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With easy reef dives, colorful walls, wrecks and a few blue holes, the Exumas are home to schools of colorful reef fish, grey reef sharks and more.

Highlights

Thunderball Grotto

This unique geological formation formation is like swiss cheese, a hunk of rock permeated by holes and tunnels for divers and snorkelers to explore.

Angelfish Blue Hole

Perfect for the underwater photographer, Angelfish Blue Hole is positioned in a protected bay. Eagle rays and turtles are often seen along the entrance.

Amberjack Reef

This beautiful reef is exemplary of those found along the Exumas. Here you’ll see dozens of grey reef sharks, pirate bennies and black grouper.

Diving in Exumas

Quick facts

Sheltered from the Atlantic by the other islands in the Bahamas, Exuma and its row of cays (collectively called the Exumas) are known for their shallow coral reefs and colorful walls. Most diving here is easy enough for beginners. Currents are minimal along the reefs, and several shallow sunken ships offer a splendid introduction wreck diving.

Advanced and tec divers shouldn’t be bored at the Exumas, however. There are several blue holes and underwater cave systems to be explored. As with the rest of the Bahamas, shark feeds are popular at the Exumas, and some of the walls in the area can offer up to a 2-knot drift.

While it is possible to access a number of the reefs from shore, the majority of diving in the Exumas takes place from small speedboats. If you wish to visit more remote dive sites, consider booking a liveaboard. These depart from Nassau on New Providence.

Keep in mind that spearfishing or collecting fish while scuba diving is prohibited.

When to go

November to May is the best time to dive the Exumas when topside conditions are at their peak. 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 only for 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 88°F (31°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 on the Exumas. However, besides the sometimes stormy weather and the number of pelagic species present, diving in the Bahamas changes little from month to month.

November to May

November to May is the dry season in the Bahamas. 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 75-80°F (24-27°C).

In addition to great topside conditions, November to May is also the best time for shark diving. You’ll find the most grey reef sharks from November until May.

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

By far, the most interesting dive sites are located along the northern cays of the Exumas. These sites are most easily reached by liveaboard cruise.
    USD 1,995Per trip
    USD 1,946Per trip
    USD 995Per trip

    Snorkeling in Exumas

    Snorkeling in the Exumas is excellent due to its shallow reefs and clear waters. In particular, snorkelers enjoy Thunderball Grotto where they can free dive through short cave tunnels into a variety of open-air rooms. The cool part? James Bond was filmed here. In addition, Bird Cay, Duck Cay North and Loaded Barrel Reef all offer shallow reefs with a wide array of colorful fish.
    There are well over 50 dive sites in the Exumas. All are worth exploring, but if you only have a limited time, you can focus on the following. The best reef dive is probably Amberjack Reef. At 50 feet (15 meters), this colorful coral site is full of life. If you’d like to combine reef diving with shark diving, check out Shark Reef. Unlike many of the other shark sites in the Bahamas, operators don’t usually chum the water here. Instead, you’ll watch the 10 to 20 resident grey reef sharks naturally. A perpetual favorite, the Austin Smith Wreck is a great first wreck dive. This former defense force vessel was accidentally sunk off the Exumas while on its way to becoming an artificial reef in San Salvador. Today it sits in 18 meters (60 feet) of water. Finally, the blue holes known as Angelfish Blue Hole and Mystery Cave are worthwhile dive sites for tec divers.

    What to see

    Many scuba divers who are attracted to the Bahamas and the Exumas in particular come to see the wide array of sharks. During the winter and spring months, you will likely see grey sharks, nurse sharks, lemon sharks and Caribbean reef sharks as well as the occasional hammerhead shark, bull shark, silky shark, oceanic whitetip shark or tiger shark. Dolphins often show up to investigate both divers and their boats. And pilot whales, humpback whales and sperm whales can be seen when traveling to open ocean dive sites. Green turtles, hawksbill turtles, leatherback turtles and eagle rays swim along the current while seahorses, Bahama sea stars, queen conches and hordes of tropical fish hide amongst the colorful coral reefs.

    Calendar

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    Area

    With Great Exuma as its anchor, the Exumas combine more than 365 cays and small islands. George Town, founded in 1793, is the capital of the district. It’s population is approximately 1,450, although this number has grown in recent years due to the influx in tourism. The Tropic of Cancer crosses a beach near the city.

    The Exumas were originally settled in 1783 by loyalists fleeing the American Revolution. When the principal settler, John Rolle, died, he left much of his private holdings to his slaves. Today, a number of the small cays remain privately owned by the rich and famous.

    Other attractions

    There’s plenty to keep you busy up and down the Exumas. One of the quirkiest attractions is Pig Beach. The uninhabited island is home to feral, swimming pigs. It’s not known how the pigs came to live on the island. Throughout the cays and Great Exuma, you’ll find beaches on which to relax in the sun. Water sports, such as jetskiing and waterskiing, are on offer for the more adventurous. For a dose of local history, check out Rolle Town Tombs. And, if you need a few gifts for your friends back home, stop by Sandpiper Arts & Crafts in George Town.

    Getting there

    Because of the growth of George Town, getting to the Exumas is easier than ever. Direct flights arrive to Exuma International Airport from Nassau, Atlanta, Miami and Toronto. Those with private transportation are also welcome to land at the small airstrip on Staniel Cay. Those traveling by boat can expect a journey of 1 hour from Nassau to the far northern cays of the Exumas.

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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.