We had a great time in the Bahamas.
First the Accomadations; We stayed at the Orange Hill Inn which is a five minute drive from the airport and about 10 minutes to Stuart Cove's dive shop. The inn is an older place that could probably use a coat of paint and another maintenance man, but it was clean and the bed was comfortable, and the price was right. All I do in room is sleep so that is all I require. The people around the inn are very friendly and helpful. The food ranged from basically good to very good. Breakfast the first couple of days were made to order from a small menu, these breakfasts were very good. After that a larger group showed up and the rest of the mornings the breakfast was a small buffet style, which was still good but not as good as the made to order style. We only ate one lunch there as we were diving all day other than our last day when we flew home. The lunch consisted of a bar-b-qued burger-very good. Suppers were great, you just need to be aware that they do not serve supper on Saturday and Wednesday. They have a small menu (that changes every night) to chose from and the food was great. The choices ranged from BBQ ribs and chicken, grouper, pork cutlets, jerk chicken, and sousse(a spicy local soup-really really good).
Now the diving; Stuart Cove's was great. While they have the reputation of being a cattle boat operation, they are very efficient at organizing people and boats. On their website they say that they are busier on the weekends, this is very true. We dove four times a day from Friday to Tuesday. On Friday we had 5 divers in the morning and just my wife and I in the afternoon. Saturday all day and Sunday morning were very full boats, 15-18 divers. On Sunday afternoon we did the shark feed dive and there were only 6 divers. For Monday and Tuesday we had from 5 to 8 divers on every boat. If you have a larger group with a dive trip then Stuart's will send you out with your own boat and dive guide. A big part of what made the trip so much fun was the staff at Stuart Cove's. After diving for 5 days we knew most of the dive staff and boat captains, and they made us feel like one of the gang. Barry, Kalil and Viv get a special mention because they went out of their way to make sure we had a great time.
As far as the diving is concerned I thought the reef was mostly healthy. Some other divers from the resort said there was less fish than the last time they were there, but figured that was due to the lionfish. The coral was in relatively good condition but you did see lots of places where divers with poor boyancy control have kicked or broken coral. There was plenty of fish, you just had to look for some of it. Many of the divers that were on the boat would get in the water, swim like crazy and fin right past things like crabs, lobsters, spotted drums, ballonfish, green morays, flounders and a yellow ray. I always hang back at the end to avoid getting run over by the bicycle kickers, then I can relax, slow down and take my time looking at the reef. Sometimes I get so carried away in looking so closely at the reef that I miss the sharks that my wife said swam right past us. On our last day we found a remora just hanging out by one of the local wrecks. When we swam away the remora decided it wanted to come with. It spent the next 8 or 9 minutes trying find a place to latch onto me. I just spent that time swimming around a large sandy patch just playing and interacting with the remora(highlite of the trip).
I would recommend both the Orange Hill Inn and Stuart Cove's to anyone going to New Providence Island, unless you like the large all inclusive type places, but there are plenty of those in Nassau to choose from
Date-Jan 15 to 21, 2009
Weather-Cloudy the first couple days with highs around 70 F, Sunny with highs around 75 F the rest of the days but ranging from slightly windy to very windy.
Water conditions-temp was a steady 73 F with visability ranging from about 70 feet the first day to 40 to 50 at the end of the week with high winds stirring up the water.