As I entered a vast crevice in the corals, the ocean floor rose up into a maze of walls. Heading deeper through the high arches, I was in awe of the sunlight beaming through cracks and reflecting off the thousands of fish, glittering and flashing. I was told I would praise God once I got here and now it all makes sense. I was in the Cathedral.
The Bahamas is a mecca for diving. The variety of dive sites is key to it’s popularity. When you can see schooling pelagics, deep walls, shipwrecks, vibrant corals and turtles in the same day, you are definitely onto a winner. The Exuma Cays has all of this and more.
1- Lost Blue Hole
As you enter the abyss, which is home to myriads of sea life, it is almost an eerie experience. Shoot straight to the bottom where there are usually some Nurse sharks and during the spring a large school of Blacknose sharks. As you make your way back up in a circular motion, you’ll find all sorts of amazing sea life in the cracks and crevices, including large Lobster, Turtles and various reef fish.
2- Amberjack Reef
A site that is prolific with sea life. Reef sharks will be at the back of the boat before you and you will see many more on the dive, as well as several types of large grouper. This dive also has many interesting small critters such as pirate blennies, arrow crabs and cleaner shrimp. During the safety stop you will be surrounded large schools of horse-eye jacks and barracuda that hang out under the yacht.
3- Austin Smith Wreck
A 90′ Bahamian Defense Force Cutter lying in 60’ of water that sank while being towed to San Salvador. It is a very easy wreck dive to navigate, with no entry points. There is a sprawl of debris surrounding it and many reef sharks call it home. In the sand surrounding the wreck, you will find many small fish such as Banded Jawfish, Seminole Gobies and Tobacco fish.
4- Jeep Reef
This site is named from a coral encrusted jeep that sits near the mooring. It is the most vibrant and colourful of all dive sites in the Exumas, due to the tidal waters and sun-drenched locale keeping the corals healthy. It is in the middle of the Exumas Land & Sea Park and hosts a healthy population of fish.
5- Washing Machine
This dive is fun! It can only be done on a running tide as the rushing water between the cays creates the swirling drift dive. As you enter the Washing Machine you are swirled around in several large circles, each diver in their own motions. It lasts only a few minutes and the rest of the dive is drifting over the corals admiring turtles, stingrays and lobster.
6- Dogs Rock Reef
This site has it all. The site is split into several areas, which must all be experienced. The Cathedral is a large swim-through where the light filters down from above, reflecting off the thousands of silversides inside. Looking for an easy feed are several Groupers and Jacks who chase around the silversides and create flashes with the light. Next you venture out onto the wall, where Pelagics, Eagle Rays and Sharks are frequently seen. The wall has large stands of black coral, orange elephant ear and tube sponges. An old anchor chain has been reborn with vibrant coral now attached.