Bahamas is a place of unforgettable charm and also the home of Stuart Cove's Dive Shop. The town’s
personality speaks of its historic nature and, at
the same time, exudes modern energy. There is a dynamic
downtown area chock full of options for shopping,
where the government sets forth its structure. The
waterfront serves the tourist population well, as
does Bay Street, located only one block inland.
The culture of the Bahamas is heavily influenced
by the lifestyles of the African slaves who
over long ago. Obeah, is a very prominent ‘folk’ religion
in which the followers adhere to a system of beliefs
that speak of the interactions between the spirits
and the living. Most Bahamians belong to “mainstream” Christian
denominations. Those who do belong to a Christian church
are very serious about their practice.
Bahamians are English
speaking, for the most part. Some speak Creole, and
other talk in a language called
patois. Music is an important part of the Bahamian
culture, and they have managed to create their own
forms of music, including ‘rake n scrap’,
and a type called goombay.
The Bahamas is a part of North America, geographically,
and part of the Caribbean, politically.
The archipelago stems
from an underwater mass, which gives rise to about
700 islands and 2500 small cays.
The connection of land stretches far, some 750 miles.
The highest point on the Bahamas is only about 200
feet above sea level.
The islands are, for
the most part, surrounded by coral reefs and sandbanks,
and have barrier reefs along their
eastern Atlantic shores. These reefs offer protection
from the pounding of waves. The sand of the shore
carries across a pinkish tint.
characteristic of the islands is its sinkholes. They
are called ‘blue holes’,
but are essentially just pits filled with water descending
down some 600 feet, leading to underground caves.
The climate of the
islands is dynamic. To the south of the islands,
travelers will find a dryer and less
vegetated region. Cacti are plentiful. In more lush
areas, Bahamian mahogany, pine forests, ferns, palmettos,
and over 1300 other species of plants can be found.
There are, of course, mangroves thriving along the
shorelines. Flowers, such as the Pride of India,
are also prevalent. The Pride of India is an immense
that becomes a mass of lavender when in bloom.
The islands of the
Bahamas lay claim to numerous endangered land mammals,
such as bats. Other species include horses,
donkey, feral cats, and wild boar. One unique mammal
to look for is the hutia, which is a rodent similar
to a guinea pig, but about the size of a cat. Fourty-four
species of reptiles can also be found, often sunning
on rock, including the curly-tailed lizard.
Off land, there is plenty of wildlife giving energy
to the sea. Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins, humpback
and blue whales make these waters their home. The
more elusive spotted dolphins are also present in
What to Do
There seem to be an unlimited amount of things
to do in Nassau, as well as surrounding areas.
a given that travelers will plan a repeat visit
to the islands.
One of the more popular activities is the Swimming with the Dolphins Nassau Bahamas tour, where you actually go into the water with bottlenose dolphins and play and swim with them. They have deep and shallow tours.
For a taste of the
true culture, visit the remote Cat Island where islanders
can be found playing
Obeah, practicing bush medicine, and weaving
of the most attractive beaches are found here,
with pink-sand and creeks running onshore.
Stella Maris is the
place to begin a fishing excursion. Bonefishing seems
to be the most popular, because the
species can be caught year round, but are a challenge
to hook. Fishing for bonefish can be done right from
the sandbanks in the clear waters offshore. In addition
to bonefish, tuna, wahoo, and marlin are sought after.
water-skiing, windsurfing, and sailing can also make
for an unforgettable day
off of Nassau. Travelers can usually find opportunities
to arrange these activities through the resorts in
town. Get to the southern end of the cape at the
reef garden for snorkeling.
Bird watching near
Nassau, like most other tropical destinations, is
rewarding. Over 200 species of birds
call Bahamas their home. Visit Man-O-War Cay, Armbrister
Creek and Inagua National Park for birdwatching,
but the best bird sightings are known to be at Great
Not surprisingly, scuba
diving is a natural choice for adventure activities
in Nassau. Some great dive
sites include Razorback where a limestone ridge
rises and plunges into the Tongue of the Ocean, and
Wall, to the southwest of Bahamas. Brain, elkhorn,
and staghorn corals can be found near Hope Town
to the North.
When it comes to scuba diving, Stuart Cove’s
Aqua Adventures does not miss a beat. Owner Stuart
Cove has years of unique experience in the field of
scuba diving. His credibility has been proven time
and time again over the years. His aptitude was first
qualified when he was hired as a stunt diver for the
film “For Your Eyes Only”, James Bond’s
1977 blockbuster film. It was during this time that
Cove earned his reputation as a top-notch dive instructor,
and ‘shark wrangler’. Following this brush
with fame, Stuart bought his first dive boat on New
Providence Island, which he used to open his dive operation.
Starting out small, in 1978, Cove had time to establish
his business the right way. He focused on customer
service, and diversification. By 1983 he was offering
alternative water sports, such as water-skiing. Cove
also held out his commitment to customer service by
shuttling travelers from their hotels to his dock.
The convenience proved successful for him. His business
grew, and as it grew Cove grew with it. He purchased
a 54-foot flat top dive boat, named ‘Black Coral’.
He also hired an operations manager, Michelle Berlanda.
Together, they worked as film production coordinators
on another Bond blockbuster, ‘Never Say Never
Again’. Stuart Cove’s web site states, “As
part of those responsibilities Stuart personally certified
Mr. Connery and Ms. Bassinger as divers in order for
them to complete their rolls. In addition, Stuart choreographed
underwater fights and again lead the ‘shark wrangling’ team.” In
1992, Stuart Cove was awarded further for his hard
work, and was accepted as the South Ocean Golf Beach & Dive
Resort’s official dive operator. In 1994, Stuart
and Michelle married, and today they remain a strong
alliance, both personally and professionally.
Over the years, Stuart
Cove has become a comprehensive adventure water sports
operation. There are many components
to Stuart Cove’s Aqua Adventures. They are all
very complimentary to one another. Dive Bahamas is
Stuart Cove’s award winning dive center. All
scuba dive tours, courses, and variations of deep-water
activities hale from here. Snorkel Bahamas is Stuart
Cove’s renowned source for snorkel adventures.
Cove states, “Billed as the worlds most exciting
snorkeling adventure, Snorkel Bahamas offers its guests
the chance to visit 3 locations on a single voyage.” SUB
Bahamas is a premiere activity, which involves an underwater
vehicle, of sorts. Cove describes it as a motorcycle
with a giant bubble on top. Adventurers sit in the
vehicle looking through the bubble, as fresh air is
pumped into the area. Fin Photo is Stuart Cove’s
photography and videography business, of the underwater
nature, of course. Guests use this service frequently
to capture and preserve their special moments.
Stuart Cove’s dock is located on the ocean, which
makes for convenience, with some of the most memorable
dive sites within 10 minutes reach.
One of the things that
Dive Bahamas is known for, is its role in ‘Flipper’,
the Elija Wood film shot in 1995, right at Stuart
Cove’s dock, after
it was made into a Bahamian fishing village studio.
Since then, Stuart Cove and crew have used the set
to film both documentaries and news clips.
On site, Dive Bahamas hails a boutique selling
wet wear, gifts, and scuba and snorkeling gear.
also houses Fin Photo, a rental department, gear
storage, and a maintenance garage, and newly renovated
built around customer suggestions.
Stuart Cove is proud
of his fleet of vessels that is the soul of his operation.
Via the Dive Bahamas’ web
site interested parties can find an entire chart detailing
each of the vessels in operation, and their maximum
capacity. If you need a private charter of one of the
vessels is available also.
Dive Bahamas also works
on the front end of the scuba diving experience.
They are a PADI Gold Palm, Universal
Referral, and SDI training facility, which means
that they can certify individuals to scuba dive.
are equipped with a classroom to host courses. Not
only do they teach courses in scuba, they also go
above and beyond and initiate courses in other complimentary
subjects, such as ’Underwater Photography’ and ‘Shark
Dive options are plentiful
with Dive Bahamas. There are the daily Morning 2-tank
dives, which explore the
natural wonders surrounding New Providence Island.
There are the hotel packages and dive only packages,
which strive to show the guest a bit of the best,
with a dive to a wall, and a shallow reef or wreck
may explore a 100 foot freighter in 50 feet of water;
or the famous James Bond wreck in 40 feet of water
or you may dive on the Cessna used in the filming of
JAWS. We decide on the specific site we will be diving
on the actual dive day. This keeps us flexible and
gives us an idea of what the best weather conditions
are and what everyone on the boat would prefer to do,” describes
Cove. In addition to these wonderful options, there
are afternoon 2-tank dives, similar to the morning
dives, All Day Diving Programs, discounted multiple
day dive packages, and, with a minimum of six divers,
a night dive at one of the mysterious ship wrecks.
Outside of the usual dive days, there is also a very
special program called Stuart Cove’s Shark
Adventure, custom made for adrenaline junkies.
There are numerous
sites where the shark dives take place, including ‘Shark Wall’, ‘The
Arena’, or the ‘Runway Wall/Runway’.
These are all great locations for the Caribbean Reef
Sharks to swarm. The first time out, guests will do
a free swim at a wall. During these free swims, the
sharks are expected to follow divers around, as they
pace waiting for the food to be thrown out for them.
It is important to note that no bait is tossed out
at this time. It’s on the second shark-feeding
dive when that happens. The divers place is knelt down
on the sand bottom, while watching as professional
shark feeders place a bait box, release the food, and
try to manage the sharks’ movement. Divers beware.
The sharks do come very close.
Stuart Cove explains
how this daring program got started, “Since
I began my career in diving over 20 years ago, I have
first observed and then interacted with the shark population
around the island of New Providence. Those early experiences
paved the way for our participation in Hollywood blockbusters
such as "Never Say Never Again" and "Jaws
IV: The Revenge" where I worked as the films "Shark
Wrangler". The outgrowth of those experiences
led to the development of our Shark Adventure™ dives
which we offer regularly.”
Stuart Cove also teaches
experienced divers to become professional shark feeders,
and photographers of those
Just imagine, a short trip (provided by Stuart Cove)
from your hotel in Nassau to Stuart Cove’s dock
is all that stands between you and the plethora of
surprises of Stuart Cove’s Snorkel trips. There
are normally three different snorkel locations, the
first being a visit to a shallow reef, at a depth of
15-25 feet. The best choices are reefs such as Nari
Nari, Schoolhouse, Little Elvis, and Goulding Cay.
The second snorkel
site is usually a shipwreck, either a massive tanker,
or one of James Bond’s wrecks,
placed there for the movie set. The tanker, Carib Breeze,
has a mast that reaches to just eight feet below the
surface of the water.
The third stop over
is the most daring. It involves a dip in shark infested
waters. Those who are up for
the challenge, snorkel with Caribbean Reef Sharks.
Cove explains, “When you visit as a snorkeler
- a bait box is lowered on a rope to a depth of 40
feet. That box creates a scent trail that will attract
the animals to the area. However, because the scent
is at depth - the sharks stay close to the bottom.
We then enter the water snorkeling and stay on the
surface observing these magnificent creatures in their
natural environment from above. Once you exit - you
will be able to debunk the myths created by Hollywood
Stuart Cove’s also offers several unique adventure
opportunities, including what he calls his Extreme
Adventure™ - Wall Flying™. This activity
is actually a trip aboard a DPV, or diver propulsion
vehicle. It takes riders through the waters’ depths
at high speeds. In team formation, adventurer seekers
will be swept away to all sorts of nooks and crannies
of the ocean. The Stuart Cove’s web site exclaims, “Watch
out - because you will also swoop through coral valleys
and disappear in small caves along the edge of the
wall…This all day trip will give divers a chance
to experience some of the "Out Islands" of
the Bahamas. Your daylong trip begins by crossing to
the other side of the Tongue-of-the-Ocean and visiting
Andros Island. This is approximately a 25 mile voyage
and takes approximately 1 1/2 hours.” Reaching
depths of 130 feet at times, the DPV takes guests to “blue
holes”, and walls where coral glows with color,
and fish swim.
Designed in the 1990’s, the ‘SUB’ machine
is like no other. ‘SUB’ stands for Scenic
Underwater Bubbles. As mentioned, a ‘SUB’ looks
something like a motorcycle, with the addition of a
large bubble structure on top, where the passenger’s
head goes, and into which air is pumped. You don’t
need a certificate, or any other formal education to
operate a SUB. Stuart Cove provides a short lesson
on how to drive the contraption. Students are quickly
taken out for their money’s worth of fun. In
the water, SUB pilots are escorted down 20 feet, before
set free to explore solo. Safety is a priority with
the SUBs and one way that is ensured is with the use
of buoys attached to the machines preventing the vehicle
from diving too deep. With the use of an underwater
camera, photos can be taken inside the bubble as well.
Although no experience is necessary to enjoy a SUB,
there are some minimum requirements to meet before
being approved as an operator, one being you must be
in good general health.
When to Go
Whether it is by plane or cruise ship, the Bahamas
is easily accessible and affordable from Florida.
Its accessibility from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale
mean ease of travel for international visitors also.
Nassau is known to be the most popular port of calls
in the Caribbean, so its no problem finding the islands
via this route of travel.
Mild temperatures are
a mark of Nassau, and bring people from around the
world, all year round. In the summer
months of June to August, the water temperatures
are comfortable enough for one to spend an entire
it. Winter months can be chilly to the north and
west of the islands. Rain is prevalent May through
when hurricane season threatens.
The busy season in Bahamas is usually December
through April. You can bet that prices will
be highest during
On average, Bahamas
isn’t the cheapest destination
you can find. You should expect to pay about $200 per
day for a pampered holiday, $100 per day for a less
luxurious time and up to $70 for a budget vacation.
If an active vacation
is what you are looking for, Stuart Cove’s Aqua Adventures is a great value.
Most of their prices include hotel transfers, and the
gear necessary for the activity. For instance, the
snorkel trips include complimentary transfers from
your hotel or cruise ship, mask, fins, snorkel and
a snorkeling vest. The price for a full day of delight
is $48 for adults and $24 for children 11 and under.
No matter the dollar
amount, the memories created with Stuart Cove’s Aqua Adventures are sure to be
Cove's Aqua Adventures
Stuart and Michelle Cove
800-879-9832 tel: 954-524-5755
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