Travel, at its best, offers us an environment that wildly contrasts with the physical spaces we usually move in; spaces like our homes, where we find comfort, and crowded streets, where we get jostled around, and offices, where everything can feel just a little sterile. Shrugging off the clothes of earth-walking and slipping on the equipment of underwater breathing can be outrageously liberating.
And The Abacos offer us exceptional diving spaces, some of the best in the world, with shallow waters, fish of extraordinary colors and flourishing reefs – and, amazingly, it is all only about 180 miles, or 290 kilometers, east of south Florida.
We have selected three tried-and-true underwater adventures in The Abacos that will bring you bliss.
The First is all about caves
Diving in a cave is an almost magical experience: It is dramatic, to slowly enter an underwater cavern, where light dances and retreats, the water temperature cools and the art of nature, in its wild formations, surrounds you. You will be struck by the absence of gorgeous colorful fish and awed by calcite crystals, speleothems and halocine.
You might be thinking that diving in caverns that lie underwater is an activity best left to subscribers of Scuba Diving magazine with hundreds of dives under their belts but a novice can dive into an underwater cave – after some required training – and with a certified diver at their side.
The National Association for Cave Diving offer a course titled The Cavern Diver, which is the introductory course to the world of cave diving. You can use the Professional Association of Diving Instructor’s (PADI) tool to locate a dive shop close to you or to your resort.
A helpful note: You should book ahead, as far ahead as possible, if you wish to dive the caves of The Abacos, as only one or two divers can accompany a team leader, and the entire process takes longer than slipping into the open ocean from a boat.
Learn to dive in caves in The Abacos: Bahamas Underground
Get inspired by the experts: Read about diving the blue holes of Abaco
Watch a specular short video of a Bahamas Underground cave dive
The Second is all about Fowl Cays National Park
In 2009, the Bahaman government created Fowl Cays National Park – it is 1920 acres– so as to preserve its natural beauty for all to enjoy, and create a space for fish, birds, sponges and other wildlife to flourish, including the endangered staghorn and elkhorn coral.
Fowl Cays National Park has earned a reputation as a do-not-miss snorkeling and diving spot: You are likely to see blue tangs, lionfish, angel fish, batfish, grouper and snapper. And there are sea turtles slowly swimming around and looking wise.
There is an astounding reef that houses all of these fish, turtles and other sea creatures, and it is made up of strange rock formations, towers that rise up from the ocean floor, entrancing swim-throughs and, yes, caverns and caves. Underwater flowers abound, as do great sponges and corals.
Learn more about Fowl Cays National Park here.
Watch a short video on how Fowl Cays National Park became a park here.
Check out some photos at the Fowl Cays National Park Facebook page here.
The Third is all about a shipwreck
Shipwrecks fascinate us; the idea of a once mighty vessel that smashed through fierce, wild waves sitting on an ocean floor is a dramatic one. And every ship that rests on an ocean floor has its story, as does the U.S.S. Adirondack, which can be found on the reef off of Man-O-War Cay in The Abacos.
The U.S.S. Adirondack was blocking ports used by the Confederates in the American Civil War, and went down in 1862, only six months after being launched. In the 155 years that this wooden ship has lain on the ocean floor, much of it has been eaten or naturally disintegrated. But you will see its cannons and various remnants that were not made of wood – and, importantly, you will sense the ships history – and ours – as you survey the site.
There is a worthy reef that surrounds the shipwreck site, and so you will be treated to sights of its fish, plants and coral.
Read a blog post about diving the U.S.S. Adirondack site.
Read about the U.S.S. Adirondack here.
Read this article about diving the Abacos here.
So, why not immerse yourself in a new world on your next holiday, in a place where the diving experts have your back and the visual joys amaze.