian

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Photo credit: Lora B/Shutterstock.com

Blue hole diving is most assuredly for more skilled divers, and if you fit this category then this site is a must see while in The Bahamas. In fact, it has been rated as one of the top 3 dive locations in Nassau. The Blue Hole is about 9 miles off the eastern tip of Nassau, to the east. As you get into the hole, you’ll encounter coral heads of all sizes and scores of tropical fishes. The rock formations will immediately capture your attention as you deep-dive in this stunning location. While diving here you may even see turtles, stingrays, and sometimes sharks, particularly between July and early August which is the mating season for silky sharks.

2. Sandals Wall

Dive Level: Advanced
Available from: Sandals Emerald Bay

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Guests of the all-inclusive luxury resort Sandals Emerald Bay can make the most of this amazing dive sight during their vacation in The Bahamas. It’s easily accessible and there’s just so much to see. The wall starts at about the 50-ft mark and along the way you’ll spot a variety of tropical fish. Other sightings can include snappers, jacks, stingrays, barracudas and sometimes even dolphins or sharks!

3. Ras Mohammed

Dive Level: Advanced
Available from: Sandals Emerald Bay

parrot-fish

Photo credit: Richard Whitcombe/Shutterstock.com

More advanced divers will appreciate this dive most. Here you can spot things like parrotfish, bar jacks, amberjacks, and fan coral as far as the eye can see. If you’re staying at Sandals Emerald Bay, the reef is about 1 hour from the dive shop. On some days, you’ll even be able to spot barracuda.

4. James Bond Wrecks

Dive Level: Novice
Available from: Sandals Royal Bahamian

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Photo credit: Danita Delmont/Shutterstock.com

This site gets its name from famous appearances in not one but two James Bond movies. As expected, it is now one of the most popular dive sites across the islands. Visiting divers seek to experience for themselves the phenomenal deep sea location many had a chance to glimpse in the movies ‘Thunder Ball’ and ‘Never Say Never’. Here, in addition to props that still remain like The Vulcan Bomber, you can see parrotfish, soft coral including sponges, gorgonians, plum worms, arrow crabs, and more, not forgetting the Tears of Allah Wreck, a 92 ft supply boat.

5. Hollywood Bowl

Dive Level: Novice
Available from: Sandals Royal Bahamian

blue-tang

Photo credit: aquapix/Shutterstock.com

Hollywood Bowl is near Goulden Cay (west of New Providence) and it is a widely known dive site. Many of the underwater scenes from the James Bond 007 movies from the 1960s and 1970s were filmed at this location (once you take a dive you’ll see why!). Other movies including ‘Splash’, ‘Into the Blue’, ‘After the Sunset’ and ‘Cocoon’ also have scenes shot at this location. Here you can spot things like balloo, the Bermuda chubb, blue tang, sergeant majors, and various hard and soft coral formations. This is also a great spot for snorkeling and going on SNUBA® adventures.

6. Bahama Mama

Dive Level: Advanced
Available from: Sandals Royal Bahamian

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Photo credit: nicolasvoisin44/Shutterstock.com

The Bahama Mama is at the edge of the Tongue of the Ocean Wall. It is not too far offshore, which means a short boat ride will get you there in no time. Here you can explore the wall or the reefs, and scope for wrecks like the Bahama Mama which is about 40-ft down. The Bahama Mama is said to have once been a party boat. Other sightings in this area include lobsters, stingrays, and Bahamian reef sharks. Near the Bahama Mama vessel is the 200-ft vessel “Ray of Hope”, which was sunk purposely and now serves as an artificial reef. The “Ray of Hope” is fully intact, which means divers can explore the ship’s interior. This dive site is one that will keep you engrossed as you immerse yourself fully in the experience.

7. Stocking Island Blue Hole

Dive Level: Advanced
Available from: Sandals Emerald Bay

As far as Blue Holes go, Stocking Island is among the most raved about in The Bahamas. This dive site is also known as Angelfish Blue Hole much due to the number of angelfish that usually frequent the area. This dive starts at 18 ft and is 90 ft on the deep end. You can enjoy incredible sightings without even diving into the hole, but for those who do there’s a chamber on the bottom that you can swim through which is worth a try. Sightings in this area include horse-eye jacks, parrotfish, eagle rays, turtles, angel fish, and more. Aside from diving, the beaches are nice on Stocking Island, and you can grab something to eat at the conch shack, or at the beachside restaurant.

8. The Tug Wreck Dive

Dive Level: Advanced
Available from: Sandals Emerald Bay

The Tug is a 65-ft tugboat about 80 ft down off the coast of the Exumas. It was sunk intentionally in 2005 and now serves as an artificial reef. The best way to access this dive site is by boat, and you can spot a variety of marine life here including Nassau grouper, spiny lobster, horse-eye jacks, bar jacks, blue chromis, parrotfish, spotted drums, French grunts, schoolmasters, mackerel and even eels, stingrays, and barracuda. The Tug itself is a spectacular sight with sponges and corals embedded into its manmade features.

9. Mahoney Wreck

Dive Level: Novice
Available from: Sandals Royal Bahamian

There are many wrecks you can witness from underwater in The Bahamas, and Mahoney is one of those. Just about 30 ft beneath the ocean’s surface, near Paradise Island, this wreck (a steamship) dates to the 1800s and is considered a must visit. At this location sightings include angelfish, groupers, eels, pipefish, snappers, grunts, and more.

10. Shipyard

Dive Level: Advanced
Available from: Sandals Royal Bahamian

The Shipyard got its name because there is not one but four wrecks in this area. Wrecks include a 150-foot freighter known as The Ana Lise, the 95-foot Helena C wreck, the 90-foot Bahama Shell wreck and a wooden-hull cargo ship which is the most recent (1994). The wrecks lay at the 85 ft mark and are near each other, which while diving, can feel a bit like you’re diving in a nautical graveyard, as the site has been described. There’s life in this area though, and much of it, and you’ll encounter all sorts of tropical fish from silversides to Barracuda.

11. Port Nelson

Dive Level: Advanced
Available from: Sandals Royal Bahamian

Port Nelson is worth exploring for divers who want to take in both a wreck and a lively reef. This dive site is about 6 miles off the southwestern shore of New Providence. This artificial reef which was named in honor of a fallen seaman has survived many storms, and it is said to have been the last commissioned ship by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force prior to the Independence of the islands from Great Britain. The Bacardi Bar Reef is nearby and helps support the vibrant ecosystem and as such, the marine life in this area which often includes snappers, grunts, moray eels, scorpionfish, mackerel, kingfish, and barracuda.

12. Dog & Pup Reef

Dive Level: Novice
Available from: Sandals Emerald Bay

It can be hard to tell what to expect at a dive site with a name such as this, but Dog & Pup Reef offers a world of adventure for divers who might be just starting off. This reef is located off the shores of Dog Cay and Puppy Cay and on this dive, you may see things like French grunts, snapper, sea turtles, porcupine puffer fish, queen angelfish, grouper, lobster, and other interesting sightings.

13. Emerald Isle Reef

Dive Level: Novice
Available from: Sandals Emerald Bay

Clear waters and beautiful coral reefs are a sure recipe for a phenomenal diving session. Divers at Emerald Isle Reef can dive to a maximum depth of 46 ft around a densely populated reef where you can sometimes spot nurse sharks. The reef is about 45 minutes from the dive shop where you can gear up if you don’t have your own dive equipment.

14. LCT Wreck

Dive Level: Novice
Available from: Sandals Royal Bahamian

The LCT Barge dates to World War II and it is one of the historic things you can see while diving in The Bahamas. The wreck is near the White Hole Reef and is about 20 feet down. The wreck attracts many fishes and it’ll be an interesting experience seeing them either swim right up to you or flitter away as you descend. The eclectic reefs in this area will surely catch your attention, as will the wide variety of marine life.

15. Will Laurie

Dive Level: Novice
Available from: Sandals Royal Bahamian

The Will Laurie is a 130-ft freighter wreck near the New Providence area. As history tells it, the ship was on the way to being repaired, took in too much water, and sank. It now lays between 40-50-ft down and is decked with soft coral of all varieties. While exploring this area you may run into snappers, groupers, barracudas, and more. Look out for the large resident green moray eel known as Bubba! The eel normally hangs around the anchor winch or the aft so your search can begin there.

16. Fish Reef

Dive Level: Novice
Available from: Sandals Emerald Bay

Directly to the north of the Sandals Emerald Bay Marina you’ll find this dive site which is best for newbie divers. The reef here is quite shallow, and it is about 15 minutes away from the dive shop. Here you are likely to come across things like white grunts, yellowtail snapper, blue parrotfish and squirrelfish.

17. Da-Kutt

Dive Level: Novice
Available from: Sandals Emerald Bay

Da-Kutt is a straightforward site best suited for divers who’re new to the water or just want a less challenging dive. At this dive site you can get better acquainted with the various coral reef types and all their intricacies, as well as marvel at parrot fish, squirrel fish, Spanish grunts, yellowtail snapper, lionfish, and more. This dive site is about 40 minutes from the Sandals Emerald Bay resort.

18. Three Sister’s Rock

Dive Level: Novice
Available from: Sandals Emerald Bay

Three-Sisters-Rock

Photo credit: RaksyBH/Shutterstock.com

Three Sister’s Rock in the Exuma Islands is a magnetic spot which is popular with divers of all skill levels. The waters around the Exuma Islands are clear and alluring, and it is quite an experience to swim around the rock formations. Here divers can get up close to marine life, explore ridges and peek into crevices where some of the most intriguing sea creatures often hide. You will see fish dart into the dark holes, seeking shelter from predators and passers-by, while staying safe from the sometimes turbulent tides. Here you might spot things like crabs, sea urchins, rock oysters, sea anemones, limpets, and sea plants and reef fish of all types.


When to go scuba diving in The Bahamas

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There isn’t really a bad time to go to The Bahamas, but there are certain times of year that would be more suitable depending on the kind of experience you’re looking for. Typically, the high season for The Bahamas is from the middle of December to mid-April, and during this time the island is most populated.

The low season is between the months of June to November, which can be rainy at times, but are for the most part warm and sunny. If you’re heading to the islands to dive, you’ll be able to do this year-round, but those wanting to experience the thrill of seeing sharks for example, have higher chances of doing so from October to June.

The shoulder season is from April to June, and during that time you can still get some of the benefits of high season travel, with more availability in terms of resorts, and more activities and events as compared to the low season. All in all, The Bahamas is a great warm weather getaway.

Read our post Best Time to Visit The Islands Of The Bahamas for more detailed information on when to go.


Diving with Sandals Resorts

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Diving made easy is a reason many people go the all-inclusive way when vacationing in Caribbean destinations like The Bahamas.

Sandals Resorts in The Bahamas make scuba diving a breeze for both beginners and more experienced divers. If you plan on diving but don’t have the necessary certification, you can start the process with the resort. If you already have your PADI certification, you’ll be able to get into the water almost as soon as you settle in at the resort.

You can opt for either morning or afternoon dives depending on your preference, but most people who want to go a little further out to see some of the nicer sites choose to go on earlier dives. The dive team will go with your pace, and as you get more comfortable you’ll be able to dive in more different locations. As the staff are professional and friendly, feel free to share your preferences on what you’d like to see, and where you’d like to go specifically.

Another benefit of diving with Sandals if that you won’t have to worry about bringing your equipment along. If you do though, you can use a locker rental to store it in the dive shop.

All in all, the best part about staying at an all-inclusive is that the diving is free (max. two tanks a day per guest), so you won’t have to think about whether you can afford to do daily dives.


Getting PADI certified in The Bahamas at Sandals Resorts

If you’re already PADI certified ahead of your Bahamas getaway, this will help you get straight into the diving action just as soon as you land and are settled into your resort. If you’re not, there’s still plenty of time to get certified once you get to the island. Sandals resort facilitates the PADI certification process for guests at an extra cost. Once you’re certified, you can take advantage of free diving (2 tanks per day) for the rest of your vacation. See Sandals Scuba courses & prices.


Diving safely

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The first step to diving safely is ensuring you have the necessary certifications before getting into the water – this helps you to be able to navigate the various dive sites and also to follow the safety procedures particularly regarding the use of diving equipment.

When diving in a new location especially it is important to follow the instructions of your dive instructor and to stay close to your dive buddy. Keep an eye out for dive signals, which are imperative for proper communication. It is best to dive with a reputable dive center, or at a resort which makes dive safety a priority. This helps to ensure that your equipment is safe for use, and that all other elements are in place to keep you safe.


Bonus: alternatives to scuba diving

The Bahamas is one of those destinations where there’s always something going on. From carnivals to regattas, even if you’re not a fan of scuba diving, you won’t have to search hard to find something to do in the islands.

If you’re not getting scuba certified and you’d like to explore the tropical fish and coral beneath the surface of those beautiful turquoise waters, go on a snorkel tour! In The Bahamas there’s also an opportunity to give SNUBA® diving a go, which is the closest you’ll likely get to scuba diving without going all in.

Tip: Read our Ultimate Guide to SNUBA® Diving to find out more. If you haven’t tried snorkeling before, take a peek at our snorkeling tips for beginners and explore the best snorkeling spots in Nassau.

If you are a scuba lover and just want a few extra things to do, we’ve got you covered in our list of things to do in The Bahamas.

For starters, you can spend some time lounging on some of the most incredible beaches in the world while your travel buddy enjoys the beauty of the undersea. There are many great beaches spread across the islands including Cable Beach and Love Beach. Read our post on the best beaches in Nassau to get an idea of where to begin your explorations!

Many people who vacation in The Bahamas choose to stay on the island of Providenciales, home to capital Nassau. If you’ll be staying in this area, our list of things to do in Nassau post offers 78 neat things you can try while you’re there, including going on a catamaran cruise and exploring historical forts downtown. You can also experience some deep sea fishing, which many people love!

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Whether you want a bit of history on the side, or something more entertaining like watching the Swimming Pigs of Pig Island, once you plan it out right you’ll be able to fit in some really amazing experiences in The Bahamas.


Happy diving!

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You won’t soon run out of interesting dive sites in The Bahamas, nor will you exhaust the extensive list of things you can do while there. Make the best of your time in this awe-inspiring part of the world by planning properly – do the things you want to do most first, dive whenever you can, and relax and enjoy your time in paradise!

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Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Born on the tropical island that is Saint Lucia affords a never-ending source of inspiration. In the past 13 years, Kylie loved to work with various newspapers, magazines and blogs in the Caribbean.

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