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The Diving and Cultural Capital of The Bahamas


New Providence, aka Nassau, keeps the action happening both underwater with reefs, wrecks and shark dives and topside with casinos and nightlife.

The hub of The Bahamas, the island of New Providence‚ÄĒhome to capital city Nassau‚ÄĒoffers it all, from casinos and nightclubs to shopping and big-name restaurants. Plus, it‚Äôs the easiest island for most American travelers to reach, thanks to nonstop flights from Atlanta, Baltimore-Washington, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Miami, New York City and a handful of other major cities.

For divers, New Providence delivers healthy coral reefs, shark action, loads of wrecks and a wealth of other underwater experiences to get a taste of what diving is all about.

One of the most established dive centers on island is Stuart Cove‚Äôs Dive Bahamas, a PADI 5-Star Dive Center known for its daily dive trips, its work with Hollywood filmmakers and its shark dives, offered since 1985.

New Providence is home to plenty of thrills, from wall diving to shark encounters, which newer divers can certainly experience‚ÄĒbut first, it‚Äôs recommended to start shallow and build confidence in the new environment and with the gear.

‚ÄúOur best site for first-timers is Goulding Cay where corals start in 25 feet of water and come up to the surface,‚ÄĚ says Stuart Cove, owner of the Stuart Cove‚Äôs Dive Bahamas.

The shallow waters of Goulding Cay not only help remove much of the intimidation factor, but they also allow for longer bottom times as divers consume less of the air in their tank the shallower they are.

That means plenty of time to explore alongside the instructor.

Which is good news, says Cove, because ‚Äúthere are acres and acres of coral.‚ÄĚ

Another favourite site is Porpoise Bends Reef, which is where the trainers for the TV show ‚ÄúFlipper‚ÄĚ kept the bottlenose dolphins between takes.

After a few shallow reef dives, people can take on bigger adventures.

‚ÄúLuckily, where we do our shark dive is just 35 feet deep, and it has a bit of a wall,‚ÄĚ says Cove.

Anyone trying scuba for the first time or learning to dive has to stay in depths 40 feet and shallower to stay safe by PADI scuba diving standards‚ÄĒbut shallow does not mean boring.

Stuart Cove‚Äôs conducts their shark feeds at a site called Runway Wall, where Caribbean reef sharks are regulars, alongside Nassau grouper and rivers of blueheaded wrasses and French grunts flowing over coral heads. For both newer and more experienced divers, this is such a memorable ‚ÄĚwow‚ÄĚ experience to be in the water just a few feet away from sharks 9 feet in length and longer.

Another PADI 5-Star Dive Resort in Nassau is Sandals Royal Bahamian, an all-inclusive adults-only property. This high-end property offers a dive centre on site. Plus, dive certification courses are offered daily, making it easy to earn an Open Water Diver card. The Sandals brand is such a trusted brand for scuba instruction, certifying 19,000 divers a year across their 17 resorts.

New Providence, in particular, has a lot to offer newer divers.

‚ÄúThe underwater world here is just amazing,‚ÄĚ says Michael Clark, Corporate Director of Watersports for Sandals Resorts. Clark has been a scuba guide in The Bahamas for 35 years, and an instructor for 19 and knows the local reefs intimately.

‚ÄúThe water is so beautiful and turquoise, and the sites are so close to the resort,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs all right there‚ÄĒeasy in, easy out.‚ÄĚ

Sandals takes newer divers to a mix of 10 different sites, which allows most guests to not see the same site twice if staying a week (keeping in mind that after several days of diving, it’s recommended to avoid being underwater at least 12 hours before flying).

Another feature of New Providence is that dive sites can be found on two sides of the island. This means that if winds come in from one direction, the dive boat still goes out and the diving continues.

Because, after all, that‚Äôs why you‚Äôve come‚ÄĒto be in the water and experience firsthand everything that is amazing about the underwater world.

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