Scuba diving in the waters around Exuma in the Bahamas is usually done off a chartered yacht under the guidance of an expert crew with insider knowledge. These diving guides can show you not only the best spots but also the best times to showcase the hidden treasures of Exuma reefs.
The reefs of the Bahamas – especially those around Exuma – are distinct from anywhere else in the Caribbean with their pale, pastel tones. Exuma, in particular, offers some diverse experiences.
THERE ARE REEFS PERFECT FOR SWIMMING WITH SHARKS
Blacktip Wall is where you’ll find those odd looking Hammerhead sharks. In other shallower waters around Exuama and off decks, you can participate in shark feeding or just watch the majestic creatures coming up out of the water. However, the unique hammerhead is best seen by scuba diving at this spot.
Amberjack Reef is a 50-inch patch reef. Reef sharks and groupers are lured there by the prolific array of other, tiny, colorful fish. Get up close and personal with some of these weird looking little sea creatures, such as pirate blennies and garden eels.
TRY CAVE DIVING IF YOU LIKE REAL EXCITEMENT
Pillar Wall slopes to 50 inches before dropping off almost 500 feet straight to the bottom. It’s here that you’ll find the caves and other crevices to explore. You’ll also meet a large colony of yellowhead jawfish.
CHECK OUT THE MUST-DIVE CORAL REEFS
Cathedral is part of the spectacular Dog Rocks Reef which starts at 35 inches and slopes off to 50 inches before dropping straight down into the Exuma Sound. It has a large swim-through where light filters down from above reflecting off the thousands of silversides. These attract the many groupers and jacks that come to feed.The reef wall has large stands of black coral and orange elephant ear, and tube sponges. Other residents include eagle rays and reef sharks.
Cracked Coral Head is a massive coral head that rises 40 inches off the bottom. There are some large and really fun swim-through spots that make the roof look like it’s cracked – hence, the name.
Jeep Reef is breathtakingly gorgeous but watch out for the strong current that sweeps through it. This dive can only be done at low tide because of the pesky currents, but divers report that it’s worth the effort. By the way, the reef gets its name from a coral encrusted jeep that sits near the mooring.
Washing Machine is also subject to a strong incoming tide of up to six mph. It’s a challenging dive that takes scuba divers through a slim slit where water suddenly drops off a ledge and then bends sharply to the left. This creates a swirl, like water in a washing machine – hence, the name.The swirling water can toss scuba divers head over heels and so less confident divers often turn right instead of left into the washing machine.
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THESE REEF CREATURES AROUND EXUMA
Shark species include the nurse, black tip, bull, tiger, great hammerhead and Caribbean reef. Reef sharks are docile and have mouths too small to do much damage but they give you a glimpse of what their larger, sinister cousins in colder waters are like.
Spiny lobster are usually found solitary on the reef but, in late October when the storms come, they leave their ledges to march to deeper water. This is known as “The March of the Spiny Lobster” and is a sight not to be missed.
Groupers are prized fish for game fisherman here. They are large, and a crusty rock color. You’ll probably have one offered to you for dinner at several of the local restaurants.
Eagle rays are spectacular with their sweeping, dotted wings, and they move majestically through the water like spacecrafts.
Pirate blennies are little cuties that might pop out of a shell or crevice with seemingly curious looks on their faces. They are small fish with leg-like extensions that make them look like they are sitting on the coral.
Garden eels line up across the sands of the clear turquoise water showing off their delicate white snake bodies and fine ink dots.
Yellowhead jawfish is your cliché of every stunningly colored, tiny, tropical, reef fish. The head and upper body are a brilliant yellow color that slowly fades to a pearlescent purple hue. They do not have jaws.
Of course, there are literally thousands of other species to discover that will amaze and delight you on your Exuma scuba diving adventures.