The aqua blue waters of the Bahamas are a sight to behold. They are even better when you have the opportunity to see them from the bottom. If you are a person who likes to be in the water, love scuba diving or snorkeling, then you want a place where you can dive freely without having to clean up other people’s mess. The Bahamas is a great place to do this. The water is clear, the wildlife is plentiful, and there are dozens of qualified operators that can take you to some of the best reef spots in the world.
The Bahamas does not always get a fair shake as a premier diving destination. Since it is an easy flight from the United States and Europe (where most divers come from), it is often overlooked as “just the Bahamas”. But if you take the time to explore the Bahamas and the Caribbean in general, you will find that they are excellent diving locations that can give you a wide breadth of experience on a more reasonable budget. While everyone loves snorkeling the great barrier reef or diving off of Fiji, sometimes something closer to home can be just as good. The water is not always bluer on the other side of the world.
As with any diving adventure, you want to make sure that you are working with a good operator. When you are in another country, it can be challenging to find places where you “can just dive.” Local laws may prohibit diving in some areas and some countries still allow oceanfront beaches to be private property. This means that you need to look for a guide, even if they are just taking you to a place to dive and letting you go. Research here is imperative. Just like any other part of the travel industry, you will find that there are good companies and bad companies- and if you save that dime going with the bad companies, you can lose everything.
So what do I mean by “bad companies?” There are companies that will cut costs however they can. The worst offenders are the people who do not have licenses to do what they are doing. Always make sure that your providers have their business license and the proper insurance for the location where you are diving. This can be a lifesaver, literally.
Next, make sure that your dive group is taking you somewhere worth the money. If they take you to a public beach where you could have just walked out into the water on your own, your $150 may be lost. Even some scuba companies take you in their boat to a public beach, which can be a waste of a lot of money. Public beaches are not the only problem, I have been on a few trips where they take you to outer reefs to snorkel where the water is too rough. It would be fine for scuba diving, but the water is only about five feet deep so you are still swimming in the break.
The equipment that you get is also something that you should look at. When I go snorkeling, I take my own mask because I have a panoramic; however, if you do not go as often, you may still want to buy your own mask and snorkel. Most companies do a good job sterilizing the equipment, but with contact diseases going around- sometimes it is worth the $40 to have your own stuff, even if it is cheap.
Personal floatation devices are also important. Most Scuba divers have their own gear, so I will skip over this here, but if you snorkel you use the stuff the company has. Even if you are a strong swimmer, floats are a good thing. I can swim for about 30 minutes before I need a break sans an inflatable vest (one where you can adjust the floatation), but with the vest on I can do a couple of hours, just remembering to reapply sunscreen. Most places have good vests. If you start swimming and it won’t inflate, then have them give you another. Most places I have seen in the Bahamas have the inflatable vests that have the emergency CO2 cartridge, which allows you to pull it if you get in trouble. Some still use the old foam floats, which work but take away control. This is all something you can research when looking for a dive company.
As with most travel, this is an area where you may want to talk to a travel agent. One of the big advantages of a travel agent is that they have a list of providers who have the insurance and the reputation that you need. They will make sure that your provider will take you somewhere fun and safe for your water time.
About the Author
Dr. Smithmyer is the Vice President of International Affairs for Brāv Online Conflict Management, an international consortium of conflict resolution professionals. Dr. Smithmyer is also a columnist for NRN doing mostly political and international business columns. When Dr. Smithmyer is not working with people to make the world a better place, he enjoys snorkeling the waters of the world.
Dr. Smithmyer has traveled extensively in the United States, Australia, Vietnam, and the Bahamas. He has also presented in the U.K., India, Brazil, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Smithmyer is one of the most lettered men in the world with nine degrees. As an adjunct professor in his spare time, Dr. Smithmyer uses his business experience and travels to help bring the world to his students and even brings the students to the world through experiential learning trips.
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