Stephen Frink/Corbis
Noelle Khalila Nicolls
February 05, 2015

Water is an inescapable part of who Bahamians are as island people. To truly pay homage to the bounty of our ocean, though, you must enjoy it both from above and from below. So, submit yourself to the aquatic kingdom: Suit up with a mask and snorkel and check out one of my five top spots for snorkeling. You will be introduced to colorful reefs with purple sea fans, blue corals and orange sponges, teeming with tropical fish. If you’re lucky, you may even spot an octopus, sea turtle or moray eel.

If you’re unlucky, of course, you might happen upon a shark. If you do, I’ll pass along a suggestion that I got from a friend of mine, who is a local a fisherman. It is not uncommon when someone thinks about a chance encounter with a shark to envision a great escape that involves swimming faster than the apex predator of the sea. But of course, it is impossible to swim faster than a shark, so why even bother trying? My friend’s advice: if the shark wants to eat you it will, so why not just relax? You won’t improve your chances by swimming away frantically. 

Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas

If you have a daredevil spirit, then you must try a Stuart Cove’s shark dive in Nassau. I did it as a 14-year-old high school student and I am living to tell the tale. You keel down in a semicircle with a group of other crazy divers and watch as sharks swarm around you while they attack a chum bucket. It will be one of the freakiest, most exhilarating, crazy-stupid things you ever volunteer to do in your life. 

Brendal’s Dive Center

Hand-feeding a stingray is one of my all-time favorite wild animal encounters. At Brendal’s Dive Center in Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, you can do just that on your snorkeling trip, and more. The company has been running adventurous snorkeling tours—which are often packaged with lunch and other water sport activities—for more than 25 years.

Underwater Explorers Society (UNExSO)

Forget about swimming with dolphins in captivity. With UNExSO, the largest dive center in Grand Bahama, you can have the thrilling experience of encountering wild dolphins in an open-ocean swim. You will meet a pod of bottlenose dolphins in their natural habitat and learn firsthand the intelligence and charm of these enchanting sea mammals. 

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

Beneath the blue at this beautiful Exumas preserve you will find some of the most vibrant reefs in the Bahamas, all concentrated in one area. This is the oldest park in the Bahamas, and the first land and sea park in the world. Brightly colored mature and juvenile tropical fish school around the reefs, coexisting with the sea turtles, lobsters, sting rays, barracudas and the occasional shark. Here, you have the best chances of seeing it all. 

Riding Rock Resort and Marina

Located on the southern island of San Salvador, Riding Rock Resort and Marina provides access to some of the Bahamas’ most undisturbed reef ecosystems. Family-owned and -operated since the 1960s, Riding Rock can help you navigate more than 50 dive and snorkeling sites around the small island. With visibility of up to 100 feet, you will have no problem seeing amazing undersea life.

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