Scuba Diving Grand Bahama Island
A mecca for scuba divers, fabulous reefs and walls, sharks, blue holes & shipwrecks.
Grand Bahama is the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas, and the closest major island to the United States, lying 56 mi off the state of Florida. It is the fourth largest island in the Bahamas island chain
On Grand Bahama Island, you can combine a glamorous vacation at an upscale resort with the charming allure of a small town. Boasting one of the world’s largest underwater cave systems, three national parks, endless beaches and crisp blue water, Grand Bahama Island has it all.
Some of the island’s settlements, such as Pinder’s Point, Russell Town, Smith’s Point and William’s Town, are named after the former families who founded them. Today, these settlements serve as cultural hot spots for visitors.
The East End is Grand Bahama’s “back-to-nature” side, where Caribbean yellow pine–and-palmetto forest stretches for 60 miles, interrupted by the occasional small settlement. Little seaside villages with white churches and concrete-block houses painted in bright pastels fill in the landscape between Freeport and West End. Many of these settlements are more than 100 years old.
Lucayan National Park is the only place in the Bahamas where you can see all six of the island’s ecosystems. There are caves for exploration (including one of the longest underwater limestone caves in the world; access is seasonal as the caves are also used for bat conservation), a picturesque wooden bridge over a mangrove swamp, and a beautiful white beach with benches available for picnics.
While you visit Grand Bahama, you must try conch. Conch is a quint essentially Bahamian food served in various forms. Island favorites include: conch salad, infused with citrus and served cold; cracked conch, tenderized and lightly batter-fried; and conch fritters, small balls of deep-fried batter mixed with minced conch and served with dipping sauce.
SCUBA DIVING GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND
Grand Bahama Island’s reputation as a diver’s paradise has been growing ever since the earliest episodes of Sea Hunt were filmed there in the late 1950s.
It is blessed with unique features that have created diverse dive sites of great beauty. A broad shallow bank extends offshore bordered by a shallow barrier reef. The reef is followed by a gradual drop-off that slowly descends in a stepwise fashion to a vertical wall plunging from two hundred to two thousand feet. The shallow waters provide food that supports a fascinating reef population, while the influx of clear water from the deep, virtually guarantees incredible visibility.
Grand Bahama is a mecca for scuba divers, lured here by the specialty attractions of dolphin dives, shark dives and notable shipwrecks, in addition to the standard Bahamas attractions of fabulous reefs and walls. It is one of the only places in the world where you can interact, swim and dive with trained, captive dolphins in the open ocean.
The second largest underwater cave system in the world, with over 32,000 feet of mapped tunnels is also located here. For the fully certified cave diver, this is a must see destination. For the rest of us, there are several large caverns at the entrance to these caves in which we are still able to dive.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE SITES
Sea Star II – Steel Barge sitting upright on ocean floor. Penetration is easy through open deck. Approximate length is 200 feet with average depth of 65 feet. Even though it is a relatively new wreck, you will find an array of local fish; such as barracuda, amberjack, snappers, groupers and an occasional turtle or shark!
Silver Point – This is one of the most beautiful shallow reefs that can be enjoyed by divers with cameras as well as snorkelers! Here you will find tall Staghorn, Elkhorn, Brain and Star coral with schools of grunts, snappers, parrotfish, angelfish, as well as many other types of marine life. You never know what you are going to see on this site.
Theo’s Wreck – The most famous wreck on Grand Bahama. It is perched on its port side with its stern looming over the continental shelf! You get the feeling that you are looking into an abyss! This wreck was sunk in 1982. If you are lucky, you may spot the 500 lb Goliath Grouper that can sometimes be seen lurking around the deeper side of the wreck.
Pygmy Caves – Nicknamed tunnels because of the high coral formations that run perpendicular to shoreline with overlapping ceilings; thus the name Pygmy Caves or Tunnels. Marine life seen there are schools of horse eye Jacks, snappers large groupers, spotted eagle rays and sharks!
Eden Banks – If you’re looking for a lush Garden of soft healthy coral, this is site you should visit. Stingrays, large snappers, grunts, surrounded by scattered coral.
Shark Encounter – Divers swim with Caribbean reef sharks and interact with them in their natural state! The sharks are four to eight feet and at times can be too numerous to count. The location is near an old Recompression Chamber with coral reef surrounding it. There are also large green moray eels, groupers, Hogfish and Angel fish. There is the occasional nurse or hammerhead shark coming around to find out just what is going on!
Moray Manor – Known for lots of green moray in the ’70s, some can still be seen, as well as sharks. Very good selection of marine life. The coral travels perpendicular to the shore, growing up to 10 ft. high, with heather coral in this area.
Ben’s Cavern – This inland blue hole is a national preserve and open to only four divers at a time. A little scheduling will pay off as you watch sunlight dapple the water to play off stalactite formations, fossilized coral and glow-through crystal columns. Mango snapper, mosquito fish and blue crabs are among the mix of curious fresh and saltwater sea life in a truly unique site.
Little Hale’s Lair – Slopping coral formations with lots of marine life. It is a chimney like formed hole from top to bottom, great swim through. Groupers, Snappers, Grunts, and the occasional hammerhead may show up.
Jose’s Wreck – Bridging the gap between two large coral head formations, Joe’s Wreck is a forty-foot-long former tugboat that is now being reclaimed by the underwater environment. Because of its elevated position, divers can maneuver beneath this sunken craft. This wreck is located at an intermediate depth. Crustaceans, such as Spiny Lobsters and Crabs may scuttle from between the nooks of the reef. During the winter months, you may be delighted to view a swarm of Tiger Groupers.
La Rose Wreck – One of the more recently scuttled wrecks in the region, La Rose is an advanced dive that lies near the fabled Moray Manor reef dive site. This stripped carcass of this triple-decked tug was intentionally sunk by UNEXSO a few years ago. Resting in approximately one hundred feet of water, this tugboat offers penetration for advanced divers. The proximity of this shipwreck to the thriving Moray Manor site makes this a great all-around dive locale.
Etheridge Wreck – This ferryboat once transported tourists in the Carolinas. Resting at a manageable depth for novice divers, this site is home to a smattering of coral heads. Swarms of fish, such as Silversides, Snappers, Shad, Schoolmasters, and Groupers, use this structure as shelter. Cleaned, stripped, and intentionally sunk in the early Nineties, this vessel has a place in cinematic history – it served as the setting for a movie in the Halloween series.
Papa Doc Wreck – Unlike some of the other popular shipwreck sites near Freeport and Grand Bahama Island, this seventy-foot vessel sank during a violent storm and rough seas. Once a shrimp boat, this doomed craft was transporting mercenaries and firearms to Haiti during the revolution in that country. The wreck’s namesake was the dictator, Papa Doc Duvalier, who was so ruthless that he inspired an uprising. Divers can still salvage ammunition on the sea floor and amongst the coral. This wreck rests in pieces along the shallow reef, with engine blocks and machinery still visible at this novice-accessible dive site.
Pretender Wreck – This upside down tug sits at an approachable depth for divers of all levels of experience. This forty-five foot vessel, the Pretender, rests on the sea floor between two heads of coral. Remnants of a yacht are also strewn about this site as well. Stingrays are often seen gliding along the sandy bottom.
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