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14 beginner-friendly dive sites in the Bahamas

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Bahamas

Whether you’re a seasoned diver or just getting your feet wet, the Bahamas offers a diverse array of dive sites to explore. From vibrant coral reefs to mysterious blue holes and thrilling shark encounters, this Caribbean archipelago has it all.

As a new scuba diver, you might be wondering what sets the Bahamas apart and why you should choose it as your next diving destination. The Bahamas offers not only beginner-friendly reef diving, but also the opportunity to meet some of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures, from graceful sea turtles to dolphins and stingrays. Read on for our pick of 14 beginner-friendly dive sites in the Bahamas.

Bahamas

Photo: Ryan Geller

Andros Island

Andros Barrier Reef: Start your Bahamian diving journey at the third-largest barrier reef in the world. This idyllic wonderland is characterized by shallow, calm waters, making it perfect for novice divers. Here, you can encounter a diverse array of marine life, from playful dolphins to Nassau grouper, marlins, sailfish, and plenty of colorful reef fish.

Blue Holes: Venture into the mesmerizing world of underwater sinkholes, such as the famous Blue Hole on Andros. With its crystal-clear waters, this site offers excellent visibility and a sense of mystery as you descend into its depths.

The Crater: Dive into an inland blue hole near Small Hope Island known as The Crater. This unique site was once the ocean floor and collapsed in on itself, revealing a captivating cave system. Here, you can witness sea turtles peacefully resting on the bottom, swim alongside graceful stingrays, and marvel at the walls adorned with vibrant corals.

Bahamas

Photo: Alex Rose

Bimini

Bimini Road: Explore an underwater rock formation often compared to an ancient road. This extraordinary path of paving stones stretches along the seafloor for half a mile and is made up of large blocks, some of which are 12 feet (4 meters) across.

The origin of this structure is highly debated; some people believe it is manmade and might be the Road to Atlantis. Whether you believe that or not, the easy diving conditions and encounters with nurse sharks and stingrays make this site a fascinating dive for beginners. Dive depths are typically around 16 to 33 feet (5 to 10 meters), with water temperatures hovering around 75 – 85°F (24 – 29°C).

Cathedral: At the Cathedral dive site you can explore an ocean floor adorned with vibrant corals, creating a colorful and stunning underwater landscape.

Victory Reef: Descend to depths ranging from 30 to 79 feet (9 to 24 meters) and encounter green turtles, sharks, stingrays, and numerous reef fish at Victory Reef. The coral formations make this dive truly memorable.

Nassau

Shark Arena: If you’ve ever dreamed of coming face to face with sharks, Nassau’s Shark Arena is the place to do it. Experience shark feeding dives with trained professionals in a controlled environment, providing a safe opportunity to see various shark species up close. Dive depths typically range from 30 to 59 feet (9 to 18 meters).

Bahamas

Photo: Jakob Owens

Exuma Cays

The Exuma Cays offer a delightful mix of calm diving conditions and vibrant marine life.

Amberjack Reef: This shallow reef boasts colorful corals and thousands of fish, including angelfish, grouper, and barracuda. Multiple reef sharks also call this reef home. Explore this world of thriving corals in waters that range from 16 to 49 feet (5 to 15 meters) in depth.

Thunderball Grotto: Made famous by James Bond in the film Thunderball, this impressive underwater cave system is a must-visit. This jaw-dropping cave has light filtering in from holes in the ceiling, the sides, and through underwater holes. Numerous fish and vibrant corals are lit up by the sunlight, creating a mesmerizing underwater wonder for snorkelers and divers to enjoy.

And don’t forget the unique opportunity to swim with pigs at Pig Beach on Big Major Cay.

Bahamas

Photo: Forest Simon

Abaco Islands

Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park: This protected area offers easy and calm diving conditions, making it perfect for beginners. Dive into a world teeming with marine life, including colorful corals and playful bottlenose dolphins. The average dive depths here range from 16 to 49 feet (5 to 15 meters), making it accessible for all skill levels.

Long Island

Dean’s Blue Hole: Plunge into the world’s deepest known saltwater blue hole, which reaches depths of over 656 feet (200 meters). It’s a very popular place for freediving, snorkeling, and scuba diving, and boasts water visibility reaching up to 98 feet (30 meters). This unique dive site is home to numerous reef fish, snappers, tarpons, sea turtles, seahorses, and rays.

Grand Bahama Island

Tiger Beach: If you love sharks, make sure you visit Tiger Beach. There you can encounter tiger sharks, lemon sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, and nurse sharks. Dive depths are typically between 20 and 49 feet (6 and 15 meters), and you simply kneel on the sand and watch the shark around you.

Bahamas

Photo: Ryan Geller

Cat Island

Cat Island is a paradise for divers, boasting dozens of dive sites along a reef-laced coast, far from the crowds of more popular destinations.

Columbus Point: Located at the very southeastern tip of Cat Island, this remote spot is best suited for advanced divers. However, if you’re eager to upskill, this site is worth the effort before your trip. Get a Deep Diver and Drift Diver certification under your belt and make sure you have some experience of diving in open waters.

Underwater pinnacles rise up from the ocean floor at Columbus Point, attracting large grouper and impressive sharks. Be prepared for strong currents and depths ranging from 59 to 131 feet (18 to 40 meters). Oceanic whitetip sharks are seasonal visitors and there are large game fish in the blue.

Bahamas

Photo: NOAA

Eleuthera

Current Cut: If you have experienced divers in your group, Current Cut is a must. This dive site is thought to be one of the best drift dives in the world and offers a high-speed dive through a narrow channel with currents that can reach remarkable speeds. The water moves through this channel at up to 10 knots! Diving there is something to aspire to as you get move dives in your log book.

The Bahamas is a haven for scuba divers of all levels, including beginners. With its array of dive sites, there’s no better place to embark on your scuba diving journey. For more information about the Bahamas’ top dive spots, including dive sites reviews, check out this guide to diving in the Bahamas.

Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for SSI (Scuba Schools International), wrote this article.

Scuba Schools International (SSI) is the largest professional business-based training agency in the world. For over 50 years now, SSI has provided the ultimate training experience for millions of certified divers, not only in Recreational Scuba, but in every training category: Freediving, Extended Range, Rebreather Diving, Mermaid, Swim and Lifeguard.

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The BiG Scuba Podcast Episode 180: Dawn Kernagis

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Dawn Kernagis

Gemma and Ian chat to Dawn Kernagis.  Dawn joined DEEP in 2023 as the Director of Scientific Research.   DEEP is an ocean technology and exploration company with a mission to ‘Make Humans Aquatic.’ DEEP’s undersea habitat and submersible systems, combined with multi-phased diver and human performance training, will create the next evolution of subsea science, research, and exploration capabilities.   Dawn is a NASA-trained NEEMO Aquanaut, Explorer’s Club Fellow and Women Divers Hall of Fame Inductee and who is also tasked to establish DEEP’s first US presence in North Carolina.   Dawn has also been a diver with numerous underwater exploration, research, and conservation projects since 1993, including the mapping and record-setting exploration of some of the deepest underwater caves in the world.

https://www.deep.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dawn-kernagis-995383152/

The BiG Scuba Podcast is brought to you by Narked at 90.   “Beyond Technical”   Narked at 90    If you are thinking of moving across to tech diving or completely new to diving, Narked at 90 can advise and guide on the best equipment and set up for your personal or commercial requirements  https://www.narkedat90.com/.  There is currently a code for you to use for purchases and the code is  BIGSCUBA2024.

If you are interested in the INSTA360 action camera we discussed then please click this link:   https://www.insta360.com/sal/x3?utm_term=INRAI8S

We hope you have enjoyed this episode of The BiG Scuba Podcast.  Please give us ★★★★★, leave a review, and tell your friends.   Contact Gemma and Ian with your messages, ideas and feedback via The BiG Scuba Bat Phone    +44 7810 005924   or use our social media platforms.   To keep up to date with the latest news, follow us:

We are on Instagram                     @thebigscuba

We are on Facebook                      @thebigscuba

We are in LinkedIn                          https://www.linkedin.com/in/ian%F0%9F%A6%88-last-325b101b7/

The BiG Scuba Website                  www.thebigscuba.com

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Visit   https://www.patreon.com/thebigscubapodcast and subscribe – Super quick and easy to do and it makes a massive difference. Thank you.

🎧You can listen to the BiG Scuba Podcast on all major podcast platforms including …. iTunes, SoundCloud, Spotify and Stitcher 😀.  ISSN Number 2752-6127

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Creature Feature: Butterfly Rays

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In this series, the Shark Trust will be sharing amazing facts about different species of sharks and what you can do to help protect them.

As we’re currently in butterfly season, this month we decided to concentrate on the Butterfly Rays!

Within the family Gymnuridae, there are two genera and 12 species of Butterfly Ray. These species are morphologically different to lots of other rays because of the width of the disc and pectoral fins – in contrast to many other species of Butterfly Ray, their bodies are much wider than they are long, especially considering their very short tail. This gives them the appearance of gliding or flying across the sand.

Gymnura altavela – Spiny Butterfly Ray

Gymnura australis – Australian Butterfly Ray

Gymnura crebripunctata – Longsnout Butterfly Ray

Gymnura japonica – Japanese Butterfly Ray

Gymnura lessae – Lessa’s Butterfly Ray

Gymnura marmorata – California Butterfly Ray

Gymnura micrura – Smooth Butterfly Ray

Gymnura natalensis – Backwater Butterfly Ray

Gymnura peocilura – Longtail Butterfly Ray

Gymnura sereti – Seret’s Butterfly Ray

Gymnura tentaculata – Tentacled Butterfly Ray

Gymnura zonura – Zonetail Butterfly Ray

Spiny Butterfly Ray, Gymnura altavela. Playa La Granadella, Spain, Mediterranean Sea.

Today we’re taking a look at Gymnura altavela, the Spiny Butterfly Ray. Like all Butterfly Rays, the Spiny Butterfly Ray is a demersal species, meaning it spends the majority of its time on the bottom of the seabed. Butterfly Rays are known for their burying behaviour in the sand, a technique they use to camouflage themselves when they are resting during the day. This protects them from predators, in some areas larger sharks. It also aids them in their ambush hunting technique – by hiding themselves under the sand they are able to easily snatch up their dinner – usually crustaceans, molluscs or other small fish – as they swim by unawares. This behaviour can leave tell-tale butterfly-ray shaped imprints in the bottom of the seabed.

Spiny Butterfly Rays can grow up to 260 cm (disc width (wingspan)), although average is around 200 cm. They give birth to live young, and each litter consists of 1-8 pups. This species has also been found to aggregate, likely for mating. One study found that aggregations of primarily females in the coastal regions off Gran Canaria may correlate with the shifting water temperature.

It is estimated that the species has undergone a population reduction of 50-79% over the last 33 years. This is primarily due to fishing pressure – the Spiny Butterfly Ray is targeted and bycaught in both industrial and artisanal fisheries types using a variety of gear types. The species is now Critically Endangered in the Mediterranean and Southwest Atlantic.

Scientific Name: Gymnura altavela

Family: Gymnuridae

Maximum Size: 260 cm (disc width)

Diet: crabs, shrimps, various invertebrates, fishes, small crustaceans, and molluscs.

Distribution: throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Habitat: muddy and sandy substrates down to 150m.

Conservation status: Critically Endangered in the Mediterranean and Europe, Endangered Globally.

For more great shark information and conservation visit the Shark Trust Website


Banner Image: ©Tomas Willems. Main image: ©Andy Murch

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