The islands of the Bahamas are known worldwide for their ease of travel, beautiful beaches, and turquoise waters, but only scuba divers on Bahamas liveaboard vacations are able to access everything this incredible destination has to offer. Abundant sharks, amazing reef topographies with swim-throughs, and a huge variety of dive sites draw divers from all over the world.
For the healthiest coral reefs in the country, travelers visit the remote Exuma Cays. Beginning just 38 miles southeast of Nassau and over 170 miles further south, this region comprises 365 islands, hundreds of square miles of gin clear water, and the incredibly healthy Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.
The ease of travel can’t be overstated. Easy and affordable flights to Nassau from the US, Canada, and the UK allow travelers to avoid the stress of travel necessary for many dive destinations. Despite being just a short cruise from Nassau, the Exuma Cays are an exceedingly remote and pristine dive destination. Uninhabited island beaches, clear turquoise waters, and thriving marine ecosystems testify to that unexpected remoteness.
Due to the remote nature of the Exuma Cays, liveaboard diving provides the most comprehensive experience. Many of the best dive sites are out of range for day boats departing from major islands. Relaxing comfortably on a liveaboard makes surface intervals a breeze while traveling between dive sites all over the expansive archipelago.
With over 40 years’ experience, All Star Liveaboards has discovered the best dive spots in the Bahamas. From the budget Blackbeard’s Cruises to the small-group-oriented Cat Ppalu to the luxury Aqua Cat, there are options for all budgets and styles of travel.
The Bahamas is also a top destination for freediving because of the gin-clear waters, light currents and amazing marine life reachable by beginner and experienced freedivers.
Bahamas Diving Highlights
The variety of diving is one of the top reasons to book a dive trip to the Bahamas. Divers can log wall dives, swift drifts, wreck dives, shark dives, dozens of shallow coral reefs, and even the Lost Blue Hole.
Few destinations in the world can offer such an impressive range of dive sites, and even fewer can offer this variety while remaining suitable for divers of all skill levels. Incredible visibility, minimal current (besides the Washing Machine!), simple navigation, and comfortable depths provide a fantastic diving experience for anyone with a certification card.
New divers enjoy the opportunity to improve their skills and confidence underwater, while experienced divers return year after year to explore beautiful reefs in a completely relaxed manner. Underwater photographers love the effortless shooting conditions made possible with crystal-clear water and lack of current.
Year after year, the Bahamas is voted the #1 destination for big animal diving. Divers can experience close encounters with Caribbean reef sharks, hammerheads and tiger sharks. Macro critters are also abundant in the Bahamas. Nudibranchs and tiny crustaceans can be found all over these dive sites if you know where to look.
Shark Diving in the Bahamas
Despite its fame, shark diving in the Bahamas is a relatively new attraction, starting just over 25 years ago. Sharks historically vacated an area when divers arrived, as it is believed that the bubbles released by regulators caused them to keep their distance. Fortunately for divers, sharks in the Bahamas have become accustomed to the bubbles and no longer divert their course.
Caribbean reef sharks are incredibly abundant in the Bahamas, so much so that diving without seeing at least one is unusual. Nurse sharks are also spotted very frequently throughout the Exumas and Eleuthera.
From time to time, lucky divers can spot other species of sharks in the Exuma Cays and Eleuthera, including tiger sharks, hammerheads, lemon sharks, bull sharks, and even the occasional whale shark. In May and June, blacknose sharks can be seen swarming around the Lost Blue Hole outside Nassau.
Passive shark feeding dives, designed to prevent sharks from associating divers with food, attract up to a dozen sharks to be observed in action while feeding on a chumsicle. This passive feeding method simulates a real-world carcass feeding situation with which sharks are familiar. This allows divers in the Bahamas to observe sharks’ feeding behavior safely. The up-close photograph opportunities are thrilling!
Top Dive Sites in the Bahamas
Best Exuma Cays Dive Sites
- Dog Rocks Wall
- Washing Machine
- Austin Smith
- Lost Blue Hole
- Amberjack Reef
- Jeep Reef
- Pillar Wall
- Hammerhead Gulch
- Plane Wreck
- Barracuda Shoals
Best Eleuthera Dive Sites
- Split Coral Head
- Monolith Wall
- Premo Wall
- Cut Through City
- Jakes Hole
- Cobia Cage
- Krakens Lair
When to Dive in the Bahamas
Though the Bahamas is not technically part of the Caribbean, it is often included in the Caribbean region. The subtropical climate of the Bahamas makes for excellent diving all year.
Water temperatures can range from 72°-87° F depending on the time of year. Summertime brings warmer waters and air temperatures. While the winter may be cooler, there is often better visibility.
For shark diving, you can expect to see sharks year-round on nearly every dive. Schooling blacknose sharks descend on the Lost Blue Hole in May and June.
No matter which month you choose, it will be a great time in the Bahamas for a dive vacation.
Bahamas Diving Conditions
Bahamas diving conditions are very easy. Great visibility, minimal currents, and plenty of shallow dive sites make this destination perfect for divers of any skill level. Whether it’s your first dive in the ocean or your 1,000th, you’ll be comfortable underwater in the Exuma Cays.
Water temperatures vary from the low 70s in the winter to the mid/high 80s in the summer. A wetsuit is usually needed in winter, but the cooler water brings increased visibility.
All diving is done directly from the liveaboard. Surface conditions can sometimes be choppy, but taking gear off in the water and handing it to the crew makes climbing the ladder more manageable.
Underwater Photography in the Bahamas
Sharks are usually the main attraction for underwater photographers visiting the Bahamas, so a wide-angle lens is a must. Thanks to the Exuma Cays’ seemingly endless visibility, wide-angle shots come out beautifully clear, even from a distance. Turtles, eagle rays, and spectacular reef topographies are among the many excellent photo subjects frequently encountered in the Bahamas.
Nudibranchs and other macro critters are also popular subjects. Due to the lack of current, it’s easy to settle in and take the time to capture that perfect macro shot without fighting to hold a position on the reef.
How to Travel to the Bahamas
The Bahamas is among the easiest-to-reach dive destinations in the Caribbean and Atlantic. Travelers can find non-stop flights into Nassau Airport (NAS) from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, JFK, LaGuardia, D.C., Charlotte, Houston, Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto, London and others.
Bahamas' Exuma Cays Shore Excursions
The 365 islands of the Exuma Cays are full of topside adventures. From beautiful beaches void of footprints to partially submerged caves to islands full of swimming pigs, travelers in the Exumas have plenty to experience beyond diving.
You can read our blog post about the best shore excursions in the Exuma Cays to learn more about specific adventures offered in the area.
Travelers visiting the Bahamas aboard Aqua Cat have daily opportunities to experience exciting shore excursions and non-diving water activities like paddleboarding or kayaking. Blackbeard’s and Cat Ppalu also provide trips to shore when possible. Full charters aboard Cat Ppalu offer extra flexibility for fitting in more excursions for groups who like a mixture of dives and topside adventures.
- A 7-night luxury scuba diving liveaboard trip
- Trips depart Nassau, Bahamas, with travel to the Exuma Cays and Eleuthera
- Dive sites are only accessible by scuba diving liveaboards
- 26 dives with 4-night dives
- A great variety of diving – walls, drift, reef, blue hole and shark dives
- An underwater photographer / videographer captures your dive
- Dive instruction, rental equipment and checkouts
- Large cabins with private bathrooms and 2 large oceanview windows
- Gourmet dining
- Shore excursions and eco adventures: hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, tubing and kneeboarding
- Port night in Nassau, Bahamas
- Experienced multilingual crew
- Spacious dive deck with showers and toilet
From $2,595 all-inclusive
- Most popular 6-night dive liveaboard trips
- Great price – Only $1,065 per week
- Two sailing and diving liveaboards – Sea Explorer and Morning Star
- Great first-time and veteran diver experience
- Trips depart Nassau, Bahamas
- Camping-on-water – make friends for life
- Bunks with AC and privacy curtains; shared bathrooms
- The Exuma Cays have a great variety of diving opportunities
- 19 dives with night dives and shark dive
- Dive discovery program, instruction, equipment and checkouts
- See and learn about underwater species
- Awesome drift and shark dives, reefs, wrecks, deep blue hole, and a great variety of diving
- Eco adventures: snorkel, fish, feed iguanas …
- Experienced captain and crew
- Scouting programs
From $1,065 all-inclusive
- Sail the Bahamas on a 6-night sailing catamaran liveaboard diving cruise
- Designed for private group yacht charters for up to 12 in 6 cabins– families and friends groups with departures from Nassau, Bahamas
- Only dive liveaboards visit Exuma Cays dive sites
- Itinerary includes 19 dives with night dives
- Dive instruction, discovery program, equipment rental and check-outs
- Reefs, wrecks, undersea gardens, deep blue hole, drift and shark dives
- B&B-style lodging with shared baths and showers
- Eco adventures – SUPs, kayaks, snorkeling, fishing
- Shore excursions to Land and Sea Park, uninhabited islands, hiking
- Experienced captain and crew
- Citizen Scientist program – select dates
From $1,795 per person
Full and half boat yacht charters