The Islands of the Bahamas are an archipelago of 700 islands covering 100,000 square miles of the Western Atlantic ocean. The Spanish explorers called these islands "baja mar", which means shallow sea. The islands are formed by a plateau that is sunken beneath shallow waters. The average depth along the shorelines is 20 feet. The plateau is cut by a deep underwater trench, the Tongue of the Ocean, where the depth drops vertically from 150 feet to thousands of feet. The Gulf Stream brings a huge variety of marine life as it courses between Florida and the Bahamas.
The warm shallow waters have allowed a vibrant reef system to develop. Five percent of the Earth's coral is found in the Bahamas. This is more coral than Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Lucayan National Park on Grand Bahama Island boasts the world’s longest cave and cavern system. Visibility of over 200 feet is an everyday treat in the turquoise waters of the Bahamas. It's no wonder that the Bahamians consider their islands the Dive Capital of the World.
The Bahamas offers the complete range of diving adventures. Visitors can find dive charter operators on all of the main islands. Many offer certification and equipment rentals. Most can offer a complete vacation package with diving, hotel and transportation. Several charters offer "live aboard" diving boats which allow you to dive, dive, dive! There are charters for snorkelers, novice divers, and caves, wrecks and Blue Holes for the advanced diver. Dive charters also offer opportunities to swim with dolphins and observe sharks.
New Providence Island and Grand Bahama Island are the most populated and are the islands most visited by tourists. Nearly every cruise ship that sails from Miami, Florida, will be making a stop in either Nassau (the capital city located on New Providence) or in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Some of the best diving takes place on the Out Islands: Andros, Abacos, the Biminis, Berry Islands, Acklins/Crooked Island, Eleuthera, the Exumas, Cat Island, San Salvador, Long Island, Inagua, and Mayaguana.