Exuma Cays, Bahamas, Coral Reef Diving
Ken Riddick underwater photography of Exuma Cays, Bahamas, coral reefs, fish and creatures.
exuma cays, caribbean reef shark
2009 Ken Riddick
hile we may have been disappointed with the poor visibility, especially because the remote Exuma Cays are noted for 100-feet-plus clarity, my dive buddy, Brad Reynolds, and I did a heck of a lot of diving, saw some very cool stuff and had a ball on this recent trip. The pace of the diving made our trip on the live-aboard Aqua Cat remarkable.

Map of the Exuma Cays, Bahamas, and Exumas Land and Sea Park.e
The Exumas comprise a group of remote Bahamian islands that are heralded as "the most pristine area in all the Bahamas." On one side of the island string is the shallow Great Bahama Bank, on the other is the 5000-foot-plus deep Exuma Sound .

Brad and I made an intense dive cruise aboard the 102-foot luxury catamaran between June 6 and June 13, 2009. We arrived Nassau on the evening of the 6th, put my gear aboard and were under way before dawn the following morning.

And, unfortunately, before American Airlines had delivered Brad's gear. We awoke to the first dive of many excellent dives, Brad donning rental gear for the first time in many years. The captain of the boat, Ron McCaslin, (who, it turn out, grew up in our home town of Richardson, Texas) would move a few mountains over the next few days to find Brad's stuff and get it delivered to the boat in these remote reaches.

Before we were done we made 23 dives in 6 days, the most intensive diving I've ever done. The visibility was never more than about 50 feet, some of the reefs were covered in fleshy algae. But we still had an excellent time. There were many sharks, a wide variety of active reef life and easy but fast-paced diving.

And the crew were great, with excellent briefings and a lot of great food.

One of the draws of diving the Aqua Cat is the great number of dives one has the opportunity to make, as many as 5 each day, including night dives.

Built in 2001, The Aqua Cat is 35 feet abeam and she can cruise at a speedy 14 knots. There are 11 cabins. Most are spacious and nice.

We, of course, chose cabin 11, the less expensive of the boat's cabins. Although we were squeezed into a room not much bigger than a closet, we only needed someplace to sleep and keep our stuff. It worked out fine.

While the staff on the Aqua Cat offers other activities like snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, sunbathing, and island exploring, its main focus is diving.

Lots of diving.

The Aqua Cat is relatively inexpensive, costing around $2,000 for the all-you-can-stand diving, excellent cabins, food, drinks and beer. It's more expensive for any of the larger cabins. Thirtytwo percent Nitrox was $100 for the week.

Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of more than 360 islands, mostly uninhabited. The entire chain is 130 miles long and encompasses 176 square miles of usually stunningly clear water, along with dozens of cays, islets, and beaches.

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, located southeast of the Bahamian capital, Nassau, was the first land and sea park in the world. It is also the oldest national park in The Bahamas.

In 1986, the area was established as a no-take fishery reserve to ensure that the numerous ocean creatures were protected.

What follow are 36 images from the trip. I hope you enjoy them a fraction as much as I did making them. There is a link to each following image at the end of each caption. There is also a link to send me an e-mail. Please let me know your thoughts and comments.

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Pictures from other trips:
Roatan | Little Cayman Island | Galapagos | Grand Turk
French Polynesia | Bonaire | Belize | Saba | Exuma Cays

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