scuba gear
By bahamadivers

Your Scuba Packing List: 7 Things You Can’t Go Without

The number of divers in the United States is suspected to be between 2.7 and 3.5 million. Globally, there are an estimated 6 million active scuba divers. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned diver, it’s always useful to have a handy checklist of scuba gear available when packing or preparing for a dive trip.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget a thing or two, which can mean the difference between an epic shipwreck dive or waiting on the boat.

So, check out the following scuba gear checklist before heading on a plane for the Bahamas. Print it out and carry it with you, consulting it as you pack.

Let’s dive in!

1. Snorkel and Mask

Every scuba diver needs to own a snorkel and mask set.

Some may find the snorkel unreasonable, but it can be a life-saver. If you were to run out of oxygen and needed to tread water on a wavy surface, you’d really want the assistance of a snorkel then.

Additionally, you can use it for hanging out near the boat if you finish your dive early, or for exploring lesser depths closer to shore sans tank.

And the mask if a given!

Pro tip: make sure to bring some defogger with you on board. If you forget defogger, give your mask a quit spit, spread it around, then rinse it out.

2. BCD

A BCD, or buoyancy control device, is like a vest that allows you to smartly control your buoyancy to enable you to rise or sink in the water.

You’ll attach your regulators, gauges, and oxygen tanks to your BCD. You can also connect small items like your flashlight, a dive knife, mesh bag, or whatever other gadgets you have.

Additionally, if you need to add weight to yourself, many BCDs have pockets for inserting weights into.

3. Regulator and Gauges

Your regulator is what allows you to breathe in low-pressure oxygen from your oxygen tank.

Most regulators come attached with a second regulator, called an octopus. This secondary regulator is necessary in worst-case instances where, for example, your dive buddy runs out of oxygen in their tank.

The gauges measure both depth and pressure. Depth allows you to regulate your buoyancy at smart intervals to prevent developing the ‘bends.’ It’s also important to know how deep you are because that correlates to the oxygen you’ll use.

The oxygen gauge lets you know how much pressure is left in the tank. Before you dive, your dive instructor will go over the numbers, and everyone will agree to come up around a specific pressure indicator.

4. Wetsuit or Drysuit

Depending on the temperature, you’ll likely want to invest in a wetsuit or drysuit.

Not only can these keep you comfortable in a variety of temperatures underwater, but they can protect your skin from scratching upon particular surfaces, like coral (which can be extremely painful in some instances, too).

Both wet- and drysuits are designed to keep you warm by insulating your body heat, protecting you from chilly temps. Their difference is in the design, in which different materials lend different functions.

Wetsuits, unlike drysuits, are not waterproof. They’re made of rubber neoprene and hold a small amount of water in the suit, which your body heat then regulates while the suit insulates. These flexible suits are meant to keep you warm.

Drysuits are waterproof. They fit more loosely than wetsuits and are designed to keep all water out.

For diving, wetsuits are typically the more common choice among divers.

5. Fins and Booties

To propel you at both slow and fast speeds underwater, you’ll need the assistance of your fins.

Fins must fit well to be effective; otherwise, you’ll be concentrating on the blister forming on your heel instead of enjoying the dive. Sometimes, divers use a little bit of lubricant in their fin or boot to keep it from sticking.

Booties add extra protection and warmth to your feet. They make the fins more comfortable, providing padding between them, and you can wear them on-land when walking. (As you can imagine, fins are not easy to walk in!)

6. Tanks

Many divers prefer to rent tanks at the diving facility, but you can buy and fill your own — it’s a personal preference based on space, budget, and needs.

If you’re a frequent diver who doesn’t always have to travel to dive, investing in oxygen tanks is a convenient and affordable option. But if you dive more sporadically, you can get away with renting tanks.

Some dives require one tank, while others require two tanks. This depends on the length and depth of the dive.

7. Optional Accessories

Some miscellaneous items can provide some comfort or assistance to individual divers.

For example, some divers prefer to scuba dive with a dive computer.

This commonly comes in the form of a watch, and measures your dive, offering insight such as depth, time, location, and more. Many come with a compass for more straightforward navigation, and computers calculate stats from your dives.

There are many other features available, such as air/nitrox integration, memory, and life-saving decompression calculations.

If you’re going on a night dive, it could be useful for you to bring your own underwater flashlight.

Other add-ons include diving gloves (to protect your hands) or a dive knife (can be used to cut fishing wire if found underwater, plus other uses).

Does Your Dive Bag Have These Scuba Gear Essentials?

If you’re a seasoned scuba diver, it’d be wise to invest in the supplies mentioned above.

And remember, if you’re a first-time diver or you accidentally forget something, most (if not all) dive shops can provide rentals or scuba gear for purchase.

If you’re heading to Nassau, be sure to contact us. We offer both AM and PM dives, shipwreck locations, five decades of Bahamas experience, and more!

best snorkeling in bahamas
By bahamadivers

Best Snorkeling In Bahamas for Big Families

The Bahamas are an ideal place to arrange a huge family get together. Whether you are assembling for a wedding or family reunion, these beautiful islands offer something for everyone in your group, no matter what their ages or interests.

If you have a sporty group who loves to play in the sea, think about adding snorkeling to your list of group activities. This is a wonderful pastime to enjoy with anyone who knows how to swim.

For the best snorkeling in the Bahamas, check out these various options. You can find numerous places to visit with a large group where everyone will be at ease in calm, clear waters.

1. Bimini

Named by many leading travel publications as one of the top snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean, the island of Bimini is an ideal spot for everyone in the family to try the sport. You can find numerous tours aimed at beginners, with guides who will instruct people with little to no experience. Many areas are calm, perfect for first-timers.

Additionally, in the northern part of Bimini, you will find Bimini Road, also known as the road to Atlantis. Adventurous members of the family can take a boat ride to see these submerged rows of stones which look exactly like underwater harbors found in Europe.

Whether they are evidence of that famous, lost culture or not, you and your family will find lots of enjoyment in this magical area.

2. Stuart’s Cove

You do not have to scuba to reap the benefits of the many shipwrecks in this area, which have given a home to an abundance of sea life. Snorkelers too can revel in colorful schools of fish and coral reefs.

For the more adventurous, there are even opportunities to snorkel with sharks! Stuart’s Cove on the island of Nassau has been frequently used as a set for many Hollywood films, so see if you recognize any beaches from recent James Bond movies or even Flipper!

3. Eleuthera

Eleuthera is part of the Bahamas’ Out Islands. it is about 112 miles long and about half a mile wide. It is home to quiet communities and a few luxurious resorts.

Here, a snorkel trip may show you blue holes, deserted coves, pink beaches, and rocky shorelines. A reef called the Devil’s Backbone makes the island hard to get to and attractive to vast quantities of marine life. Some say the wreck of an old train even lies below the surface!

In addition to many species of tropical fish, you can see a range of different corals and plant life, plus sea anemones, barracuda, and conches. Some recommended sites include Sea Fan Gardens,  Bird Cay,  Muttonfish Point, and Paradise Beach.

4. Sapona

For the history buffs in your family, a snorkeling trip to the U.S.S. Sapona is a must if you are staying on Bimini.

This amazing shipwreck is the last vestige of a fleet of concrete ships commissioned by President Woodrow Wilson to serve as a troop transport during WWI. After the war, it was used as a casino, an oil tank, and a liquor store until it was destroyed in a hurricane in 1926.

15 feet below sea level,  the ship’s remains host many beautiful fish populations. The brave amongst you can clamber on its wreckage and jump into the waters. Others may content themselves with memorable selfies.

5. Dean’s Blue Hole

This marine phenomenon on Long Island is another incredible place to snorkel. It is the world’s second-deepest saltwater “blue hole,” and is estimated to be over 600 feet deep.

Considered to be one of the world’s best diving and snorkeling sites, water visibility is great here, allowing you to catch a glimpse of tropical fish, tarpons, turtles, seahorses, and manta rays.

The beaches around this area are equally stunning, so for those members of your family who prefer to catch the solar kinds of rays, there is also that option.

6. Abacos

Although famous amongst scuba divers as one of the best scuba spots in the world, the Abacos is not widely known beyond that select audience. These islands are more private and exclusive than Nassau and tend to be visited by private yachts. Some of the islands themselves are privately owned.

Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco is the largest town in the island chain, but it is still tiny. If you visit here, in addition to snorkeling you can enjoy deep-sea fishing wonderful beaches or a leisurely walk past the gingerbread houses of New Plymouth.

Water taxis can take you to snorkeling spots like Guana Cay, Mermaid Reef or Elkhorn Park.

7. Nassau

It can be hard to decide where to stay in the Bahamans, as every island seems to offer something enticing.

Nassau is a real family favorite due to its variety of options for people interested in sports, history, or nightlife. It even has some fun activities for the little ones,  like a zoo.

Stuart’s Cove (see above) is one of several snorkeling options on Nassau. You can check out Love Beach, Cable Beach, or Rose Island. You will quickly understand why pirates congregated in this area, with its many mysteries waiting to be discovered.

8. San Salvador

Said to be where Christopher Columbus first placed his feet in the new world,  this area lies to the south and is less densely populated than other areas. San Salvador is where the top divers go to “wall dive,” but snorkelers will see some unique sights in this area as well.

If you try Devil’s Claw or Vicky’s Reef, you may swim alongside stingrays and sharks. High Cay, Low Cay, and Middle Cay offer deep crevasses, caves, and black coral trees.

This area may be more suitable for more advanced or experienced snorkelers.

Best Snorkeling in the Bahamas: How Do You Choose?

It is almost impossible to select one candidate for the best snorkeling in the Bahamas because so many of this nation’s islands offer magnificent spots to see life under the ocean.

Whether you want complete seclusion, adventurous and challenging seascapes, or easy, family-friendly swims, snorkeling in the Bahamas is a great way to bring the whole family together.

For more ways to enjoy your time in the Bahamas, check out our blog.

By bahamadivers

Snorkeling for Beginners: The Top Tips You Need to Know

An incredible 71% of our planet is covered with water. If you are someone who likes to travel and explore the Earth, the reality is that you aren’t seeing all that much much of it unless you make an effort to dive in. Why not consider snorkeling for beginners?

There is so much life and so much beauty below the surface of our lakes, rivers, and oceans. Scientists estimate that there are over 2.2 million species of creatures that live in the water. Under the water, there are also countless plants, colorful rocks and coral, shipwrecks and other debris, and innumerable mysteries we humans haven’t even unlocked yet.

One great way to take a look at what lies below is through the sport of snorkeling. Snorkeling is easy and anyone can do it. Although snorkeling for beginners can seem scary at first, especially to people who aren’t strong swimmers, with a little information, equipment, and practice, you can be exploring the deep in no time.

Read on to learn everything you need to know to get started as a snorkeler. Once you try it, you’ll come back for more, time and time again.

The Joy of Snorkeling

There are many reasons that snorkeling is fun and is enjoyed by so many. First of all, it’s easy. Snorkeling is a sport, but unlike many other sports, it’s easy to learn and does not require much effort from you once you get started. However, with that said, it’s also great exercise and is a wonderful new way to practice your swimming skills.

Second, snorkeling does not require much equipment. All you need are a few affordable items and once you have mastered their use, you can use them in any body of water that interests you. The equipment is easy to take with you on vacation, too; you can pack the needed items right in your suitcase.

Snorkeling is fun for all ages so it’s an activity you can enjoy with your whole family. If you or your loved ones are interested in going deeper with scuba diving, snorkeling is a great place to start first.

Last but not least, and as mentioned above, snorkeling is a great way to explore the underwater world. You will see amazing things that you cannot even imagine and will feel connected to the creatures and landscapes you view from above. Snorkeling is so much fun and you should try it as soon as you can!

Snorkeling for Beginners Equipment

Equipment needed for snorkeling for beginners or even seasoned experts is minimal and is simple to transport and use. In order to get started, all you need is a mask and snorkel. You will probably want flippers, too, and even if you are an excellent swimmer, you will benefit from some sort of flotation as well.

Mask

Of course, you’ve seen a snorkeling mask before and it’s likely you even used one when swimming as a kid. These masks go over your eyes and nose and allow you to see underwater. The fact that it covers your nose may feel strange at first, but it also protects you in this way; it keeps you from inhaling through your nose without having to hold or clamp your nose.

Snorkel

A snorkel is the most important piece of snorkeling equipment – after all, that’s where the sport gets its name, and you won’t get very far if you can’t breathe. This tube goes in your mouth. You grip it with your teeth and it creates a seal behind your lips. The top of the tube goes above the water allowing you to breathe.

Flippers

You may not need flippers to have a successful snorkeling experience, but they do help. Although they are cumbersome on land, flippers allow you to move through the water with ease. It’s also easier to kick quietly when wearing flippers; this will ensure that you do not scare any of the marine life away.

Flotation

Even if you are an excellent swimmer, you may want to wear some type of floation when snorkeling. It’s so relaxing to just float in the water, viewing the sea life below. If you have to tread water, you will tire very fast, and you won’t get to see everything you wish to see.

Snorkeling Procedure

The great thing about snorkeling is you can get started right away. There is little training needed once you correctly don the equipment.

The only thing you need to be aware of is the fact that you need to stay on the surface. If you dive down, your snorkel will fill with water. It is possible to clear the snorkel with a strong blow, but this can be challenging for some. Be sure to practice this in shallow water before trying it in deeper areas.

Otherwise, just swim or float along and enjoy the sights of deep. With flotation, you can just relax and let the currents take you where they will. Or, if you stroke and kick, you can explore and follow the creatures you encounter along the way.

Snorkeling Safety

Of course, in any sport, it’s crucial that you take steps to stay safe. Although snorkeling is easy and is safe in general, it does take place in the water so you need to stay aware.

First and foremost, you should never enter the water under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Currents and unpredictable weather on the water mean that you need to be alert at all times and that your reaction time must be the best it should be.

Always snorkel with others and don’t go off on your own. If something happens, you need to have other people around you to help.

When you enter the water, look for multiple exit points for when you are finished. If you are snorkeling off a boat, pop up every few minutes to make sure you know where you are in relation to that boat.

Most of all, don’t overestimate your physical abilities. If you get tired, take a break.

Respect the Ocean

Remember, when you go into the water, you are entering a world that does not belong to you. Be respectful of the creatures and plants you encounter. Never put your feet down in a sensitive area and do not touch coral with your hands, feet, or body. Leave things as you found them, and don’t take souvenirs.

Happy Snorkeling

As you can see, snorkeling is a great sport and activity that can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested. Snorkeling for beginners is a wonderful way to spend time on your vacation and to explore the world under the water. Anyone can do it, and you should too.

If you are interested in snorkeling in one of the best spots for snorkeling in the entire world, the fabulous Bahama islands – please contact us today. We offer a PM snorkeling trip every single day, and we even include instruction, transportation, and all the equipment you’ll need to get started. Schedule your trip today. We look forward to hearing from you!