Grand Bahama Island
Grand Bahama is the second most frequent destination of choice for tourists visiting The Bahamas. The island's popularity is a function of its geography as well as its development. Close to the east coast of Florida, the island offers minimal travel time and inexpensive air connections. Miles of sandy beaches and consistently warm weather were the attractions for the first tourists who discovered this massive island (75 miles long by 15 miles wide) in the early 1960s. Developers have created an infrastructure for visitors that includes lush golf courses, magnificent resort hotels, lavish gambling casinos, extensive duty free shopping and, of course, exciting watersports.
Freeport is the center of tourism for the island and evolved as the brainstorm of financier Wallace Groves. He knew that with proper government concessions, a free port could be a profitable development. By 1955, the Hawksbill Agreement, outlining the role of the government and private sector in the destiny of Freeport, was drafted but it really wasn't until tourism became a significant part of the equation that the project began to truly flourish. In 1965, Groves offered Canadian businessman Frank Strean a large piece of waterfront property in Lucaya at no expense if he would build and manage a pair of hotels. One of the hotels, the Oceanus Inn North (now defunct) would be themed to traveling divers. The Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO) was the diving service and, for the first time, there was a resort that offered air compressors, dive boats, a deep water training pool and qualified dive staff, all on the hotel premises. The infrastructure of a true destination dive resort had been created but it was the underwater attractions that made it work.
Grand Bahama, the Little and Great Abaco Islands, are the exposed portions of the Little Bahama Bank. Formed by sedimentation of oolitic facies of inorganic origin, the island is part of a limestone platform thousands of feet thick. The shallow waters of the bank and the extensive mangrove forests that line the shores provide a prolific marine nursery. Off the south side of the island lies the Northwest Providence Channel and Florida Channel, two mile deep chasms typified by water of startling clarity and rich with pelagic life The confluence of these ecosystems provide scuba divers with a combination of magnificent shallow, medium depth and deep reefs, plus dramatic drop-offs. Yet it is, in some respects, dive that were created rather than discovered that are presently the most popular.
Theo's Wreck is a 230 foot steel freighter sunk as a dive attraction in 100 feet of water in October of 1982. She now lies on her port side and has acquired an impressive cloak of of sponges and gorgonians to provide colorful contrast to the exciting marine life residing in an arround the wreck. Turtles and Horse Eyes Jacks commonly cruise the perimeter of the wreck; both Spotted and Green Motay Eels can be found in the superstructure. In fact one or two Green Morays will usually swim out to greet the divers on Theo's , having been conditioned to expect a handout from the Divemaster.
DOLPHlN DIVING: Divers dream of diving/swimming with dolphins. We know these mammals are extremely intelligent and are fascinated by their joyful, playful existence. Being able to join them in their world is the experience of a lifetime. Getting close enough to take pictures or shoot videos is exhilarating. The Bahamas offers two of the best and most reliable opportunities in the world to closely interact with dolphins. Both happen only with UNEXSO off Grand Bahama: (see the section on Dolphin Diving for details).
Fish feeding has achieved its pinnacle of success with a dive known as Shark Junction. Here, amid high profile coral heads in about 50 feet of water and marked by an old recompression chamber sitting on the ocean floor, Caribbean Reef Sharks were occasionally seen. Once divemasters began feeding the groupers and clouds of Yellowtail Snappers, however, the sharks began to become more curious and bold. After months of conscious effort to get the sharks close enough to take bait, a few would occasionally nip at the proffered handout. Gradually, over a period of several years, these sharks were conditioned to take bait from the divemaster's hand.
Now their reticence is a thing of the past. As soon as the divers hit the water at Shark Junction they will see these handsome predators circling the coral heads. The divers will settle to the sand bottom with the old recompression chamber at their backs and the dive staff will begin their feeding ritual. More than a dozen sharks will bolt to the bait, swirling about the feeder, rushing to gobble their share of the handout. This is an amazing photo opportunity and a chance to see these sleek eating machines at work, safely and reliably.
The natural underwater attractions of Grand Bahama are also favorites of traveling divers. Tunnels is named for the swim through surge channels populated by large schools of jacks, Mutton Snappers and Yellowtails and Pygmy Caves is a 65 foot reef featuring caves and caverns within the extensive coral formations. Ben's Caverns, a part of the amazing Lucayan Cavern complex reputed to be the most extensive and decorated underwater cave system in the world, offers sport divers a safe opportunity to experience the astounding water clarity and majestic submerged stalactites and stalagmites.
UNDERWATER EXPLORERS SOCIETY (UNEXSO)
(954) 351-9889, FAX (954) 351-9740, (242) 373-1244
PO BOX 22878 - Ft Lauderdale, FL 33335
WWW site - http://www.unexso.com
E-Mail - email@example.com
XANADU UNDERSEA ADVENTURES
(954) 462-3400, (809) 352-3811, FAX (809) 352-4731
PO Box F-40118
Freeport, Grand Bahama
Neal Watson's Undersea Adventures
P.O. Box 21766
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33335
WWW site - http://www.nealwatson.com/xanadu.htm
E-Mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
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