Exuma Cays Liveaboard: A Diver's Paradise in the Bahamas
Liveaboards in Exuma offer divers the chance to explore a diverse range of dive sites, from vibrant coral reefs to mysterious blue holes and exciting drift dives. The clarity of the water in the Exuma Cays is almost unparalleled, with visibility often exceeding 100 feet.
About Exuma Liveaboard Diving
Divers can expect to see an array of marine creatures from tiny, colorful reef fish to larger pelagics.
The Exuma Cays are an archipelago of 365 islands and cays that form part of the Bahamas, stretching over 130 miles through the heart of the Caribbean Sea. This enchanting chain of islands is known for its sapphire-blue waters—so clear that astronauts have proclaimed the Exumas to have the 'clearest waters on our planet' from their vantage point in space.
The history of the Exumas is a colorful tapestry that weaves together tales of Lucayan Indians, European explorers, and infamous pirates. Before the arrival of Europeans, the Lucayans inhabited these islands for centuries, living off the abundant marine resources. In 1492, Christopher Columbus is believed to have made his first landfall in the New World on the island of San Salvador, to the east of Exuma. The arrival of Europeans brought disease and slavery, which wiped out the native populations within 25 years.
The Exumas later became a haven for pirates in the 18th century. The numerous cays and hidden coves provided perfect hideouts for notorious pirates like Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, and Calico Jack. It is said that many of the secluded spots within the Exuma Cays still harbor pirate treasures.
By the late 1700s, after the Age of Piracy had declined, loyalists from the American Revolutionary War settled in the islands, establishing cotton plantations with slave labor. However, this industry did not flourish for long due to poor soil conditions and the eventual abolition of slavery.
When it comes to diving, the Exuma Cays are unmatched in their variety of underwater experiences. Divers can explore walls and drop-offs that plunge into the abyss, navigate through caverns and tunnels, and visit healthy coral reefs teeming with life. Diving within the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is particularly spectacular, as fishing has been banned for decades, allowing the ecosystem to thrive.
Exuma Dive Sites
Thunderball Grotto: Famous for being featured in the James Bond movie "Thunderball," this site is a marine cavern teeming with exotic fish and soft corals. Snorkelers and divers alike can enjoy this site as it's shallow enough for both activities.
The Washing Machine: A unique dive where tidal changes create a natural ‘washing machine’ effect that gently tumbles divers around – a thrilling experience for the adventurous diver!
Amberjack Reef: A haven for photographers, this reef is abundant with marine life, including the eponymous amberjacks, and offers a vibrant tableau of coral formations.
Water temperatures in Exuma are typically warm, ranging from 76-84°F (24-29°C), making it comfortable for extended dives. The dive sites can accommodate all levels of divers, though some may require more experience due to currents or depth.
The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, one of the world's first protected marine areas, offers a haven for undersea life and underlines the Bahamas' commitment to marine conservation. Nurse sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles are common, and the reefs are bustling with activity from the likes of angelfish, parrotfish, and barracuda.
Exuma liveaboard itineraries typically include also trips to Austin Smith Wreck.