Swim/Scuba/snorkel, Grand Bahama Island
Dolphin Experience is a center that is located on a nine and a half acre lagoon called Sanctuary Bay. The facility offers people the opportunity for several different kinds of experiences with the dolphins. The Dolphin Experience (so says its literature) is a "leader in the marine mammal field of education, research, health, and maintenance of bottlenose dolphins."
Here are the experiences they offer:
DOLPHIN CLOSE ENCOUNTER
You sit with your feet in the water as the dolphins swim around you. You step into shallow water to touch the dolphins and have your photo taken while you hear interesting facts about dolphins.
SWIM WITH DOLPHINS
You actually swim with the dolphins in Sanctuary Bay while they go through a variety of actions. No pregnant women can participate and no children under 12 can participate.
SNORKEL WITH DOLPHINS
On a shallow reef in about 5 meters deep where you sim and dive underwater with the dolphins in the open ocean. Not recommended for pregnant women and children under 16 have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
ASSISTANT DOLPHIN TRAINER
If you participate in this one, you will work directly with the animal care staff doing such work as:
an open ocean training session; basic animal husbandry; cleaning the food preparation area; feeding the dolphins; discussing records and charts. Minimum age is 16. This is an all day experience.
You dive in the open ocean along a coral reef. You have the opportunity to interact with these dolphin in their natural ocean environment.
Allan, Jill, and I participated in the Dolphin Close Encounter Experience.
The diving was fantastic! We did two dives each day for five days. The dives included wreck dives, reef dives, and shark dives! Our dive operator was the best! Grand Bahamas Scuba-Fred Rigor. Each day they picked us up at our hotel around 8:30am (no getting up at 6am on vacation!) The boat left around 9-9:30am. The dive site were within a 30-40min boat ride. There was abundant marine life around all the sites and the wrecks were fabulous! Each dive lasted until your air ran low or you hit you deco limits. Fred and Melinda were great resources but didn't force dive profiles. Each site had a permanent mooring so you had a line to use while descending and ascending if neccessary. The currents were minimal and the visibility was great. The equipment was in very good condition. Their support staff were friendly and kind. They kept you safe but allowed freedom to explore and dive as you wanted. I dove with my two teenagers and we all loved it and would definately use them again! We loved Duncan's wreck, Theo's wreck and Shark Junction!
Paradise Cove is an place that is owned and operated by a wonderful Bahamian family. Barry, the mastermind behind the operation, and his father, assure the safety of both the reef and the snorkelers. Mom runs the gift shop, which has some delightful objects for sale. The concession area is ran by Barry's wife. A couple of beautiful children round out the family presence here. Also, a wonderful Bahamian woman grills some of the best food on the Island, and the bus driver, Nathan, provides island history and a friendly conversation during the included transportation.
The operation is very eco- concious, with an eye on the conservation of the reef and its protective grass bed barriers. Gear and transportation,unlimited snorkeling, as well as a wonderful meal, are part of the package at a very reasonable rate of U.S. $35- lass than most charge for 1 or 2 hours.Fishing, Kayaks, and an evening bonfire are also available. Barry attended UNC- Charlotte as a walk-on basketball player in my home state of N.C.
Several compaines offer snorkeling tors that last for about 2 hours they cost $40. But the company at Deadman'd Reef will pick you up at the hotel in Lucaya and drive you over 20 miles and let you snorkel for as long as you want for just $35! They will also lend you ocean kayaks and feed you lunch, its all included in the $35. This is by all means the best bang for your buck when snorkeling on the island. I have been snorkeling at many places in the world and this place is about average but the locals say it is as good as it gets on the island and Im almost positive they are telling the truth unless of course you can make it to the blue holes.
We decided to do some scuba diving with a company called UNEXSO (Underwater Explorer Society). We had a certified scuba diver give us a crash course in scuba diving using scuba equipment in a local pool to become familiar with the process. After she was certain we wouldn't drown, they took us out on a boat to a remote area and we all dropped in. We did a shallow reef dive which is perfect for beginners where you drop about 20 feet below the surface and check out coral and tropical fish. This was probably my best experience in the Bahamas. The no experience necessary scuba diving was fantastic.
Snorkeling in Paradise Cove is amazing! Its name describes the place perfectly. This is the best place to snorkel, the waters are relatively shallow and very safe (i did see some baracudas but that is natural and they were harmless). For about $30 you get a gear rental and lunch. Transportation is also provided. It is on its own private beach and there is a place to play volleyball as well as a patio area where you can relax and have shade from the sun. The most amazing sight is what lies beneath the water, the fabulous coral reefs filled with life. I saw probably 50 different species of fish and very pretty coral (colored blue, red, yellow, purple).
We limited our diving this trip because we had the children with us. Our first dive was 11ft. I have NEVER done an 11ft. dive before.
I guess they really meant "shallow reef dive"!
Our second dive was at airplane reef where we were joined by two eight foot reef sharks, snapper, dolphin (fish), and several 300 lb. jewfish.
Our third dive was to Jose Wreck. This was a cool, shallow (45') wreck with many juvenile fish.
I was chilly with a full wetsuit.
I have compiled a travelougue for the rest of my dive pictures.
SNorkeling was my favorite activity! It was great.
There was a great reef not far off the beach at Paradise Cove. Up to it was quite shallow. Lots of coral and fish near the reef. But the really neat part was the drop off on the other side of the reef. The water still wasn't too rough, but the fish and coral were bigger on the other side of the reef. So much to see out there!