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Diving in the Abaco Islands

A Bahamian paradise, the Abaco Islands offer scuba divers shallow coral reefs, shipwrecks and encounters with hundreds of Caribbean reef sharks.


The March of the Spiny Lobster

Agitated by the arrival of fall storms in October and November, large groups of spiny lobsters ‘march’ to deeper water near Abacos and Grand Bahama.

Diving with Caribbean Reef Sharks

Love shark diving? Head to ‘Shark Rodeo’ in Walker’s Cay where dozens of Caribbean Reef Sharks show up to feed daily, putting on a show for divers.

Coral Caverns at Green Turtle Cay

Tall corals create some of the most interesting formations in all of the Bahamas. Swim through twisting alleys and coral caverns full of reef life.

Diving in the Abaco Islands

Quick facts

Located among the calm and shallow Abaco Sea, the Abaco Islands feature easy diving in colorful environments. The coral reefs here are pristine and protected, giving them the added benefit of healthy marine life. They are also quite shallow. Consequently, this is a great place for beginners to get comfortable in their fins.

Don’t worry. Advanced divers will have plenty to explore as well. Tidal currents have formed coral caverns and tunnels over the years. These are great for experienced cavern divers and intermediate divers looking to try their first enclosed experience.

There are also a couple of shipwrecks dating back to the American Civil War in the 1860s. While the wooden hulls of these ships have disappeared, treasure hunters can still spot canons and other debris.

The diving from the Abaco Islands mostly takes place from small speedboats, but a number of shore diving opportunities exist, especially near Great Guana Cay.

Keep in mind that spearfishing or collecting organisms while scuba diving is prohibited. A fee for diving in nationally protected areas may apply.

When to go

Diving in the Bahamas is best from November to May when the most sharks are in the area. June to October is hurricane season and best avoided.

June to October

The Bahamas enjoys a hot and sunny climate year-round, although June to October is considered the rainy season. It usually rains once a day, every day but for only short periods of time.

June to October is also considered hurricane season. If you are planning a trip to the Bahamas during these months, consider taking out travelers insurance on the off chance a hurricane forms during your vacation.

Air temperatures during the summer months range from 75-91°F (24-33°C) while water temperatures are approximately 83°F (28°C).

If you enjoy getting the best deals and diving at uncrowded dive sites, book your trip from June to October. This is low season in the Abaco Islands. Besides the sometimes stormy weather and the number of sharks present, diving in the Abaco Islands changes little from month to month.

November to May

November to May is the dry season in the Abaco Islands. During these summer months, you can expect sunny, hot and mildly humid conditions.

Air temperatures during the winter months range from 65-77°F (18-25°C) while water temperatures are 70-79°F (21-26°C).

In addition to great topside conditions, November to May is also the best time for shark diving. The most Caribbean reef sharks can be seen at Walker’s Cay during these months.

However, November to May also represents high season for tourism in the Caribbean. So be sure to book early in order to get a good deal on accommodation and flights.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

Most of the dive sites are located on the northeast side of the Cayes. Nearly all of the dive sites are accessible to all levels of scuba diver.

    Snorkeling in the Abaco Islands

    Snorkeling near the Abaco Islands is excellent due to the clear visibility and the shallow depth of the reefs. The wrecks of Man O’War Cay and the over-friendly grouper Pelican Cays National Park are easily visited. Other popular snorkeling destinations include Sandy Cay Reef, Hope Town Reef, Mermaid Reef, Fowl Cay Reef, Crawfish Shallows and Smugglers’ Rest.
    There are hundreds of dive sites around the Abaco Islands and new sites are being explored every season. If you’re here for the shark diving, don’t miss Shark Rodeo of Walker’s Cay. Dozens of Caribbean reef sharks show up to feast on the provided bait. With normally clear water, this makes an excellent dive to try out your videography skills. Coral-lovers will appreciate many of the dives in the area. The Towers, Coral Caverns, Wayne’s World and The Cathedral are all sites to look out for. And if you love big fish, be sure to check out Grouper Alley and Tarpon Wall. Finally, the scattered remains of the San Jacinto and the USS Adirondack are sure to interest wreck divers.

    What to see

    The Abaco Islands not only hosts hundreds of colorful fish, pelagic species also love this archipelago. In particular, scuba divers flock to the area for one-of-a-kind encounters with Caribbean reef sharks.

    Other than the sharks and the graceful dolphins that travel around the islands, keep an eye out for the Nassau Grouper, a goliath fish that can reach almost 20 pounds. Many of these are fed by local dive masters and maintain near pet-like status. Frantically swimming around the grouper are their little friends, the wrasse, which clean the grouper in exchange for protection. Tarpon can also be seen in abundance near Tarpon Wall.

    Perhaps the most iconic aquatic creature is the Queen Conch, a massive (and delicious) mollusk that slowly make their way across the sandy bottoms. Prized for their colorful and extravagant shells, conchs are often harvested in great abundance.


    For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings


    The Abaco Islands are located in the northern section of the Bahamas and lie merely 180 miles (290 kilometers) east of the US state of Florida. These islands are made up of two main islands, namely Great Abaco and Little Abaco, as well as several barrier cays. The northernmost of these cays are Walker’s Cay and Grand Cay while the southernmost are Tilloo Cay and Lubbers Quarters. Most of the cays are positioned on the northeast side of the main islands with the exception of Castaway Cay and Moore’s Island which lie to the west. Today, the Abaco Islands are a popular cruise ship destination.

    Other attractions

    There’s plenty to keep you busy on the various cays of the Abaco Islands. Be sure to photograph the iconic lighthouse of Hope Town on Elbow Cay. It’s candy-striped! Also, visit the historic shipbuilders on Man O’War Cay or take a deep sea fishing tour from any of the major tourist centers. Picturesque New Plymouth of Green Turtle Cay is ideal for an afternoon stroll through pastel-shaded streets. Furthermore, Walker’s Cay and Guana Cay are known for their perfect beaches. These cays are the most deserted and therefore the best for relaxation.

    Getting there

    Marsh Harbor International Airport and Treasure Cay International Airport both service the Abaco Islands with frequent domestic and international flights. It’s also possible to reach the island via ferry from Nassau or Grand Bahama Island. Yet another popular way of reaching the Abaco Islands is by cruise ship.


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    Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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