I have talked a lot about the pristine beauty of the Bahamas and how much I love sailing there. After sailing around the world, it is still hard to beat that perfection of shallow water sailing, crystal clear water, thousands of anchorages, and white pearly beaches. The Bahamas is an aquarium right below your boat! The beauty beneath the water is as spectacular as above the water!
Let’s take a quick look at some of my favorite places to snorkel in the underwater world of the Bahamas. Grab your really good mask, snorkel and flippers I suggested you might want while cruising, and let’s explore from the north, working our way south as if we have entered the Bahamas at West End.
There is tiny Moraine Cay, near the anchorage at Allans-Pensacola. It is not a good night-time all-weather anchorage, so go there from Allans-Pensacola by mother ship during the day only, or by good, fast dinghy. The reefs surrounding this cay are well worth the effort of getting there. There are colorful coral heads, a myriad of fluorescent tropical fish, the odd nurse shark, and the ever present grouper and parrot fish. Visiting the cay by land is also fun. We found a tiny struggling key lime bush with a note in a bottle stating, “Please water me so I can grow my limes for your fish dinner!” Well, how could we resist that? We gave the little plant some of our fresh drinking water!
Further down the Sea of Abaco, a magnificent sand bar extends southwestward from Powell Cay. This sandbar stands out like a fluorescent light. Anchor to the north of the bar and snorkel in the shallow water. You can uncover beautiful clean sand dollars, sea biscuits, and other shells like the colorful sun ray talons. As you snorkel along, wave your hand over the ripples of bottom, and right under the cover of that silky sand are the shells. It’s like a fun Easter Egg Hunt.
The next place I really like to snorkel is on the outer reefs of the Sea Park of Fowl Cay. You proceed out North Man-O-War Channel to anchor in the sand between Fowl Cay reef coral heads. If coming by tender, there are moorings to secure to while exploring. The coral heads surround you and Bennie the Barracuda could come take a gander at you, his mouth opening and closing and his sharp teeth smiling at you! These lovely reefs are full of all kinds of fish. The park is protected, so do not take anything from the sea while admiring the reefs.
A wonderful small reef, good for beginners and children, is right outside Marsh Harbor. Mermaid Reef is a gorgeous little coral head just filled with lovely tropical fish. It is easily reached by dinghy and you can even swim there from the shore.
Now let’s jump down to Tilloo Bank just south of Lubbers Quarters. Wow, what a bank! Again, it is pure white sand. You will have to anchor in the deeper green water and take your tender over the bank. In only about five feet of depth, it’s easy to anchor and flip over the side. This is another perfect place for collecting shells just beneath the surface of the sand. Little black-tipped pompano swim with you and lots of starfish light your way across the bank. One caution; the swift outgoing tide makes a very strong current over the bank. Be careful if little children are swimming and watch your dog carefully as well.
Just a bit to the south of Tilloo Bank is the most beautiful of all snorkeling places in the protected Sea of Abaco — Sandy Cay. This is a really special place for diving, abundant with gorgeous colorful coral, magnificent leopard rays, curious barracuda, and all the brightly colored tropical fish you can imagine. Grouper and snapper and even a few moray eels can be seen if you look carefully in the crevasses of the coral! Black tipped sharks are cruising there too. It is my favorite. A word of caution, the tide really races here, so always remember to swim up current of your moored tender. That way it is always an easy ride back to your boat with the current. There are several mooring buoys for small boats only, so anchor your mother ship somewhere nearby, take your tender and use the moorings. No anchoring is allowed here (to protect the park and its beautiful coral).
This is just a very small list of my favorite snorkeling places in the Abacos and the rest of the Bahamas. It would take a full book to even try to describe the thousands of great diving areas for you to enjoy your own sea aquarium.
Jump in with me, and see for yourself the magnificence of the Bahamas under the water!