Everything You Need To Know When Diving The Bahamas

On land, Long Island’s natural hues and ever-changing scenery are equally breathtaking, with rolling headlands, high and dramatic cliffs, peaceful coves, sloping beaches, and secluded shores with talcum-powdery sand sprawling into sun-patterned light blue shallow waters beckon humans seeking to escape the stresses of civilization.

The way of life on the island (as well as the southern out-islands of The Bahamas) is as beautifully enchanting as its landscapes and natural beauty, a place where farming, boat-building, and fishing are among the main commercial activities within the self-contained community. The metropolises and big resorts synonymous with the main islands simply don’t exist on Long Island; it’s a peaceful paradise left untouched by mass tourism — and that adds to its tranquil charm.

What To Know About Long Island, Bahamas

Cultural heritage and history entice further attention; from the Columbus monument at the north end clifftops to caves with interesting pre-Columbian, Amerindian artwork, dry land on Long Island promises more than enough magnificence and fascination for one vacation.

However, even with all the natural splendor, perfect beaches, island culture, historical landmarks, and paradisaical activities on land sufficient for any traveler, one element beats all others; it’s the aquatic alien planet beneath Long Island’s ocean’s surface that really magnetizes worldwide wanderlusters.

Related: Want to Learn to Scuba Dive? Here Are The Best Places For Beginners To Take The Plunge

The Bahamian jewel of Long Island sits in the midst of two contrasting natural wonders.

With the shimmering turquoise Caribbean Sea and the shallows of the Exuma Bank on one side and the deep blue Atlantic on the other to the East, Long Island offers unique colors and underwater planets at opposites — but both with intense, unexploited coral reefs overflowing with tropical marine life.

It’s as clear as the waters surrounding Long Island’s sublime shorelines; the land’s bounty isn’t its sole asset; the ocean is among its greatest, too — and it’s ripe for one of the best things to do on Long Island: an exploration through the magic of snorkeling and scuba diving.

Is Snorkeling At Long Island In The Bahamas Good?

Both sides of Long Island shelter an abundance of reef fish and other marine creatures — all thanks to the diverse marine ecosystems that make homes for hundreds of species, as well as those just passing through. However, although they’re both spectacular, each side of Long Island does feature a distinctively different offshore environment.

The rugged Atlantic coastline boasts corals adapted to this side’s varied ocean conditions.

In fact, along the entire Atlantic shore and the island’s northern end at the protected western side, bounties of shallow coral shelves and heads are submerged below the water’s surface — either right along the shore’s edges or a short distance out.

As a result, this superb side of the island creates incredible snorkeling environments — but more kinetic sea conditions in some parts, which may be better suited to stronger swimmers and snorkelers with experience.

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As for the calmer Caribbean side, it’s another story — but one just as stunning. Along Long Island’s east, breathtaking coral formations, waving soft corals, sea gardens, gorgonian fans, and colorful coral heads with rainbow-hued resident schools of reef fish are commonplace.

Amid these healthy reefs, marine life is accessible and everywhere — a place where giant parrot fish comb the shallows, passing eagle rays take flight, and large grouper display their characterful “miserable” faces.

Even turtles can be observed gliding over the reefs while Angelfish, butterflyfish, triggerfish, and grunts dance over the reef, as smaller critters like crawfish scuttle among the sand and corals, and schools of jacks form glittering underwater clouds.

The island’s southern shore also offers plenty of action; it teems with heavenly coral reefs, many of which snorkelers can explore right from the beach.

Furthermore, The Bahamas counts itself as one of the best places to dive with sharks, where more than ten species are resident, including hammerheads and the tiger shark found at deeper sites, which attract scuba divers in particular.

Although snorkelers may be lucky enough to encounter these pelagic giants occasionally, the sharks typically seen prowling at snorkeling depths are Caribbean reef sharks, lemon sharks, and graceful nurse sharks.

Even without being graced by such sharks, other amazing creatures abound, with various stingrays frequenting many reefs and sandy areas, too.

What Is Long Island Bahamas Famous For?

Of course, Long Island’s rich marine life proliferating within the diverse dive and snorkeling sites on both the Atlantic and Caribbean sides make this spot on The Bahamas map iconic.

Many divers and snorkelers are drawn to these marine sites plush with aquatic species and beautiful corals; however, they’re not the only collective natural attraction. Long Island is famous for many things, but most of all, it’s renowned for being the home of the second-deepest blue hole in the world — Dean’s Blue Hole.

Related: What’s At The Bottom Of Dean’s Blue Hole? & More Answers

Located in a picturesque bay west of Clarence Town (on Long Island’s northern coast), Dean’s Blue Hole is accessible right from the beach as well as by boat.

It comes second depth-wise at 202 meters deep (663 feet) — just behind the Dragon Hole in the South China Sea (also known as Yongle Blue Hole), which plummets to 300.89 meters (987.2 feet).

Can You Snorkel The Long Island Blue Hole (Dean’s Blue Hole)?

It’s good news for excited divers and snorkelers: visitors can go scuba diving and snorkeling at Dean’s Blue Hole, although there aren’t massive amounts in the way of marine life.

A few corals, reef fish, and the odd passing turtle can be observed — but these sightings are nowhere near as exciting as the surreal topography of this eerie, dark, seemingly bottomless blue hole.

Like an enormous mouth opening of a sub-sea monster, this vast, round, vertical tunnel plunges into the deep, somber depths of the pretty, unassuming bay it pierces, attracting snorkelers, scuba divers, and freedivers to marvel at its mind-blowing formation.

Visitors can visit Dean’s Blue Hole freely without a guide or excursion, but they explore it at their own risk. First-timers (and those with no or minimal swimming/snorkeling experience) are advised to explore the site with a local guide, snorkel tour operator, or scuba diving center.

Snorkelers can explore Dean’s Blue Hole, but they’re limited to the shallows (and how deep they can safely dive on one breath). Those who wish to go deeper and get a true sense of how hair-raising this extraterrestrial site is will need to earn an Open Water Diver certification. Some Long Island dive centers even require customers to hold an Advanced Open Water Diver certification at a minimum. Check out this complete guide to each scuba diving course to see how to get certified, as well as learn what each dive course entails.

Where Are The Best Places To Snorkel On Long Island In The Bahamas?

On both the Caribbean and Atlantic sides of Long Island (as well as its southern shores), visitors have lots of excellent snorkeling spots. Some are accessible via diving and snorkeling trips, while others are reachable from the beach.

Specifically, though, snorkeling in Long Island entails over a dozen well-known spots. The best Long Island snorkel sites (based on popularity and fame) are considered to be:

  • Columbus Harbour — the spot where famous explorer Christopher Columbus originally landed on Long Island and anchored his ships in 1492
  • Poseidon Point — one of the island’s special spots where snorkelers can witness big tarpon swimming through the reef
  • Rainbow Reef — a lovely reef where large multi-colored sponges and elkhorn corals create a treat for the eyes
  • Coral Gardens — dramatic caves, underwater valleys, and overhangs decorate the seascapes, while hawksbill sea turtles make the occasional appearance
  • Eagle Ray Reef — breathtaking coral formations and massive friendly groupers populate this spectacular site
  • Flamingo Tongue Reef — an enchanting, healthy reef in every sense; abundant species of fish and coral thrive at this wondrous site bursting with color
  • Newton’s Cay — a site sheltered by lots of coral heads and outer reefs to create a calm, relaxing site for critter watching
  • Turtle Cove — an expansive area of turtle grass full of shells, along with the chance to spot turtles
  • Rock Pools — perfect for people with keen eyes, this area of tidal pools and swim-in sections host lots of life, especially small crabs
  • Cape Santa Maria — just off the beach with white powder sands and blue waters, epic snorkeling spots await, particularly at the beach’s southern sections
  • Watermelon Beach — vibrantly colored parrotfish (a species whose poo is partly responsible for many of the world’s stunning sandy beaches) and small damselfishes put on rainbow-hued spectacles among the enormous expanses of staghorn corals
  • Dean’s Blue Hole — of course, this enchanting yet ghostly blue hole discussed above deserves a second mention!

Where To Stay On Long Island For Snorkeling & Scuba Diving

There’s no lack of beautiful places to stay on Long Island — although, it’s a quieter, laid-back, off-the-beaten-path place that doesn’t have many fancy hotels or affordable Bahamas all-inclusive resorts that other islands seem to have a ton of. But snorkeling and diving specifically, these top-rated Long Island resorts are great for travelers:

Other top-rated snorkeling companies, fishing excursion operators, and boating providers on Long Island include:

When To Go Snorkeling On Long Island, Bahamas

Divided by the Tropic of Cancer, Long Island snorkeling and diving is ideal year-round. Warm temperatures and favorable ocean conditions make snorkeling and diving not only possible but also excellent, no matter the time of year.

Much like many parts of the Bahamas, the island boasts a pleasant tropical climate, with trade winds cooling the hot, humid air; as such, there’s no “wrong” period to visit Long Island if snorkeling or diving is on the cards.

Although temperature-wise, in-water activities are great all year, as the air and water are always invitingly warm. However, the best time to snorkel at Long Island depends on the season.

Winter is said to be the optimal time for snorkeling and scuba diving in Long Island; the weather is bright, dry, and sunny, while underwater viability is at its maximum.

Still, winter sees relatively cool temperatures (ranging from 73° F to 82 °F/23 °C to 28 °C on land and 75 °F/24 °C in the water), which may require snorkelers and divers to wear thicker wetsuits (at least 5 mm thickness) if they wish to stay warm.

In contrast, the summer months experience higher temperatures; it often lingers around 93 °F/34 °C degrees on land and 84 F/29 °C in the water.

Despite summer being a great time of year for thermally challenged snorkelers and divers, occasional rainfall showers the island, which may reduce water visibility and create windier, choppier conditions from time to time.

How To Get To Long Island Bahamas

Travel To Long Island In The Bahamas By Air

Most visitors journey to the island by getting a flight from Nassau airport to Deadman’s Cay Airport on Long Island. The majority of the major airlines operating in The Bahamas fly to Nassau from many parts of the world, so there are usually plenty of options weekly.

Bahamas Air and Southern Charter both offer flights to Long Island, while another possibility is to book a private or shared charter flight with the Stella Maris Resort Air Service. Alternatively, travelers can charter a private flight to Long Island with Island Wings.

When opting to fly into Nassau to hop on a connecting flight to Long Island, it’s advised to choose a flight that will arrive at Nassau by noon at the latest. This is so that there’s enough time to catch the connecting flight the same day to Long Island; otherwise, an overnight stay in Nassau may be necessary.

Travel To Long Island, Bahamas, By Ferry

Bahamas Ferries, which operates many of the interisland ferry crossings in The Bahamas, also offers a route from their hub at Nassau to Long Island.