The waters off West End, Grand Bahama Island, provide some of the finest scuba diving and snorkeling you will find in the Bahamas. The island’s reputation as a diver’s paradise has been growing ever since the earliest episodes of ‘Sea Hunt’ were filmed here in the late 1950s.
West End, located on the Gulf Stream, continually supplies nutrients as well as animal and reef life to this pristine environment. Blue circulating waters keep the area’s reefs clean. The region surrounding West End and the offshore cays is rich with shipwrecks from the Spanish Galleon era while the white sand banks are home to hundreds of spotted dolphins.
West End Water Sports offers snorkels and dive trips at Old Bahama Bay Marina. Certified divers can charter a boat for full day and half day excursions.The most unique and best dive sites to be found in Grand Bahama are along the coast between West End and Freeport. Below are some of the more popular dive sites:
High profile corals in tongue and groove formations lie in 60 – 100+ feet of water. Sharks, turtles and large pelagic creatures are most likely to be seen in these depths.
Sunk for UNEXSO in 1982; Theo’s was a 228-foot cement hauler. She lies on her port side at 100 feet, adjacent to the continental shelf. The dive includes two penetrations – the engine room and the cargo hold. A giant green moray plus a few spotted eels sometimes reside in the wreck.
Balanced between two separate coral heads, this 40-foot tugboat allows divers to swim under the hull. Lobsters and crabs can occasionally be seen hiding in the crevices between the wreck and the reef. In the winter, congregations of tiger groupers are in the vicinity.
Edge of the Ledge
The mooring is set at 100 feet on a sandy bottom. To the south, you will see the slope of the continental shelf that drops off dramatically. Following the ledge, you will see small scattered coral heads. Keep an eye out for hammerhead sharks, eagle and manta rays that may be cruising by the ledge.
At the mooring, you will find solid coral with surge channels that gradually slope off to a depth of 80-90 feet. This site is close to the shark feeding area, so it is possible to see a shark or two swimming by.
Named for the National Geographic photographer, Bates Littlehale, this site has two lairs (small caves) created by the coral growing over the surge channels. It is possible to swim through the most westerly of these two lairs. This area is loaded with white, French and blue striped grunts.
These dive locations are found in 40 – 60 feet of water. Typically, there are scattered coral heads growing into more solid reef formations along a sandy bottom.
SPID is an acronym for the Self-contained, Portable, Inflatable Dwelling that was once used for short term habitation experiments in th mid-to-late ’70s. A twin engine Aztec aircraft, once used in the “Sea Hunt” series, is nestled on the sandy bottom. Large schools of blue parrot fish are often seen grazing on the bottom. As you head south, the coral will become solid with surge channels running through it. This site is very close to the location of the shark dive, so you may see one or two Caribbean
reef sharks passing through.
The coral heads at this site form a rough triangle, hence the name. You can see a bit of everything here; sandy bottom at the blue hole; scattered coral heads to the east and more solid reef to the west and southwest. A blue hole, eel garden and stingrays are some of the highlights.
Here you find a pretty string of coral heads on a sandy plateau that should be visited as pieces of art in a gallery. On one isolated head, there are star corals of three different colours. Take your time to examine the individual coral heads as you can often find arrow crabs or red banded coral shrimp in their nooks and crannies.
Further south, the scattered coral heads become a more solid fringing reef.
Ben’s Blue Hole
At this site there is a horseshoe-shaped ledge with several coral heads growing on the lip. This ledge is a blue hole and part of a large fracture that runs east from the mooring line. By following the fracture over two coral heads, you will find another small blue hole behind the second coral head. Very often you will find jacks, schoolmasters, dogsnappers, porkfish and schools of Creole wrasse by these holes.
Once a car ferry operating in the Carolinas, this vessel was featured in the movie “Halloween”. Sunk in early 1992 in an area of scattered coral heads, schools of silversides, shad, schoolmaster snappers and grouper make their home in and under the wreck.
Shallow sites are generally 10 – 15 feet deep. Perfect for snorkeling, beginning divers, fish watching and picture taking. These reefs offer the most color, fish and coral because of their shallow depths.
This site received its name in the mid-sixties when four young men stumbled on an old Spanish wreck that contained several thousand silver coins. The coins recovered from this area have been estimated to be worth about three million dollars. Today, schools of blue, striped, black and French grunts are prevalent. Wide, white sandy surge channels have formed between the overhangs of Elkhorn, brain and star corals.
Named for its large stands of pillar coral, one on a finger of reef just north of the main reef area, another directly across from the mooring. The south end is hollow, forming a cavern that is usually filled with fish in the late summer – silversides, sometimes glass eyed sweepers or hatchet fish. Occasionally, it can be the lair of a large green moray eel.
North of the mooring, there is a broken bottom with two stands of pillar coral. Hovering over this area are schools of yellowtail goatfish, grunts and sergeant majors. There is mountainous star coral surrounded by a stand of Elkhorn coral. Schools of silversides occupy the cave formed under the coral.
Portions of the television series “Sea Hunt” were filmed here. West of the mooring, there is a large isolated start coral that hosts sea fans and other soft corals. Blue headed wrasse, blue and grey cromus, and sergeant majors swim above the coral head. You may see a dark male sergeant major guarding a patch of purple eggs. The eggs are either attached under the overhand or on the hard bottom below.
This is a very pretty site on the eastern end of a large stretch of coral. At the mooring, there is a blue hole that is about one foot in diameter. This hole will either be blowing or sucking depending on tidal movement. At the eastern end of the reef, you can normally find large school of grunts, snappers or perhaps some Bermuda chub.
Grand Bahama has the second largest underwater cave system in the world, with over 32,000 feet of mapped tunnels. For the fully certified cave diver, this is a must see destination. For the less advanced – or less adventurous – there are several large caverns at the entrance to these caves that make for a truly memorable adventure. Fresh water diving in a cave in the middle of a pine tree forest is an experience not to be missed. For more information on this experience, contact our Adventure Outfitter, Calabash Eco Adventures.
Snorkeling is available as a full or hald day excursion. Snorkelers will be able to explore nearby shipwreck and neighboring cays where they will see starfish, stingrays, moray eels, parrot fish, sea turtles, staghorn and elkhorn corals and much more!