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A Beginner’s Guide to Snorkeling in the Bahamas

This popular Caribbean destination isn’t all about big resorts and casinos, as the underwater attractions might be the best part.

May 13, 2020
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Abacos
Abundant coral makes the Abacos a prime snorkeling spot. Shutterstock

With over 700 islands to choose from, picking the “best” snorkeling spots in all of the Bahamas is no easy chore. We compromised by highlighting the best options in a number of popular Bahamian destinations, so that you’ll have a jumping-off point for the first of many incredible snorkeling and diving adventures.

Eleuthera

Eleuthera has far more to offer than idyllic pink shores if you dip below the surface. A dozen sites on the island are worthy (Glass Window Bridge and Pineapple Dock wrecks are a tropical nursery for juvenile fish), but perhaps none so unique as Current Cut. As the name suggests, the current here is not for the feint of heart.

In fact, this little snorkel adventure will whip you through so quickly you can plan on venturing on the “rollercoaster” three or four times to get your fill. One might assume the novelty of the tidal is the only draw, but numerous larger sea life spotting scores can be had with turtles, spotted eagle rays, southern stingrays, reef sharks, large fish like tarpon and barracuda also along for the ride.

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In the lull of the shallows you can spot octopi, myriad corals and small reef fish. The tides are tricky, as the Atlantic and Caribbean fight for dominance. Unless you have a strong understanding of the ocean and an up to date tidal chart, connecting with a local guide is safest (Foster Neilly comes highly recommended).

Exumas

Exumas
The Exumas are perhaps best known for swimming pigs, but there are plenty of creatures to see underwater, too. Shutterstock

Blue holes, undersea caves, colorful coral and sea fan gardens are a few features of this Southern Bahamian island chain’s snorkel sites. Across from the main harbor of George Town lies long, thin barrier Stocking Island on the Atlantic. This water taxi-accessible beach has reefs to the right of famous Chat-n-Chill conch shack that offer great snorkel opps for those who come toting gear. (Right below the hole in the wall’s dock is a large family of resident stingrays more than willing to be friendly in the hopes of a conch scrap handout.)

Tucked around the corals and sponges of the reef are turtles, stingrays and larger eating fish less often spotted in the mellow Caribbean Sea.

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Long Island

This truly charming, sleepy little island’s shallow bays and sandy beaches offer many possibilities for snorkeling. Watersport staff at the resorts can offer recommendations for local reef opps, but another intriguing spot beckons the adventurous spirit.

Dean’s Blue Hole is considered the deepest blue hole in the world. At 663-feet deep, it plays host to “Vertical Blue,” an annual free diving international competition. The platform in the center of the 100-foot diameter hole is connected to free diving equipment noting the depth. What is most intriguing, other than cliff diving along its upper edges or floating in the deep blue water, is that the hole has an inner ledge 60-feet underwater that then opens into a very large, deep cavern.

When there are visitors enjoying the beach, the fine white sand shifts from their movement even hundreds of feet away, which actually creates underwater “waterfalls” over this ledge visible to snorkelers above.

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San Salvador

San Salvador
San Salvador is a calm, cool spot that is great for inexperienced snorkelers or simply anyone who wants to watch from the beach. Shutterstock

Thanks to this island’s snorkel site locations, on the protected lee side, visitors looking for a calm environment for beginners or young kids will find ideal conditions. Many of the key sites (Bamboo Point, Fernandez Bay and Long Bay) are also located close to the main town for easy access.

A favorite for its pristine curve of beach and bright aqua water is Grotto Bay. Not only can snorkelers enjoy spotting a virtual juvenile fish nursery, stoplight parrotfish, white-spotted filefish and queen triggers in the patch coral reef, but if they time it right, they can wrap up their adventure with a dramatic sunset.

Abacos

Another impressive set of Out Islands, complete with an equally impressive set of snorkel sites—Smuggler’s Rest with its upright plane wreck and Spanish Cannon, a sunken galleon with a sprinkling of cannonballs along the ballast stones for added bang for your buck, to name a couple.

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The Abacos are a 20-mile-long island chain within the greater Bahamas archipelago with abundant coral, swim-through arches and caves, and excellent walls and drop-offs. Water temps are mid-80′s year-round and clean, clear waters lap at white sand beaches. Unfortunately, these islands were hit hardest by Hurricane Dorian so we are awaiting updates on when resorts and tourism venues will fully reopen.

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