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Diving in San Salvador

As the exposed peak of a submerged mountain, San Salvador in the Bahamas is surrounded by fringing reef and drastic walls full of uncrowded dive sites.


Photogenic Wall Dives

It’s rumored more underwater photos have been taken of San Salvador than anywhere else. The vertical walls, like “Hole in the Wall,” are noteworthy.

Cave Diving at Sandy Point

For those who dare, many of the northern and southern walls have eroded to form caves. Check out Sandy Point Cave or Double Cave near Sandy Point.

Wreck Diving at Green Cay

As an entry and exit point to the Atlantic, the shores of San Salvador are littered with famous wrecks such as Brig Enterprise Wreck at Green Cay.

Diving in San Salvador

Quick facts

San Salvador is best known for its reef and wall dives. These are formed by the fact that the island is actually the top of a submerged mountain that drops to 15,000 feet (4572 meters). Most of the diving takes place on the leeward side of the island, protected the dive sites from any major currents. Therefore, the reef dives are suitable to novice divers. The wall dives can be attempted by anyone who feels comfortable without a bottom beneath their fins. These walls drop to infinity.

In addition to reefs and walls, San Salvador also features a number of historical wrecks on all sides and caves on the south and west sides. Be aware that the south side of the island is more susceptible to heavier currents. Most of the wrecks and caves should only be attempted by advanced or tec divers.

While it is possible to access a number of the shallow reefs from shore, the majority of diving around San Salvador takes place from small speedboats. Nearly all of the dive sites are within a five to ten-minute boat ride from shore.

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 in San Salvador 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. A hurricane comes into contact with San Salvador about once every three years. 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 San Salvador. 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. During these months, you have the best chance of encountering a hammerhead shark in San Salvador.

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

Nearly all of the dive sites are located on the west side of the island. Beginners can stay closer to shore. Advanced divers can head further away.

    Snorkeling in San Salvador

    Snorkeling near San Salvador is easily accomplished as an independent activity. The resorts on the island have great house reefs. Otherwise, rent some snorkel gear, head to the west side of the island and pick a spot that looks interesting. More than likely, you’ll find a protected coral reef full of life.
    San Salvador hosts approximately 50 dive sites suitable to all levels. Reef dives are perhaps the most popular category on San Salvador. You’ll usually find boats heading to Pillar Reef, Sponge World or Vicky’s Reef. Wall dives are also sought after on San Salvador. A few of the most well-known include Grouper Gully, Hole in the Wall, Shark Alley, Stewpot, Devil’s Claw and Cockburn Town Wall. If cave diving is your calling, be sure to check out Sandy Point Cave, the Movie Caves and Double Cave. Finally, wrecks surround the island, and quite a few can easily be explored such as Brig Enterprise Wreck, Columbian Wreck, Frasgate Wreck and Yacht Wreck.

    What to see

    The majority of scuba divers seek out San Salvador for its amazing wall dives. These are full of life, but a highlight of the biodiversity are the natural shark encounters. During the winter and spring months, you might come across hammerhead sharks, bull sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, silky sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks and the occasional tiger shark. Dolphins often show up to investigate both divers and their boats. Green turtles, hawksbill turtles and leatherback turtles munch on the reefs while eagle rays appear out of the blue on the walls. Seahorses, Bahama sea stars, queen conches and hordes of tropical fish flit amongst the colorful coral reefs, and friendly grouper might approach to say hello.


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

    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings


    San Salvador Island is located on the far western reaches of the Bahamas. It was previously known as Watlings Island until 1925. However, it is believed that San Salvador was the first land Christopher Columbus visited when he made his famous voyage in 1492. He named the island San Salvador after Jesus Christ. While many are convinced San Salvador was the first sight Columbus saw, others are not and the claim remains disputed.

    Today, approximately 1000 people reside on San Salvador. Most are involved in the tourism industry, and Cockburn Town is the principal community of the island.

    Other attractions

    San Salvador is one of the best areas in the Bahamas to get away from it all. With miles of undisturbed coastline and pristine beaches, you’re sure to find somewhere secluded to relax. Dixon Hill Lighthouse is an icon of the island. Climb up it and take in the view then photograph the lighthouse from the ground. Landfall Park memorializes the landing of Christopher Columbus. It’s a small reminder for an momentous event. Other ruins are scattered around the island, including Watling’s Castle and the Holy Saviour Roman Catholic Church.

    Getting there

    There is one airport on San Salvador Island called San Salvador International Airport. This small port of entry welcomes daily flights from Nassau and a weekly chartered flight from Ft. Lauderdale. It also occasionally sees chartered flight from Paris and Montreal. The only other way to reach the island is by private boat or weekly mail boats to Cockburn Town.


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    120 V

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    Main airport
    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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