From underwater caves, to far-reaching coral reefs filled with vibrant color and a amazing array of marine life, there’s a dive site for novice divers all the way up to experts in the Bahamas. In addition swimming with many different types of fish, there are also several famous shipwreck dives. Quite a number of these wrecks have been purposely sunk to build artificial reefs, while others have not and are a piece of history.
Diving wrecks are all throughout the islands. Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial center of the Bahamas. Paradise Island is located just off the shore of the city of Nassau, on the northern edge of the island of New Providence. Bimini is a collection of two islands and a bunch of cays situated just 50 miles off Florida’s east coast. Located some 60 miles east of Nassau, are Eleuthera and Harbour Island. These islands are all great spots for wrecks near shore and ones you can sail to.
Bimini boasts fine shallow reefs, one great shallow wreck, the Sapona, and exciting animal experiences. Due to the fact this wreck sits high out of the water south of Bimini, The Sapona has been a sailor’s nautical landmark for quite a number of years. It’s also acknowledged to be one of the premiere shallow dive and snorkel wrecks in the world. Engulfed by less than 20 feet of pristine water, the Sapona treats her guests to a up close and personal look at hundreds of fish. The ship’s hull is riddled with holes from aircraft target practice bullets and the passage of time. Enormous schools of grunts are found inside the stern section, and divers will be thrilled see innumerable marine animals as well, especially big fish that are stunning to watch as they swim past the wreck.
Just off Bimini, the wreck of the Hesperus lays, which was a cement barge that sunk along with its cargo and you can see the bags of cement throughout the wreck. The average depth at this site is roughly 6 meters or 20 feet, but you can reach maximum depths of 11 meters, or 35 feet. Divers at this location, have spotted turtles and and rays while on their trip. Due to its nice visibility and slight depth and great amount of marine of life, it is fantastic for underwater photographers and also great for people who enjoy a night dive, where you just may spot a group of lobsters, and even a blacktip or hammerhead shark. Loggerhead turtles also swim to the wreck at night, which is also aptly nicknamed “Turtle Wreck”.
Not only is Eleuthera known for its beautiful waters and extensive underwater cave systems famous worldwide called the “blue holes,” the island’s diving wrecks are superb. Near Spanish Wells, a small island just off Eleuthera, is the Devil’s Backbone, an 8-mile stretch of shallow and jagged reef, extending across the northern edge of the islands. There are many shipwrecks at this site just waiting to be explored. The Eleuthera Train Wreck offers divers the chance to explore Civil War era train wreckage where a barge sank with its cargo on its way to Cuba. This site can be dived in 30 feet of water. Other wrecks include a 200-foot freighter from 1919 and the wreck of a 265-foot freighter that sank in 1971.
The Carnarvon was a 186ft long steel hulled Welsh freight vessel that ran aground off of North Eleuthera in 1916. She sits on a sand bottom in shallow water of only 25 to 35 feet which makes it possible for relaxing, longer dives. Her propeller, boilers, engines, and huge anchors are great photo opportunities!
Right off the coast of the popular resort Atlantis, on Paradise Island, sits The Mahoney. Built in the 1800’s, The Mahoney was a 212-foot steel freighter that sank in The Bahamas in 1929. Renamed four times, The Mahoney’s first name was Candace and it was sailed as a private yacht. Then it was sold to the British Military and renamed Firequeen and used as a flagship for the British admiralty. Firebird was the third name, and the ship was sailed as a lighthouse tender. Lastly, the last name was Bahomian, and the ship was used as a freighter.
Today the shipwreck is known as The Mahoney Wreck and is it scattered on the bottom of the ocean floor under 25 to 45 feet of water. The ship actually broke in two while sinking, so the bow and stern are separated by 100 yards. A few years after it sunk, The Mahoney was blown up under water because it was considered to be a possible danger and interference for ship navigation systems, but there are still an abundance of relics to see. Tip- make sure to wear protective clothing because The Mahoney is covered in fire coral!
Only a short boat ride from Nassau and located between New Providence and Exuma Islands, sits Hollywood’s favorite shipwreck: the LCT Barge. In both “Thunderball” and “Never Say Never Again” James Bond dives for hijacked nuclear warheads at wrecks off the Bahamian coast – filming right near the LCT Barge. Before becoming famous, the LCT Barge was used during World War II as a landing craft, and helped carry freight to and from Exuma. One day while sailing back to Nassau Harbour, the ship began to take in water. In an attempt to save the cargo, the crew tried to run the LCT Barge aground on the north side of Paradise Island but that did not work and the barge sank.
The combination of reefs and ship wrecks in the Bahamas makes for some of the world’s most exciting diving experience. Remember always to dive within your limits, don protective swimwear and only explore a wreck when you are properly trained to do so!
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