Snorkeling & Family Diving
Snorkeling The Bahamas
Today, more and more people are rediscovering the simple joys of snorkeling and free diving, and it's hard to think of any destination more capable of satisfying everyone, from the casual snorkeler to the serious free diver, than The Bahamas. The reasons are numerous. Let's start with the very quality of the water. An unmatched clarity combines with a striking spectrum of blues to create a highly attractive picture. The shallows sparkle with aquamarine and azure highlights bouncing off the white sand bottom. This gorgeous water is a shining blanket overlaying thousands of square miles of lush coral reefs. Virtually every professional dive operator offers dedicated snorkeling trips, so the questions come down to these: What style of snorkel adventures do you want, and where do you want to go? In The Bahamas, every single island is surrounded by shallow reefs, many of which reach to within a few feet of the surface. Farther out, this same theme continues, with tens of thousands of shallow water sites on the banks peppered with coral heads and reefs.
In The Abacos, off the east side of the Little Bahamas Bank, the primary reef structures are seldom deeper than 30 to 40 feet. There are open cavern systems and excellent shallow wrecks. Bordering the north edge of Eleuthera is the infamous Devil's Backbone, a jagged line of shallow reef that has come as an unwelcome surprise to many mariners. Today it is a treasure for snorkelers. It offers tons of fish, lots of other marine life and a fascinating glimpse into history. Off the west side of Eleuthera is one of the most distinctive snorkel sites in The Bahamas—Current Cut. Here, a relatively narrow cut runs from the bank to the outer waters. The current streams through this cut, creating a perfect feeding ground for marine animals. Harbour Island, off the east side, shares some fine reef structures.
South of Eleuthera is Cat Island, home to Dry Heads, one of the healthiest shallow reefs in the islands. Long Island offers a huge number of snorkeling possibilities. Shallow reefs are found right offshore, as well as at boat-accessible sites. The Exumas have some of the thickest concentrations of shallow reefs in The Bahamas, as well as shallow blue holes.
Bimini features fine shallow reefs, one great shallow wreck, the Sapona, and big animal experiences. Then there are the islands of the Bimini chain to the south and The Berry Islands (particularly Chub Cay) to the north of Bimini. There is excellent snorkeling off San Salvador, too. Snorkelers can also get in on The Bahamas dolphin and shark action. It's the same in the southern Bimini chain, near Orange Cay. These areas are both live-aboard territory. Just north of Bimini, a pod of resident Spotted Dolphins is making itself accessible on an almost daily basis. The islands of New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport), offer tremendous snorkeling opportunities along with an infrastructure that makes access a breeze. One not-to-be-missed adventure is the Dolphin Experience. Visitors have a choice of snorkeling either in an inland bay or in the open ocean with tame dolphins.
Andros is also popular with snorkelers, offering shallow reefs, glimpses over the deep wall, inland blue holes and occasional dolphin encounters. This has been just a taste of the snorkeling opportunities available in The Bahamas.
On New Providence, there are numerous famous reefs on both the Northeast and Southwest sides of the island for snorkeling. A very popular snorkeling attraction is the Stuart Cove Shark Snorkeling Adventure, where snorkelers can actually swim with wild sharks! An amazing and fun family activity you will never forget.
The Bahamas is perfect for family adventure vacations! Here are 10 good reasons why.
1. Lifetime Family Adventures
The Bahamas is a great place to discover the wonders of the ocean with your children. You can find adventures here that will provide a lifetime of inspiration and open new horizons for young minds.
2. Safe Environment
In The Bahamas, you can relax on the beach without the worry of unwelcome solicitations or dangerous surf. The only protection you will need will be from the tropical sun.
3. Alternate Activities
Only adults seem content with the eat, sleep and dive routine. Kids need a whole lot more to be happy. Fortunately, The Bahamas topside is just as much fun as The Bahamas underwater. You'll find family fun in kayaks, personal watercraft, sail boats, fishing trips and harbor tours. Ashore, you can rent bicycles, hike, catch a show, listen to live music, eat at waterfront restaurants or even get your hair braided. In Nassau and Freeport, children's activities rival many theme parks, but with a distinctly island style.
Where to go for Family Diving
There are many options for family diving in The Bahamas. To find out more, contact any of the Bahamas Diving Association members in our listings.
4. Easy Access
One of the beauties of The Bahamas for family vacations is simply the convenience. Access is easy from almost anywhere and birth certificates with a photo ID are accepted for entry in lieu of passports. Bahamas dollars and US dollars are interchangeable and the electricity is the good old 110 volt standard. Hotels are nice, but larger families need more than one bedroom. That's when the choice of two-, three- or even four-bedroom bungalows, offered by many Bahamas resorts, makes perfect sense.
5. Family Discounts
Remember how cheap it was to travel BTK? Now, even a family night at the movies can run into three figures. Fortunately, family packages and discounts abound in The Bahamas. Just a few of the islands with operations catering to families include Andros, The Abacos, Bimini, The Exumas, Grand Bahama Island, Long Island and New Providence. Liveaboards also offer family discounts.
6. Baby-sitting Services
It's ironic, but one of the pleasures of vacationing with your children is getting away from them for awhile. That's easy in The Bahamas, where many resorts offer baby-sitting services. The cost of the service is modest, in some cases even complimentary.
7. New Skills
If you've been thinking that a dive vacation would be the perfect time to introduce your child to your favorite sport, The Bahamas are an excellent choice. Instruction is easy to set up wherever you go in The Bahamas, including every specialty course but ice diving. Resort scuba courses are available everywhere in the islands.
8. Child Friendly Staff
Kids have more fun, and their parents relax more, when the staff members know how to put them at ease. Bahamas dive operators take a special delight in sharing the beauty of their islands and their ocean with children. In addition, many of the resorts and operations are owned and operated by families with children of their own, so they have a first-hand knowledge of children's needs.
9. Old Standbys The Bahamas can also deliver the old familiar standbys. Got to have a brand name burger or pizza? No problem on New Providence or Grand Bahama Island. Miss that special TV show? Cable or satellite TV is commonly available throughout the islands. Kids can't live without the Internet? The Bahamas are plugged in. Some days all you need for family fun is a pool and Bahama sunshine.
10. Year-round Fun
One of the best things about a family dive trip to The Bahamas is that you can take it anytime. When the driveway is knee-deep in snow, the sun is shining and the water is warm in The Bahamas. If you have to travel in the summer when the kids are out of school, well the sun is still shining and the water is still warm. Come on over!