Prior to diving into my PADI learning course I read few articles describing the experience. Though, of course, when it came to choosing my dive destination I was selective as to where in the Bahamas I wanted that to be. While in the end it proved to be a thoughtless task, no doubt if the scope of my globe reached further I wouldn’t have found putting pin to map so easy. Here’s how I recommend narrowing down your list and making the most of your dive destination once there.
1. Location Scout: Choose a location truly worthy of exploration. The underwater escape lying adjacent to Kamalame‘s shore topped my list for multiple reasons. Firstly, because it is home to the second largest barrier reef in the Western hemisphere. Secondly, because before dropping in to the Tongue of The Ocean the reef slopes down a vertical cliff and offers different dive levels suitable for the most beginner to the most advanced diver. Lastly, because the beach off the private island resort and residences also gradually declines. On our first dive we submerged ourselves in no more than 7 feet of water – that of a standard pool – and there, at the completion of that day’s skills, hovered over the shallow bottom collecting sand-dollars.
2. E-Learn: Navigate this site and find a dive centre that offers an e-learning component of the course. One you can complete before your visit, therefore freeing up more dive time once you’ve reached your destination.
3. Track Temperatures: Research the best time of year to dive your destination. The colder the water, the thicker the suit you’ll need, the more claustrophobic you might feel, and the more air you’ll use. As the gin-clear waters of the Bahamas average 80°F year-round it is an ideal diving spot all 365 calendar days of the year.
4. Idyllic Conditions: In addition to temperature, visibility and the total number of sunny days are important factors to consider. Diving in low visibility, in shadowed light, can be unsettling and might make you feel even more claustrophobic than you already do in a full suit, mask, weight belt and with a steel or aluminum tank strapped to your back. Below the aquatic horizon of The Bahamas you can expect 80-100 feet visibility, and above a sun that shines approximately 340 days a year.
5. Deal Dive: Include in your pre-dive planning a search for deals and discounts. The Bahamas offers various deals, including instant $100 resort credit and a buy one get one free ticket from Nassau: an ideal deal as you should always dive with a buddy.
6. Flight plan. Plan your departing flight accordingly, for if you fail to, you may spend less time than anticipated underwater. To prevent decompression sickness, PADI recommends a 12-hour minimum pre-flight surface interval for a single dive and an 18-hour interval for repetitive or multi-day dives.
7. Tailor Your Time: Only so many vacation days and facing a time constraint? Research to see if your desired dive centre offers a class that will allow you to complete your open water course in two-and-a-half-days, as opposed to the usual three or four.