Ready, set, dive. What you need to know about scuba diving in The Abacos
If you’re unfamiliar with The Abacos, they are a group of islands and barrier cays in the northern Bahamas. This 120-mile-long chain of paradise is home to beautiful beaches, warm breezes, sunshine and, you guessed it, scuba diving adventures.
Now, if you’ve dived in the Bahamas before, The Abacos are a completely different experience. The waters are relatively shallow and most areas are 60 feet or less in depth. The fringing reefs you’ll find in these waters are extremely ornate. There is actually an extinct coral base with Star and Elkhorn corals growing on top creating the beautiful formations you will see. You’ll also find cathedral-like caverns in the form of an underwater maze as you’re swimming around. These tunnels formed from tidal flow hitting against the base reef. You’ll also be experiencing the third largest barrier reef in the world, which is saying a lot for a smaller island area.
With more than 100 miles of reef to explore, the visibility is ideal in the turquoise waters, and is usually over 100 feet. Of course, weather can affect visibility, but with lots of sunshine, The Abacos are considered a great diving destination all year round. Just a heads up, June through October is hurricane season and October to June is considered best for shark diving. Be ready to experience lush coral gardens, steep drop-offs, plenty of fishes and even friendly sharks and rays.
If you aren’t a diving aficionado, or are in need of a lesson, they are available. Here are some places you can work with to get your feet wet.
– Froggies Out Island Adventures
– Above and Below Abaco
Lesson prices vary by each company and can range from $150-$350. If you are already an avid diver, you can pay for dive excursions as opposed to lessons. If you are already a certified scuba diver and are able to dive on your own, remember to bring your certification card for proof. Otherwise, you will not be able to venture off on your own, or will have to complete lessons again.
The Abacos are considered a great place to learn how to scuba dive. Before you venture out and “dive in,” you will first be introduced to all the pieces of scuba gear. Generally, with each of the businesses listed above, you will spend the first few hours learning on land and in a pool. This gets you comfortable with breathing underwater and you will learn skills like clearing your ears and how to use your buoyancy compensator (BC) inflate/deflate valve and how to ascend/descend properly. Some of the gear you can expect to learn about includes a face mask, BC, regulator, wet suit, tanks, snorkels, weight belt/weights, and fins.
Once you’ve completed your informational session, your instructors will take you out to the beautiful reef for some diving action. Have no fear, you won’t be left completely alone when you are out on the water. Your instructors and scuba companies will be with you each step of the way to make sure you are comfortable and safe.
For those who want to expand even further than just initial scuba lessons and a single experience on vacation, you can also work on getting your own scuba certification. If you will be in The Abacos longer than four days, that is plenty of time for you to get scuba certified. If you would prefer to get certified with a local dive center near you, it can take a few weeks since classes are generally one to two times per week. PADI (Professional Association of Divers) classes are what are widely offered on the island. Again, if you are certified when coming to visit The Abacos and plan to dive, please bring your certification for proof.
More advanced divers can further their experience and gain other certifications, or take courses like advanced open water, air diving, underwater photo and several others. There is even an option at many locations to become a dive master if you are looking to make a career out of scuba diving.
The northernmost island of Walker’s Cay has one of the most unique shark dives in all of The Bahamas. You can see groups of up to 150 sharks coming together when dive boat engines turn on in what looks like a coral arena. The sharks eat bait while divers can swim around with them. It may sound a little scary, but your dive instructors and guides will keep you safe.
These are considered the top Abaco diving locations:
The Towers: Huge coral pinnacles 60 feet tall, pierced with tunnels and caverns
Grouper Alley: 40ft. Numerous tunnels beneath a monstrous coral heads
Wayne’s World: 70ft. A tour of the outside of the barrier reef
The Cathedral: Huge cavern where shafts of sunlight dance on the floor
Tarpon Reef: High profile corals for a school of Tarpon and a huge Green Moray
Coral Caverns: A series of winding caverns filled with clouds of shiny Silversides
San Jacinto: 40ft.The wreck of a large steamship sunk in 1865
The Catacombs: A shallow sun-splattered cavern with abundant tropical fish
If you are ready to get your dive on, reach out to one of the local companies above or feel free to ask around at the Firefly Sunset Resort for some help, as someone will always be happy to help you have fun!