this island chain for sheer diversity, from outrageous walls to high-octane animal encounters. Since the early days of scuba, New Providence and Grand Bahama have been on the A-list of dive destinations. As the sport evolved, so did the islands, which now offer an array of specialty dive programs. Name your adventures: shark feeding dives, dolphin dives, wreck dives, diving with military-inspired rebreathers, riding underwater scooters, and diving in flooded inland and ocean caverns called blue holes. And did we mention the reef? With lots of shallow sites for beginners and (off New Providence) a deep wall for advanced divers, these islands offer something for every diver.
Thanks to New Providence's fortunate location at the north end of the Great Bahama Bank, its dive sites are unsurpassed. The Tongue of the Ocean, a deep oceanic trench that drops to 6,000 feet and extends to the south for more than 100 miles, wraps around the western side of New Providence, providing mile after mile of stunning wall dives. The island also offers easily accessible shallow reefs and an armada of wrecks on both its northern and southwestern sides.
Grand Bahama Island is commonly known by the name of its major city, Freeport. The island is much larger than New Providence, but significantly less populated. While the walls bordering the island's south coast are accessible to casual divers, depths can exceed recreational limits. Most diving is done on shallow- to medium-depth reefs, where several excellent wrecks are found.
Beyond New Providence and Grand Bahama islands is the true heart of the Bahamas, the tranquil Out Islands. The Out Islands are not unexplored, but many are so remote that they feel that way. For divers, these islands offer one superlative after another. The hardest part is choosing where to go: From the shallow sunlit coral gardens of the Abacos to the deep drop-offs of the Biminis and San Salvador to the world-famous Shark Rodeo at Walker's Cay.
From December to May, temperatures average 60 to 75 degrees, while summer temperatures average 80 to 85 degrees.
Winter water temps drop to the 70s, while summer temps peak in the high 80s. Calm seas year-round, except during winter storms.
Visibility averages 80 to 100 feet.
The Bahamian dollar is equal in value to the U.S. dollar and the two are used interchangeably. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are accepted by most hotels and dive shops.
Eastern Standard. Daylight saving time is observed from March to November.
120 volts, 60 cycles. U.S. appliances are compatible.
U.S. residents need a passport, plus a return or ongoing ticket. Keep your immigration form; you’ll need it when you depart.
$15 from New Providence; $18 from Grand Bahama.
Bahamas Diving Association, www.bahamasdiving.com, Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas, www.stuartcove.com.