The Ultimate Diving Guide to the Abacos and Exumas in the Bahamas

Strap on a tank and mask to explore the Exumas, one of the best dive sites in The Bahamas
Strap on a tank and mask to explore the Exumas, one of the best dive sites in The Bahamas | © Tom Stack / Alamy Stock Photo
Liz Allen

The Bahamas is home to a dazzling spread of unspoilt coral reefs, making it one of the top scuba-diving destinations in the world. The azure waters are brimming with marine life, and the world-class shark diving is an attraction for many. The Abacos, the second-most visited destination in The Bahamas, is a great place to kick off your underwater adventure, as are the Exuma islands in the east. Here’s what you need to know about diving in the Abacos and the Exumas.

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Why are the Abacos and Exumas particularly good for scuba diving?

Of all the scuba diving spots in The Bahamas, the Abacos and the Exumas are by far the most popular. At the Abacos, you’ll get to dive along the most pristine reefs in The Bahamas in relatively shallow waters. The majority of dive sites around this archipelago are less than 18m (60ft) deep, which makes them safer and easier to explore for the less-experienced diver. Some 300km (185mi) or so away, the waters around the Exumas are better suited to those with more dives under their belt. While there are shallow dives in the area, it is better known for wall diving, underwater caverns and shipwrecks.

The shallow waters around the Abaco Islands make them ideal for beginner divers

Where are the best dive sites?

Tiger Beach, the Abacos

If seeing sharks is your goal, diving Tiger Beach is a must. The dive site is aptly named for the large population of tiger sharks frequently seen circling the area. Here you’ll encounter shallow depths and excellent visibility, making it a favourite for underwater photographers but also an easy spot for novice divers. It takes about an hour to get to the Tiger Beach dive site from West End in Grand Bahama.

The clear waters off Tiger Beach mean you can see the resident sharks with ease

Dog Rock Wall, the Exumas

Dog Rock Wall has underwater canyons, which you can swim through, filled with marine life. The wall starts at about 12m (40ft) deep before descending well past scuba-diving limits. Along the reef wall, divers can enjoy vibrant corals, tube sponges, black corals, and close-up encounters with inquisitive Atlantic spadefish. As with most wall dives, Dog Rock Wall is not recommended for beginners.

The swim-through canyons at Dog Rock Wall are best left to experienced divers

The Towers, the Abacos

The Towers is among the most unique reef dives in the Bahamas. The site has two coral pinnacles that stand around 18m (60ft) tall and are filled with tunnels and caverns. Caribbean reef sharks, rays and turtles are among the local inhabitants. In terms of depth, this dive site will take you up to 23m (75ft) deep.

The Great Exuma Wall, the Exumas

Another spectacular wall dive, the Great Exuma Wall is filled with diver favourites including eels, sea turtles, eagle rays, sharks and trumpetfish. This dive site is right off the Highbourne Cay coast, making it a particularly easy site to visit.

The Great Exuma Wall is a life-filled dive site that’s particularly easy to visit

Which are the best diving schools?

Stuart Cove’s, New Providence

From his dive school in New Providence, Stuart Cove offers both introductory courses and full scuba certifications plus snuba – a combination of scuba and snorkelling that allows non-certified divers to stay underwater for longer. Stuart Cove’s scuba course follows the PADI certification programme.

Book a spot with Stuart Cove’s for a chance to snuba – a mix between snorkelling and scuba diving

Ocean Fox Dive Center, the Exumas

If you want to obtain your scuba certification while visiting the Exumas, the Ocean Fox Dive Center is a great option. Ocean Fox offers two ways to obtain your certification through their shop – you can either do all the coursework and diving with them or maximise your time in The Bahamas by completing the coursework online before you visit. This outfitter also follows the PADI certification programme.

How do you get to the Abacos and the Exumas?

While the Abacos and the Exumas are part of the Out Islands – those that aren’t New Providence and Grand Bahama – hopping over to these stunning destinations may not be as difficult as it seems. The simplest way to get to the Abacos is to fly into Leonard M Thompson International Airport (once known as Marsh Harbor Airport) on Great Abaco Island. Another option is to fly into Nassau, then board a small inter-island plane to travel the rest of the way.

Taking a direct, international flight is also the easiest way to get to the Exumas. American Airlines, Delta and Florida Coastal Airlines all fly between the US and the Exumas. You can also reach the Exumas from Nassau by taking a small, regional plane, an eight-hour boat ride aboard the Bahamas Ferries, or by riding as a passenger on one of the two mail boats that travel around the islands.

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