Discovering Exuma Cays: A Diver's Paradise in the Bahamas

Exuma Cays is a stunning archipelago of 365 islands and cays in the Bahamas, known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and diverse marine life. For scuba diving enthusiasts, Exuma Cays is a paradise waiting to be explored, with its vibrant coral reefs, dramatic walls, and intriguing shipwrecks. Whether you're an experienced diver or a beginner, Exuma Cays offers an incredible range of dive sites suitable for all levels. In this blog post, we'll dive deep into the world of Exuma Cays diving, providing you with everything you need to know to plan your ultimate diving adventure, from the best dive sites and liveaboards to the best time to visit and our recommendations. Get ready to discover the wonders of Exuma Cays underwater and embark on an unforgettable journey to one of the world's top diving destinations.

Recommendations - Diving at Exuma Cays

The Exuma Cays is the perfect destination for divers seeking a unique and unforgettable underwater experience. With crystal clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and an abundance of marine life, it offers some of the best diving in the Bahamas. Based on the information in this blog post, the best time to dive the Exuma Cays is from November to May, when the waters are warm, calm, and offer excellent visibility.

Explore the Exuma Cays by Liveaboard

For divers looking for a more immersive and convenient experience, we highly recommend a liveaboard with either the Aqua Cat or the Bahamas Aggressor. These boats offer exceptional diving opportunities, comfortable accommodations, and knowledgeable staff to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

A shark swims beneath the Aqua Cat liveaboard, surrounded by clear blue water in the Bahamas.
The Aqua Cat Liveaboard, surrounded by sharks in the Bahamas
The Bahamas Aggressor

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Best Liveaboards to the Exuma Cays

If you're planning a diving trip to the Exuma Cays, choosing the right liveaboard can make all the difference. With so many options available, it can be challenging to decide which liveaboard will offer the best experience for your needs. In this section, we'll highlight some of the best liveaboards to the Exuma Cays, Bahamas, and what makes them stand out from the rest.

Liveaboard 1: Aqua Cat

The Aqua Cat Liveaboard is a luxurious catamaran designed to provide the ultimate diving experience in the beautiful Exuma Cays, Bahamas. With a capacity of up to 30 guests, this vessel offers spacious and comfortable accommodation with 11 large cabins, each featuring individually controlled air conditioning, private bathrooms with showers, and oversized beds for maximum comfort. For families or groups of friends, the twin cabins have fold-down bunks that can be configured to accommodate up to four guests.

The diving facilities include a dive deck which is spacious and well-equipped, with plenty of room for all divers to prepare their gear and get ready for their dive. In addition, Nitrox is available on board for certified divers, providing an enriched air mix that allows for longer bottom times and shorter surface intervals. The Aqua Cat has a dedicated camera station with plenty of space for equipment. Outside showers and a separate rinse for u/w camera are also available for divers to rinse off and clean their gear after a dive

Dining on board the Aqua Cat is a gourmet experience, with a spacious restaurant serving a variety of meals and a choice of main entrees. Special dietary menus, such as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free, are also available upon request. Social areas on the Aqua Cat include a large salon with an entertainment system and video editing area, an alfresco deck with hammocks and a BBQ, and a sun deck perfect for soaking up the tropical sunshine between dives.

The Aqua Cat is designed for a smooth and stable ride, making it an ideal choice for those prone to seasickness. With experienced dive masters and top-notch equipment, guests can explore the diverse and pristine dive sites of the Exuma Cays with ease and safety. Whether you're an experienced diver or a beginner, the Aqua Cat offers a luxurious and unforgettable diving experience in one of the world's top diving destinations.

Price and availability: A trip with the Aqua Cat starts from USD 323 per day. The latest prices and availability of the Aqua Cat liveaboard can be checked here.

The Aqua Cat liveaboard at the Exuma Cays dive sites, Bahamas
The Aqua Cat liveaboard

Liveaboard 2: The Bahamas Aggressor

Experience the ultimate diving adventure with The Bahamas Aggressor, a 100-feet (30 mtr) yacht that offers year-round diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas, including the Exuma Cays. This luxurious vessel boasts of a wide beam and diesel-powered engines that cruise at 12 knots, ensuring comfort, safety, and stability throughout your journey. Accommodating up to 14 guests in privacy and comfort, the boat features five deluxe staterooms with climate controls, standard US outlets, and USB ports for charging electronic devices, and one quad stateroom with two sets of twin beds.

The Bahamas Aggressor is equipped with top-notch facilities to make your diving experience unforgettable. The large dive deck includes individual dive lockers, a camera station with low-pressure air hoses, and two hot, fresh water showers. The vessel also features a roomy, air-conditioned salon and dining area with an entertainment system, a partially covered sundeck complete with loungers and a hot tub, and a shaded outdoor cocktail deck and lounge. Moreover, guests can use the photo editing computer available onboard to enhance their underwater photos.

During your stay on The Bahamas Aggressor, you can enjoy nightly entertainment options such as fish identification presentations, movies, and games, with guests encouraged to bring their favorite digital media to share. The staff also maintains a small library of books for exchange and fish identification books for reference. All meals, snacks, and beverages are provided.

Price and availability: A trip with the Bahamas Aggressor to the Exuma Cays, Bahamas, starts at USD 281 per day. The latest prices and availability of the Bahamas Aggressor can be found here.

View of the Bahamas Aggressor liveaboard yacht with blue ocean water in the background
The Bahamas Aggressor

Liveaboard 3: Blackbeards Morning Star

Blackbeard's Morning Star is a budget-friendly liveaboard that offers dive trips year-round to the Bahamas' renowned dive sites. Blackbeard's Morning Star is a member of the Blackbeard's Fleet and shares an identical design with its twin ship, Blackbeard's Sea Explorer. Morning Star has three dormitory-style cabins, which feature either single or double bunk beds with a privacy curtain. Each air-conditioned cabin has three shared bathrooms. During surface intervals, guests can relax on the bow or socialize with fellow divers in the indoor air-conditioned salon. All meals, snacks, and drinks, including beer, wine, and Rum Punch, are included during your stay.

The Morning Star offers custom-built diving excursions in the crystal-clear waters of the Exuma Cays. With over 250 moored dive sites, the captain and crew will take you wherever conditions and weather permit the best diving in the area. The boat is non-diver friendly, and snorkelers can enjoy exploring the shallow reefs. The vessel features outdoor dining, and guests can choose from a variety of Western, local, vegetarian, and vegan food options served buffet-style. There is also a fine wine selection, free soft drinks, and snacks available all day.

As for diving amenities, the Morning Star has DIN adaptors and rinse hoses available. The dive deck features a separate rinse for underwater cameras.

Price and availability: A trip with the Blackbeard Morning Star liveaboard starts at USD 151 per day. The latest prices and availability of the Morning Star can be checked here.

The Blackbeard Morning Star liveaboard at sunset in the Bahamas
Blackbeard Morning Star liveaboard

The Best Dive Sites of the Exuma Cays

The Exuma Cays is a pristine and beautiful collection of islands and cays surrounded by crystal-clear waters, and is known to be a world-renowned dive destination. With over 365 cays, this stunning archipelago offers a plethora of dive sites, each with its unique marine life, topography, and diving conditions. Whether you are an experienced diver or a beginner, there is something for everyone to explore in the Exuma Cays. In this section, we will take you through the best dive sites in the area, giving you a glimpse of what to expect and the highlights of each dive site.

Dive site 1: The Washing Machine

The Washing Machine is a thrilling dive site located in the beautiful Exuma Cays of the Bahamas. This dive site is known for its intense and exciting water movements, which can provide a unique and thrilling diving experience. The average diving depth of the Washing Machine is around 40 feet (12 meters). The Washing Machine dive site starts at around 16 feet (5 meters) and goes down to around 50 feet (15 meters).

The Washing Machine gets its name from the strong currents that surge through the dive site, creating an experience that is often compared to being inside a washing machine. These currents create a circular motion that can take divers on a wild ride, spinning them around in circles as they explore the beautiful underwater world of the Bahamas.


  • The boat will move to the dropping point (starting point of the Washing Machine dive site). Make sure that you are ready to jump quickly into the water after each other and follow the dive guide(s). Also note that the current can be strong, so make sure you will descend immediately, join your diving buddy and finally join the diving group.
  • If you don't want to experience the Washing Machine, you can swim on the left/right side of the Washing Machine. You will still experience a strong current, but will not be ''washed''.
  • Make sure that you keep an eye on your equipment when you are in the washing machine. The second stage should be well secured (don't let it dangle around) and keep your hand close to your mask/regulator so you won't lose it.

In addition to the thrilling water movements, the Washing Machine is also home to a diverse range of marine life. Divers can expect to see a variety of fish species, including colorful reef fish, barracudas, jacks and turtles. The site is also known for its impressive coral formations, including brain coral, staghorn coral, and elkhorn coral.

The water temperature at the Washing Machine is typically warm and pleasant, averaging around 80°F (27°C) year-round. Diving conditions are generally good, with visibility ranging from 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 meters) depending on weather conditions. Note that you can experience a (strong) current throughout the entire dive.

Overall, the Washing Machine is a must-visit dive site for any diving enthusiast traveling to the Bahamas. With its unique and thrilling water movements, stunning marine life, and pleasant diving conditions, it's no wonder why this dive site is considered one of the best in the Exuma Cays.

Dive site 2: The Cathedral

Cathedral is one of the most spectacular dive sites in the Exuma Cays, offering a truly unique and awe-inspiring experience for divers. With an average depth of 60-70 feet (18-21 meters), Cathedral is suitable for advanced divers who are comfortable with deep dives.

This site is famous for its towering coral formations, creating a series of swim-throughs that lead divers to a large cavern with a natural skylight. The cavern, also known as the "cathedral," is a breathtaking sight to behold with its limestone walls and incredible acoustics. The water temperature ranges from 75-80°F (24-27°C) in the winter months and 80-84°F (27-29°C) in the summer.

Divers can expect to encounter a variety of marine life, including colorful schools of fish, rays, and the occasional shark. The Cathedral is home to many species of fish, including butterflyfish, angelfish, and parrotfish.

Safety: It's important to note that diving the Cathedral requires the appropriate certification and experience due to the depth and swim-throughs. Divers should also be aware of potential hazards, such as strong currents and low visibility. Following the instructions of the dive guides is crucial for a safe and enjoyable dive. With proper preparation and guidance, Cathedral is an unforgettable dive site that shouldn't be missed.

Dive site 3: Austin Smith Wreck

The wreck of Austin Smith, once called the HMBS Flamingo, boasts a fascinating backstory that only adds to the intrigue of this sought-after dive site. Originally built as a 90-foot vessel for the Bahamian Defense Force, the ship was retired in 1995 with plans to repurpose it as an artificial reef. Located just off Norman's Cay in the Exuma Cays, this 90-foot wreck sits in 60 feet (18 meters) of water and is home to an abundance of marine life, including groupers, schools of jacks, and colorful reef fish.

Diving conditions at the Austin Smith Wreck are generally good, with clear waters and temperatures ranging from 75-85°F (24-29°C). The site is accessible to all levels of divers, and there is plenty to see both inside and outside the wreck. However, it's important to note that penetration of the wreck is not recommended for inexperienced divers or those without the proper training and equipment.

Dive site 4: Blacktip wall

Blacktip Wall is a spectacular wall dive site in the Exuma Cays, known for its diverse marine life and the fascinating story of how it became famous. The site gained its popularity after Ned Deloach, co-author of Reef Fish Identification and other marine life identification guides, discovered the rare Lemon Goby here. Divers can expect to see a variety of marine creatures, including schools of colorful fish, large pelagic species, and even hammerhead sharks in the deeper waters.

The average depth of this dive site is around 50 feet (15 meters), and the water temperature ranges from 75 to 82°F (24 to 28°C), making it a comfortable spot for intermediate to advanced divers to explore. With its rich marine biodiversity and interesting history, Blacktip Wall is a must-visit for any diver exploring the Exuma Cays.

Dive site 5: Amberjack Reef

Amberjack Reef is a popular dive site located in the Exuma Cays of the Bahamas. This reef starts at a depth of 25 feet (7.6 meters) and drops down to a maximum depth of 50 feet (15 meters). The site is known for its clear waters, abundant marine life, and varied topography, making it a great spot for both beginner and experienced divers.

Divers can expect to encounter a variety of marine life at Amberjack Reef, including schools of colorful tropical fish such as angelfish, parrotfish, and blue tangs. Additionally, divers may see larger marine creatures such as nurse sharks, barracudas, and even eagle rays. The reef itself is covered in colorful corals and sponges, providing a beautiful underwater landscape for divers to explore.

The water temperature at Amberjack Reef ranges from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 29 degrees Celsius) year-round, making it a comfortable dive site for most divers. However, as with any dive site, conditions can vary, so it is important for divers to check the weather and diving conditions before entering the water.

Dive site 6: Jeep Reef

Jeep Reef is a unique dive site in the Exuma Cays, known for its fascinating underwater landscape and diverse marine life. The reef is named after a Jeep that was purposefully sunk here in the 1980s to create an artificial reef. The dive site has an average depth of around 40-50 feet (12-15 meters) and offers excellent visibility year-round. Divers can expect to see a variety of fish species, including angelfish, yellowtail snappers, and grunts. Other marine life commonly seen at Jeep Reef include reef sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles.

The water temperature in the Exuma Cays ranges from 75-85°F (24-29°C) throughout the year, making it comfortable for diving. Jeep Reef is a great dive spot for both beginner and experienced divers.

Dive site 7: Cracked Coral Head

Cracked Coral Head is a shallow dive site located in the Exuma Cays, known for its impressive coral formations and diverse marine life. The site is suitable for all levels of divers, with an average diving depth of 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters). Cracked Coral Head is a large coral formation that rises up to 40 feet (12 meters) from the ocean floor. In addition, divers can explore the cracks and crevices of the coral head and discover the hidden treasures of this unique dive site.

Divers can expect to encounter a variety of colorful reef fish, such as sergeant majors, butterflyfish, and angelfish, as well as larger species such as barracudas and nurse sharks. The coral formations are also home to smaller critters like nudibranchs and shrimp.

The water temperature at Cracked Coral Head ranges from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 29 degrees Celsius) year-round, making it a comfortable diving spot no matter the season. Diving conditions are generally calm, with good visibility and little to no current.

Dive site 8: Pillar Wall

Located in the beautiful waters of the Bahamas, Pillar Wall is a breathtaking dive site that offers a unique experience for divers of all levels. This spectacular wall dive starts at a depth of 30 feet (9 meters) and slopes down to 50 feet (15 meters) before plunging 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) to the seafloor. The site is home to an array of caves and crevices, making it a fascinating spot to explore.

One of the main attractions at Pillar Wall is the large colony of Yellowhead jawfish that can be found. Divers can also expect to encounter a wide range of marine life, including colorful fish, turtles, lobsters, and even the occasional shark. The visibility is generally excellent, making it an ideal spot for underwater photography. Water temperatures range from 75-85°F (24-29°C) throughout the year, with the warmest temperatures typically occurring in the summer months.

The Best Diving Centers of the Exuma Cays

The Exuma Cays are known as one of the world's top diving destinations, with crystal clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life. While diving with a local diving center can be a great option for exploring the area's underwater treasures, we highly recommend experiencing the Exuma Cays dive sites by a Liveaboard, which allows for more comfort, flexibility and access to a wider range of sites. However, we have included our selection of the best Exuma Cays diving centers below.

Diving Center 1: Dive Exuma

Located at the Government Dock in Georgetown, Great Exuma, Bahamas, Dive Exuma is a PADI diving center offering various scuba diving services such as daily dives, PADI courses, snorkel tours, and private charters. The diving center prides itself on providing exceptional service and prioritizes the safety of their guests during diving experiences. Dive Exuma specializes in small groups and accommodates up to eight divers on their 36ft Twin Vee catamaran. Dive trips are tailored to the preferences and skill levels of the divers and take place in the mornings. Snorkeling charters and courses are offered in the afternoons.

Diving Center 2: Staniel Cay Adventures

Staniel Cay Adventures is an exceptional boutique scuba diving center located on Staniel Cay island. They offer a personalized service that is tailored to small groups of six or fewer, ensuring that guests receive unparalleled attention and care throughout their journey. Their experienced staff pays attention to every detail, from tailor-made service to post-dive snacks and fluffy towels.

The diving routine is effortless, as divemasters are responsible for only 2 to 6 people per diving group, ensuring safe and quality scuba diving. Their divemasters take care of all the equipment, from setup to disassembly, and the crew handles washing and changing tanks, leaving guests with nothing to worry about.

Staniel Cay Adventures offers a range of dive trips and courses that are tailored to their guests' needs. Dive locations are chosen daily based on weather, tides, and currents to ensure the best possible diving experience. Their exceptional divemasters and instructors enhance the experience by offering guidance on each dive.

For those seeking a more casual adventure, Staniel Cay Adventures also offers snorkeling and guided tours.

Best time to dive and visit the Exuma Cays

The best time to visit and dive the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas is from November to May. During this time, the weather is generally sunny and dry, with temperatures averaging between 70-80°F (21-27°C) and water temperatures ranging from 75-80°F (24-27°C). The visibility is typically excellent, and the seas are generally calm, making it ideal for diving and snorkeling. However, be aware that the peak season for tourism is during the winter months, so it's recommended to book accommodations and activities in advance.

From June to October, the weather can be more unpredictable due to the hurricane season, with increased rain and storm activity. Additionally, the water temperature and visibility may vary, making it more challenging for diving and snorkeling. Therefore, it's recommended to check weather and sea conditions before planning a trip during these months.

How to get to Exuma Cays

The Exuma Cays, located in the Bahamas, are a secluded and beautiful destination that requires some effort to reach. The most common way to get there is by flying to the capital city of Nassau and then taking a domestic flight to either Great Exuma or Staniel Cay. Several airlines offer daily flights to these destinations, including Bahamasair and Southern Air. Alternatively, visitors can take a private charter flight or a sea plane from Nassau or Miami directly to their desired destination within the Exuma Cays.

Another option is to travel by boat. There are several marinas in Nassau and Florida that offer charter services to the Exuma Cays. Visitors can rent a sailboat, powerboat, or catamaran and enjoy a scenic journey through the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas.

Once visitors arrive on the islands, they can either explore the area on their own or book tours and activities through local tour operators.

By Liveaboard

Many visitors also choose to stay on a liveaboard and dive their way through the Exuma Cays, allowing them to experience the beauty of the area both above and below the water. It's worth noting that most liveaboard diving trips to the Exuma Cays depart from Nassau. The liveaboards offer a unique diving experience, allowing divers to explore remote and untouched dive sites that are not accessible from land-based operations.

Regardless of how visitors choose to get to the Exuma Cays, they are sure to be rewarded with breathtaking scenery, friendly locals, and some of the best diving in the world.

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