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Shark Week, The Bahamas Edition

In honor of Shark Week, we’re showcasing our experiences with some of the best Bahamas’ shark spots.

Feeding a nurse shark in Compass Cay

From friendly to fiercesome, you can find a range of species making their home among the 700+ Bahamian islands and cays. We’ll give you a glimpse of our experiences with them at Compass Cay, Conception Island, and in the Jumentos.

Compass Cay

The best place to get up close and personal with dozens of relatively harmless nurse sharks is located 65 miles southeast of Nassau. Compass Cay is home to a large population of these bottom feeders who prefer crustaceans, stingray and the steady flow of marina scraps over humans for snacks. Toss out a few pieces of stale bread from your boat and they’ll be swarming around in no time. You can pet them, take pictures, and even join them in the water if you’re feeling adventurous. Their skin feels like wet leather and even though they’re benign, their beady eyes and slithering motion still make them seem ALL SHARK.

Nurse sharks at Compass Cay

Up close and personal

You can read more about our time at Compass Cay here.

Conception Island

Only accessible by boat or seaplane and mostly surrounded by a maze of coral reef, Conception Island offers unparalleled snorkeling and fish spotting. Which, also means unparalleled amounts of shark food. This “out island” is surrounded by deep Atlantic waters (as opposed to the more shallow sandbanks of the Exumas) that run right up to the shore of the island, which provides an attractive habitat for the sharks.

It was among these reefs that Christie set a new speed swimming record when she spotted a shark less than 50 feet away. A blacktip reef shark, about four feet long, was hovering near a reef as she rounded the corner and locked eyes with it. Most likely the shark was searching for small easy-to-snag reef fish (not a skittish swimmer) so we respectfully changed our direction and continued taking in the majestic underwater show.

Snorkeling the reef at Conception Island

For more about our time at Conception Island, click here.

The Jumentos

The Jumentos are the southernmost islands of the Bahamas. They’re pure wilderness with only a few small settlements that are home to the hardiest of islanders who share their waters with the largest and fiercest of Bahamian sharks.

Down there, you’ll likely spot large hammerheads, bull sharks, black tips, tigers and nurse sharks in abundance. And often times they’re swimming right by your anchored boat as the sharks are lured into the shallow waters by all the fish scraps tossed overboard from the plethora of fisherman in the area.

While there, we spotted a hammerhead behind Kaleo and swam with a few aggressive reef sharks who wanted the fish Matt had speared. He graciously obliged their demand and swam away from his catch (i.e.; their snack). If you’re ever that far south, be sure to keep your eyes peeled while in the water as you’re sure to be sharing your playground.

Well hello there!

Our trip to the Jumentos can be found here.

Conception Island

We left Thompson Bay, Long Island on Tuesday morning with plans for a beautiful sail to Conception Island*, a remote uninhabited island northeast of us.

Christie exploring the beach cliffs

The day started benign enough as we  sailed up the protected waters along Long Island. As we rounded the top of the island into the open Atlantic, the sea state worsened making for a rough sail the rest of the way (another 15 miles, 3.5 hours).

We navigated around a reef and into the anchorage where we dropped the hook in translucent blue waters that lapped up to a perfect sandy beach. Conception Island is secluded, small and is surrounded on all sides by deep ocean (unlike the Exumas, which have shallow sand banks on one side) which makes the anchorage a little rolly but provides access to amazing reefs. The only way to the island is by boat and despite a few others in the anchorage we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

Upon waking up the next morning, we headed to the beach to peruse for sea beans, shells, and flotsam treasures. Then the gals enjoyed a swim in the crystal blue waters while the guys tossed around the Frisbee.

Matt leaping for the Frisbee catch

Exploring a small cave

A fun hike up to the point

Hiking up the dune

A beach junk swing

In the heat of the day we snorkeled with “MG” on reefs just a few hundred yards from where Kaleo was anchored. It was some of the best yet in about 10 feet of water with coral heads that rose almost to the surface. With a little current flowing against us, fins were in full gear as we snaked through cuts in the coral toward what seemed liked endless heads rising from deeper and deeper water. Rainbow-colored reef fish scurried about as we marveled at the staghorn and brain coral of this underwater city.

The highlight of the snorkel trip (if you want to look at that way) was Christie setting a new speed swimming record when she spotted a shark less than 50 feet away. A blacktip reef shark, about 3-4 feet long, was hovering near a reef as she rounded the corner and locked eyes with it.

After propelling herself away like a jet ski, we all caught up and decided that the shark was likely looking for easy-to-catch small reef fish (not a skittish swimmer). S0 we continued on the beautiful coral sightseeing tour and then returned to the boats for showers, dinner and a movie.

With appreciation for yet another beautiful island, unique in its own way, we charted a course for our next stop to Rum Cay.

*No attempts for baby-making were made during the stay on this island.

N 23° 51.07 / W 75° 07.27

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