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The Bahamas’ Big Easy

Freeport - Grand Bahama Island

Grand Bahama offers all the modern comforts of a big island with unlimited access to easy diving. Grand Bahama, the second most developed Bahamian Island, delivers what every new diver wants: Easy.

‚ÄúThe main thing we offer new divers is easy access to shallow water,‚ÄĚ says Karen Rolle, co-owner of Sunn Odyssey Divers, a PADI 5-Star Dive Center located in the city of Freeport.

When you’re learning to dive, you want everything to be easy: calm seas, water so clear you see the bottom from the dive boat, no currents and reefs just minutes from the dock.

Plus, nothing is extreme here‚ÄĒno steep drop-offs and no currents.

‚ÄúThere are no extreme dive conditions here,‚ÄĚ says Michael Tadros, Manager for the Reef Oasis Dive Club, a PADI 5-Star Dive Center on island. ‚ÄúMost destinations can have extreme conditions, from big waves to long boat rides, and we don‚Äôt have any of that.‚ÄĚ

This is Grand Bahama.

The island is home to a handful of resorts, including Pelican Bay Hotel, a modern property with three onsite pools and a prime location next to one of the island‚Äôs biggest dive operators and PADI 5-Star Dive Center, UNEXSO. There‚Äôs also Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan, an all-inclusive beachfront resort. The Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach, another all-inclusive, offers Reef Oasis Dive Club, a dive centre on site to make for‚ÄĒwhat else‚ÄĒan easy dive trip.

Underwater, find coral reefs spread among a gently sloping sand bottom. As for where new divers can drop in, it’s a big list.

Rolle‚Äôs favourite sites for folks just getting their fins, er, feet wet, include Silver Point Reef, located just 7 minutes by boat from the dock, and Fish Farm, a 20-foot- deep site filled with fish of all sizes‚ÄĒincluding, on one dive last year, a whale shark.

Tadros likes to show beginners the spot known as Rainbow Reef, shallow enough to be a great choice for divers and snorkellers. This site is dense with life, starting with schools of snapper and French grunts. Crabs and lobsters tuck themselves in among the cracks, adding to the experience.

‚ÄúPeople can see every colour possible at this site,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs all there, from the blues and reds of parrotfish, to the yellows of sponges, and even green moray eels.‚ÄĚ

Of course, the island is known, too, for big animals‚ÄĒnamely Caribbean reef sharks and dolphins.

Shark Junction is where dive operator UNEXSO conducts shark feeds. Divers kneel in the sand as anywhere from six to more than a dozen Caribbean reef sharks slowly and calmly interact with a shark handler in this controlled environment. This shark-feed dive is available only to people who have completed their Open Water Diver certification and at least one dive with UNEXSO.

Other scuba operators, including Sunn Odyssey Divers and Reef Oasis Dive Club, don’t conduct shark feeds but do bring divers to this site for nearly guaranteed up-close encounters with the sharks.

‚ÄúNowhere else in the world can you take a Discover Scuba Course and be surrounded by sharks,‚ÄĚ says Tadros.

UNEXSO also offers an experience that only three facilities in the world offer: dolphins are trained to follow the dive boat to a chosen dive site where they then interact with guests.

‚ÄúYou can get hugs underwater with the dolphins‚ÄĒit‚Äôs amazing,‚ÄĚ says Shelly Lazarre, Dive Operations Supervisor for UNEXSO.

‚ÄúIn my 10 years of working at UNEXSO, again and again I hear people say that diving with our dolphins is the best thing they have ever done in their lives,‚ÄĚ she says.

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