Dean of Education for MatadorU Josh Johnson spends a weekend in the Bahamas in, on, and underwater.
Outside the window of the plane the turquoise expanse was wrinkled with waves, a wimpled sea of tiny whitecaps. The plane descended on a thin slice of land (Eleuthera Island) in the midst of this massive blue. Water, needless to say of a 700+ island archipelago nation, is everywhere. It is the rare absence of water that allows a tree to grow, a man to live, and a plane to land. Buckled into the narrow-aisled inter-island jet, I suddenly felt dry as parchment — my eyeballs squeaked in their sockets. I needed to submerge.
All photos: Author
I exited the plane with Matt Long of Landlopers.com and joined our glad escort, Glenda. It wasn’t 30 seconds after our meeting that we were on the water (00:09) speeding along by the benefit of powerful dual Yahamas to Harbour Island.
Entering the sprawling oceanfront property that is The Dunmore (00:16), I only stopped in the lobby long enough to politely sip a welcome Goombay Smash (lots of rum, lots of pineapple juice, the first of many) before I was in the turquoise, sun-splattered water I’d lusted after from the plane.
A GoPro and a snorkel mask are my modus operandi, so I got to it — diving and dervishing in the clear Caribbean (00:30). This was the first test run of my new Hero3 black edition (still had that new GoPro smell), and I was stoked to see that it shoots super clean underwater footage. For the next three days I passed my time in the Bahamas in water, on water, or within a stone’s throw of the wet stuff. Not the worst way to spend a January weekend.
Bahamas aqua highlights
Snorkeling Cistern Rock
Lil Shan’s Watersports will take you out snorkeling for $50, and one of your options is Cistern Rock. The reef system is not extensive — there’s nothing dramatic about the site, but it is very pleasant. I saw and startled a young turtle and it took off post haste (01:12), still chewing its mouth full of sea grass. I set the camera beside a little rise of coral and swam away, recording to allow the fish to swim past the lens without the distraction of my bumbling. The effect is mesmerizing (00:45).
Peering over the Glass Window Bridge
The Glass Window Bridge is a slim concrete crossing over a sliver of ravaged rock. A Google Earth view shows this bridge as the stark division of two bodies of water. The deep, true blue of the Atlantic pounds the island on one side and the tranquil turquoise of the Caribbean laps at the other. Standing over this divide is bizarre — two seemingly opposing worlds are held apart by the barest thread.
Braving the Queens Bath
On a sunnier, calmer day — on a day when a doozy wasn’t blowing down from the Eastern Atlantic — the Queens Bath would have probably been a peaceful enclave. But today that comeliness is dashed by the awesome, unpredictable power of swells heaved against bare rock by an incoming storm (01:12).
Snorkeling South Eleuthera
Somewhere off the coast of South Eleuthera we stopped the fishing boat and I dove in. The water was a good depth, about 20 feet or so, perfect for snorkeling because there is so much room to move. The clarity of the water lends to massive visibility (00:34), so the diver glides through a yawning cathedral of water. I watched a pair of cuttlefish shift their coloration from pearl to rainbow as they darted away. I saw scared crabs scuttle, guppy schools swarm, and a lion fish barely tolerate my presence as I carefully filmed its spectacular barbed fins (01:46).
[Josh traveled as a guest of Bahamas Tourism.]