Although I am adventurous, I am not a thrill-seeker. But somehow, I found myself forty feet below the waters of the Caribbean while 9-feet sharks circled me. I will share with you my experience of shark diving in the Bahamas.
We had a kind of crazy Christmas last year, which resulted in a last-minute trip to Nassau, Bahamas. There is only one dive shop in Nassau, Stuart’s Cove, so I did no research and booked a dive for the following afternoon.
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How to Shark Dive in Nassau
The dive included a pick-up from our hotel, which went smoothly. When we got into the van, the driver asked if I had booked a two-tank or shark dive. This was the first I had heard about a shark dive. I had to admit this didn’t appeal to me, but my kids were instantly very excited about the possibility of diving with sharks.
When we got to the dive shop, I learned I had signed us for the two-tank, non-shark dive, and the shark dive was sold out. How sad for my kids but excellent for mom.
After everyone had checked in for the dives, they realized that three people hadn’t shown up for their shark dives so we could switch to those. I wasn’t thinking straight and wanted to make my kids happy, so I agreed to participate in this shark dive, still not knowing what I was getting myself into.
The boat ride to our dive sites took about 1/2 hour through canals and calm, open ocean, always staying in view of Providence Island.
Big Crab Shipwreck Dive
The first dive was one of the best of my life. We dove to about 60 feet, where we explored three wrecks that were covered with marine life. The boats had fun places to explore, and the water was clear and warm with expansive visibility. There were many fish, including giant groupers, lionfish, and blue tang.
Near the end of the dive, we saw large Caribbean reef sharks, maybe 20 feet away, which was a wonderful experience and my first shark spotting.
Shark Arena Dive
We then got back on the dive boat and were briefed about the second dive, which was completely different than the first.
Some extra weight was added to our weight belts, and then we were then told to descend 40 feet to a large rock circle in the sand. We were to pick a rock outside the circle and kneel at it for about 40 minutes. Once we were settled, the dive masters would bring in a box of bait and lure the sharks to us.
We would be completely safe from the sharks if we made no sudden movements. If anything happened, like losing our oxygen or falling over, the dive masters would help us so we wouldn’t attract unwanted attention from the sharks.
The dive masters then proceeded to put on helmets and cover their bodies in chainmail.
I was on autopilot after the week we had before. I thought briefly about skipping this part of the dive, then figured you only live once, so I dove into the water.
Once the dive master brought the bait in, sharks surrounded us. Not just one or two, but a lot of sharks. And the sharks were big. And they were close enough to touch us. Sharks are indeed magnificent creatures, and being close to wildlife is always awe-inspiring.
After about ten minutes, my legs started to cramp, and I began to panic. I have been diving for over twenty years and am very confident underwater. But I started freaking out that I would fall over, which would attract a shark. I panicked for about 5 minutes until I remembered that lying down on my stomach was an option. The sharks were across the circle from me, giving me time to act. Once I did, I took a few minutes to concentrate on small transparent shrimp actively interacting with my rock, and then I enjoyed the rest of my experience.
After the sharks were lured away, we could enter the shark arena to look for any teeth the sharks left behind. I was able to find two before I ascended.
How Experienced in SCUBA Should you be to Dive with Sharks in Nassau?
One thing was different with this dive shop than any other I have dealt with. Instead of having one dive master assigned a certain number of divers, all the dive masters watch all the divers. They still have the same ratios but no dive master, specifically, to dive with.
You obviously have a dive buddy, but many people were paired off in threes, and it is hard to keep track of three underwater people. Just this structure makes Stuart’s Cove dive shop better for experienced divers. There were also a lot of people diving at once. I am guessing there were around thirty of us.
Secondly, although there was no swimming in the shark arena dive, you must maintain buoyancy meticulously to kneel for 40 minutes in one place. You can’t really use the rock to help with that.
For these reasons, I feel that this dive experience is better suited for more experienced divers.
I will also share that I usually have no muscle aches after a dive, but my back still hurts a week later from the extra weight, and trying to stay still.
What Kind of Sharks will you See Diving with Sharks in the Bahamas?
Caribbean Reef Sharks
Caribbean reef sharks live in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. They can grow up to ten feet long and are near endangered. They are not particularly aggressive unless food is around but are involved in a few shark bite attacks yearly.
Nurse sharks are much calmer than Caribbean reef sharks, although they inadvertently bite divers yearly. They can grow ten feet long, but the ones we saw were much smaller. They knew the dive masters and were coming to them to get petted.
Would I Dive with Sharks Again?
Am I happy that I had the experience? Hell, yes. Would I dive with sharks again? Hell, no.
Click on this link to see the sharks in action:
Diving with sharks wasn’t ever on my bucket list, but interacting with wild animals makes me more grateful and concerned about my effect on the environment. These animals are incredible and generally leave people alone.
My kids loved every second of this experience, but I was happier diving with docile whale sharks and manta rays in Mexico and would be much more likely to repeat that experience. I also prefer we visited the whale shark where their food source was rather than luring the animals to us.
How to Book Diving with Sharks in the Nassau
The dive is run through Stuart’s Cove Dive Shop. If you don’t SCUBA, they also run shark snorkeling tours.
Have I inspired you to dive with sharks or scared you away?