Liveaboard Diving in Exuma Cays

What To Expect On An Exuma Cays Liveaboard

A chain of 365 islands, also known as Cays, surrounded by sapphire blue waters and untouched beaches is what makes up the Exuma Cays. This string of islands in the Bahamas only stretches 209 km (130 mi) and starts just 55km (35 mi) under the capital city of Nassau. These islands are only populated by 7400 people, meaning a lot of privacy and a lot of untouched nature; the perfect recipe for a great experience. There is a high abundance of marine life, including all the species of sea turtles which you can see throughout the year, along with eagle rays, dolphins, reef sharks, and seahorses. November through to February heightens the chance of seeing humpback whales and hammerhead sharks. Due to the extreme lack of runoff into the water, visibility is great all year round.

The most famous dive area is the Exuma Land and Sea Park, it is one of the National Park and Protected Areas managed by the Bahamas National Trust, meaning protecting their environment is a priority for them. There you will have the chance to dive along underwater walls, flourishing and untouched reefs and last but not least; sharks. They have dive sites of multiple depths so divers can enjoy a scuba experience here. With its protection, it is a kind of environment you won't find in many other places.

One of the most popular dive sites within the Land and Sea Park is Jeep Reef. It has one of the healthiest and most colorful reefs you will ever see. There is a constant current flowing over it which aids the coral in staying healthy, which then also results in a high population of fish. Its trademark is the coral-encrusted jeep that is situated by the reef.

While in the Exuma Cays you will have the chance to visit multiple dive sites, each with their own unique experience. There are a few dive sites which consist of beautiful, thriving sea walls such as the Whale Tail Wall, where eagle rays are often spotted and Pillar Wall, which begins at 12 meters (40') and drops down more than 100m (333'), especially great for deep divers.

There is also a wreck you can dive around; the Austin Smith Wreck, lying down at 18 m (60') and is about 25m (82') long and after being down there for 21 years, its misfortune has created a spectacular dive site. If you seek even more excitement then you will find this at The Washing Machine, a place where the tide can literally make you tumble around, if you wish. If you would rather watch from the sidelines it still has an impressive reef teeming with life. When it comes to reefs, the Amberjack Reef, another site, is a small patch of reef that is incredibly alive, you will be surrounded by thousands of fish and there are multiple reefs shark that call that patch their home.

Another unique experience that the Exuma Cays provide is the chance to dive in a blue hole, as this is quite close to Nassau it can be done either at the beginning or the very end of the trip. This dive site is named the Lost Blue Hole. The hole itself is 60 meters (196') deep, with numerous levels of excitement. The rim lies at 12m (40') which is inhabited by endless corals, stingrays a school of fish. At 24m (80') there is a lobster filled crevice and during the spring months, black nose sharks inhabit the holes deepest level.

These are just a few dive sites a Bahamas liveaboard could visit, there are many more, each with something special to offer. Many of the sites you will visit are only accessible by liveaboards, which eliminates it being overcrowded, a big plus.

Itinerary Details

The length of the liveaboard itinerary, which visits the Exuma Cays, is usually 8 days, 7 nights, with the departure being from the capital city Nassau. The prices start from US$300 a day, however, this price could exclude things such as gear rental which starts from around US$175 extra for the entire trip, insurance, which is something that is highly recommended everyone get before joining the liveaboard and lastly if you choose to use Nitrox then this will also come as an extra cost, please always check the specifics as they can vary. At the moment a liveaboard goes out to the Exuma Cays multiple times a month, all year round. The number of people onboard may vary, however, this is usually around 15 people.

Divers are required to have their Open Water certificates, but apart from that, all levels are welcome. The staff onboard are all trained professionals whose main priority is safety and enjoyment, you will always receive a safety briefing before each dive, followed by what we hope to be an exciting and fulfilling dive. You will be offered luxurious and comfortable accommodation onboard, with a professional and experienced crew. You will boing approximately 5 dives a day (including night dives) and in between these you will be served food from international cuisine with beverages constantly available.

Best Time To Travel

Diving in the Exuma Cays is possible all year round. Each season provides divers with a different kind of diving experience. When it comes to temperatures and diving conditions, they vary but not to extremes that would prevent anyone from getting into the water. November commences the winter weather, bringing in cold fronts from time to time. Mostly these are mild though. The waters around this time are around 25-26 degrees Celsius (77-80 degrees Fahrenheit) so even though it is winter, they are still pleasant temperatures. The summer months, June to September, have the best conditions with waters being around 30 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit). The riskiest month for storms is August, however, they are not at all frequent.

Liveaboard Departures

The departure city for Bahamas liveaboards that visit the Exuma Cays is the capital city of Nassau. There they have an international airport; Lynden Pindling International airport, which is the easiest port of entry into the Bahamas. The main dock on Nassau is the Prince George Wharf. The Exuma Cays start only 55km south of Nassau, so it is not a long trip to get there.

To get a taster of the diving world of the Bahamas, Nassau and its neighboring island of Paradise Island provide numerous opportunities. Some including shipwrecks, one dive site also has a large Blue Hole and you can visit the humorously names 'Fish Hotel' dive site which has an abundance of large schools of fish. Their sites are of all different depths so any divers can go exploring there.

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