Diving Nassau

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Nassau, Bahamas

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Country: Bahamas  Area: Bahamas

Water Temp: 24 - 31°C (75 - 88°F)

Visibility: 24 - 30m (79 - 98 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 27m (16 - 89 ft)

Lobster March

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Turquoise water, soft powdery white sand beaches, world-class casinos, duty free shopping, and succulent seafood draw hundreds of thousands to Nassau, Bahamas every year.  The Bahamian capital and tourist hot spot is located on New Providence Island, 290km (156 miles) southeast of Miami, Florida. 

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During the seventeenth century, Nassau was the home of a ‘Privateer’s Republic’.  Edward Teach, alias ‘Blackbeard’ took over the job of town magistrate.  Many infamous pirates, including Anne Bonney, Mary Read, and Calico Jack Rackham, made Nassau their home base.

After England banned the slave trade in the early 1800s, royal navy ships started intercepting slave ships in route to America.  The West Africans were set free in Nassau.  Their descendants make up a large percentage of the population today.

During prohibition, Nassau ran a wildly successful liquor smuggling business.  The people of the Bahamas have always had a very independent spirit.  They like to make their own rules.  They are also a warm and welcoming people with a rich culture.  Their smiles can lift the spirit and their laid-back lifestyle and focus on family reminds us of what is truly important.

Nassau Coral Credit

Marine Conservation

The Bahamas National Trust, a non-profit organization that manages the island nation’s 27 national parks, is headquartered in Nassau.  Since the early 1950’s, many MPAs (marine protected areas) have been established in the effort to protect the coral reefs and keep fish populations healthy.

Other non-profit organizations like The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF), The Nature Conservancy, The Creator’s Project, and Mission Blue are making great strides in marine conservation through scientific monitoring, habitat restoration projects, invasive species removal, and educational outreach. 

Many global volunteer organizations provide opportunities to get a hands-on, fins-on experience in on-going conservation projects.

Climate

Nassau has a subtropical climate with an average of 340 days of sunshine during the year.  The ocean breezes moderate the humidity.  From December through May, air temperatures are 18°C - 25°C (65°F - 77°F).  From June through August, they are 24°C - 33°C (75°F - 91°F).  The waters are warm and generally calm throughout the year.  The dive season is year round.  Even in the rainy season, the water is crystal clear.  This amazing visibility is due to virtually no runoff from the land, whose porous limestone absorbs nearly all precipitation.

Hurricane season is from June through November, although the likelihood of a storm is greatest from August through November.

 
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The Diving

Nassau sits along the edge of the ‘Tongue of the Ocean’,  a deep ocean trench that runs between Andros and New Providence, in crystal clear waters.  The ‘Tongue of the Ocean’ drops off to a staggering 2,000m (6,600ft.).  The sheer wall and deep water provide adrenaline packed diving.

On the south and east of the island are miles and miles of shallow water peppered with shipwrecks and coral reefs.

Over the last twenty years, many ships have been strategically sunk to serve as artificial reef, making Nassau the unofficial artificial reef capital in the Bahamas.  One dive site, the Steel Forest, has three wrecks positioned side-by-side 26m (85ft.) deep.  Here, you are likely to see grouper, barracuda and moray eels.  Numbers of small colourful reef fish have declined here because of the exploding lionfish population.  Native to the Indo-Pacific, this invasive species has spread across the Caribbean and up the east coast of the United States.

 

Reef Sharks, Goliath Groupers and Nassau Groupers attack a bait ball Credit

Many of the wrecks around Nassau were sunk for use as a movie set.  Experience a bit of movie history when you dive the Bond Wrecks.  Resting on the bottom is the shipwreck, “Tears of Allah”, used in the James Bond movie “Never Say Never Again” and the “Thunderball” airplane wreck used in the movie “Thunderball”.  Parrotfish, snapper, nurse sharks and schools of thousands of silversides make these wrecks their home.

A twin Cessna airplane used in the movie “Jaws IV, The Revenge” sits in 14m (45ft.) of water, close to the nearby Nari Nari Reef.  A variety of hard and soft corals, turtles, eagle rays, and the occasional Hammerhead shark can be seen here.  At the base of the Nari Nari Reef sits an abandoned shark cage.

The Creators’ Project is a partnership between Intel and VICE (world’s top youth media company).  Their mission is to “celebrate visionary artists across multiple disciplines who are using technology in innovative ways to push the boundaries of creative expression”.  Through a joint effort with The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF), the Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden was created.  The biggest underwater sculpture on earth, Jason deClaires Taylor’s 60 ton ‘Bahamian Ocean Atlas’ was installed in October, 2014.  The statue joins Andret John’s ‘Lucayan Faces’ and Willicey Tynes’ ‘Virtuoso Man’.

A Nassau Grouper Credit

The Elkhorn Gardens is a dive site that was used in the filming of “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea”.  With a maximum depth of 25m (82ft.), the gardens are filled with elkhorn, star, and brain coral; purple tube sponges, orange elephant ear sponges, sea fans, and gorgonians; angelfish, grouper, snapper and masses of colourful reef fish; turtles, Caribbean reef sharks, and morays.  This site is a photographers delight.

The Lost Blue Hole lays 16km (10 miles) east of Nassau, at a depth of 12m (40ft.).  The hole is approximately 30m (100ft.) across and 91m (300ft.) deep.  Coral heads wrap around the entire perimeter.  The sheltered walls of the crater provide habitat to sea turtles, Nassau grouper, Caribbean reef sharks and schools of French angelfish.

Shark Dives have become such a popular experience that most dive shops offer one or more of these thrilling dives.

The “March of the Spiny Lobster” is one of the oceans most spectacular migrations.  In response to the first polar storm front of the fall, lobsters leave their ledges and overhangs, emerging by the thousands to march single file toward deeper water.  Each lobster protects the one in front of it, and in this way, they march for days.  Seemingly oblivious or fearless, they will march right over the top of a diver who lies down in their path

Nassau is the point of departure for many of the live aboard dive trips in the Bahamas.  The live aboard vessels typically head out to the Exumas, Bimini, Andros, Grand Bahama, and the Berries.

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How to Get there

The Lynden Pindling International Airport, the largest in the islands, is served by most major commercial airlines as well as being a major hub for Bahamasair.  A number of small aircraft charter services are also available.  There is currently no public transport available at the airport.  Taxis can take you the 16km (9.0 miles) into Nassau.

Prince George Wharf, the main port in Nassau, serves as the receiving port for cruise ships, a very popular way to visit Nassau.  The port can accommodate up to seven cruise ships at a time.

 

A solitary Ocean Trigger Fish Credit

Water taxis are a great way to get around Nassau and take of tour of the island at the same time.

Rental cars are available through most major car rental agencies.  Remember, British driving rules apply (stay to the left) and the Bahamian people drive with wild abandon.  For this reason, bicycle rental is not a good idea.

Jitneys (mini-buses) make up the public transportation system.  Inexpensive and inconvenient, they provide a glimpse of the authentic local culture.  The jitneys stop operating by 7pm.

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Where to Eat & Drink

The majority of restaurants, bars and nightclubs can be found on Paradise Island.  From a quick snack to fine dining, from casual alfresco to buffet style for the whole family, Nassau Paradise Island has it all. 

Arawak Cay, on the north shore of Providence Island is the home of a community of locals who specialize in conch dishes.  Called The Fish Fry, this string of brightly colored restaurants is the perfect place to grab a snack or lunch, experience authentic Bahamian cuisine, and get to know the locals.

For contemporary Mediterranean-influenced cuisine in a romantic setting, try the Courtyard Terrace.  Graycliff Restaurant, the first five-star restaurant in the islands, boasts an award-winning wine cellar and internationally celebrated chef.  For a taste of southern Italy infused with Bahamian, try Casa D’Angelo in the Atlantis resort.

Anthony’s Grill, The Clubhouse at the Ocean Club Golf Course, the O’Grille and the Point Restaurant and Bar are just a few of the casual dining options.  The Mosaic and Seagrapes, both at the Atlantis resort, serve extensive buffets featuring cuisines from around the world.

The Atlantis Casino is the Caribbean’s largest, 18,288 sq. km (60,000 sq. ft.) of table games, tournaments, slot machines, and other gaming experiences.  At the top of the grand staircase, The Aura, an upscale, glass-floor dance club is all about decadent luxury and entertainment.

Fun opportunities exist outside of the Atlantis Resort, as well.  Try a fresh fruit daiquiri at The Daiquiri Shack, dance the night away at Bambu, or stop by Sharkeez Tiki Bar for a late night snack, cold drink and a bit of people watching.

 

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Other Activities

Dolphin encounters, sightseeing and fishing charters, sailing charters, parasailing, and seaplane tours are popular activities in and around the water.  On land in Nassau, you will find beautiful beaches, gardens full of lush tropical plants, museums, historical ruins, art galleries, cathedrals, a monastery, and a large variety of shopping options.

For a bird’s eye view of all the beauty that is the Bahamas, try parasailing.  This visually sublime experience feels as though you are floating on air.

Imagine stepping onto the beach of a small, uninhabited island; uninhabited by humans, that is.  When you glance up you see a 1m (3ft.) lizard running straight toward you.  He is mottled grey with red and orange patches on his head, forearms and down the ridge of his back.  You freeze.  The Bahamian iguana stops less than a meter from you and looks up expectantly.  He is expecting you to feed him and fruit is a favourite.  It’s not long before you are surrounded by dozens of this endangered species.  Protected by the Bahamas National Trust, visitors are allowed to feed and photograph the iguanas.

Watch fire dancers and join in the limbo contest at the Conch Kraal Native show.  Play a round of golf at Cable Beach Golf Club or indulge with a massage at one of the many spas.

Visit the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Center for an intimate experience with endangered flora and fauna of the Caribbean.  Mingle with the Pink Flamingos, the national bird of the Bahamas, and feed the parrots.

Iguana Credit

Family Friendly

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism sponsors the Children’s Adventure and Museum Tour, a fun and educational tour that combines history, culture, and the natural environment.   

At the Atlantis Resort, on Paradise Island, a journey of discovery awaits.  Kids of all ages can swim with dolphins, slide down waterslides, play in waterfalls and fountains, learn about marine life, and dig for buried treasure on the beach. 

The Marine Habitat at Atlantis Resort, one of the world’s largest, contains 14 lagoons showcasing over 250 marine species.  Snorkel in the Ruins Lagoon, walk the clear tunnel through the Predator Lagoon, and feed the sea turtles at the Hibiscus Lagoon.

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Tips

•Downtown Nassau has seen a major spike in armed robberies of tourists over the past few years.  Avoid the ‘Over-the-Hill’ area south of downtown.

• Ride in licensed taxis only (yellow license plates).  Many tourists have unwittingly become assault and robbery victims after accepting rides from criminals pretending to be taxi drivers.

• In the winter months, a wetsuit is strongly recommended.  Also, it can be quite cool in the evenings.  A sweatshirt or light jacket will make your stay more pleasant.

• Pack sunscreen at any time of year and bug spray (with DEET) during the summer and early fall.  Dengue virus is a mosquito-borne illness that has become more prevalent in the     Caribbean over the last few years.  Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, rash, joint aches, and muscle and bone soreness.

 • Pack handheld VHF and GPS if you will be exploring on your own.  

 Electrical outlets are 120volt.  A 220volt converter and flat two-pin adapter are necessary for British and European appliances.

• Allow 12 – 18 hours between flying and diving to avoid decompression sickness.

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Rating 10/10

Stuart Cove's = Incredible!

Nassau20 Nov 2013 - 20 Nov 2013 with Stuart Cove's Dive

I dove with the crew from Stuart Cove's and found them to be most helpful, personable, professional, and accommodating. I am a newly certified diver and was grateful for their watchful attentiveness, monitoring dive habits, depths, ascension rates... Very safety conscious.

I had efficient email conversation before my trip, was picked up right at the cruise port, and their home dock is only 5 minutes from the reef. The only thing more incredible than the staff was the Shark Adventure itself. The serenity of the ocean with 40 sharks crowding around... Not to be missed. I'd cross it off my bucket list but you can bet I'll be going back!

IMG99941
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Morgan Bennett

Awesome pic with you and the sharks!

Jeff Weishar

Just dove with them best dive experience ever plus the sharks were amazing

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