To say this season has been one of the best yet is a bit of an understatement. Tiger Beach has consistently been getting better and better and we have enjoyed every minute of it! We have been averaging 5 species on most dives, including Tiger, Reef, Lemon, Great Hammerhead, and Bull sharks. The nurse sharks are around but have been least likely of the 6 species we can expect to see to show up on our dives.
Here’s a short video to give you an idea of what the dives have been like:
January – March Dive Stats
Water Temperature: 77 – 79 F (25 – 26 C)
Dive Site Depths: 20 – 35 feet (6 – 10 meters)
Average Visibility: 60 – 100 feet (18 – 30 meters)
Average Dive Time: 80 minutes
This time of year is definitely hot at the beach! The dives have been incredible! We have had to contend with a bit of weather, but overall the divers have had their fill of sharks! Make sure when you’re planning a trip out during this peak season that you plan for weather. We recommend reserving a minimum of three dive days as well as securing dive specific travel insurance (www.DAN.org or www.DiveAssure.com) that will cover for lost days of diving due to weather cancellations. And don’t worry, as long as we’re able to make it out to the dive site, we’ll show you the very best that Bahamas Shark Diving has to offer!
We’re already filling in our 2020 calendar quickly, so let us know if you’re interested in getting in on the action!Check out our Tiger Beach Diving Packages here and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
We had an awesome time during our combined Dive Photo Guide/Prawno Apparel trip to dive Tiger Beach and Bimini’s Great Hammerheads. The trip was not without challenges courtesy of Mother Nature, but we were able to strategize as a team and get the most out of our dive time! With Bimini out of the equation because of weather challenges, the stars aligned and we spent all of our dives at Tiger Beach enjoying the Tiger sharks, reef sharks, lemon sharks AND Great Hammerhead and Bull sharks! It was a great couple of days out there and we’re happy to share Jeff Honda’s video from the trip! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
We spent an incredible week working with the folks at Behind the Mask and A Cotton Photo during our Great Hammerhead season in Bimini. Here’s an awesome video from our night dive during the trip. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Cat Island has always been a very special place for us! It’s one of those far away, sparsely populated and undeveloped islands in the central Bahamas. While Cat is just a 45 minute flight from Nassau, it’s worlds away. You won’t find any big resorts and no casinos on the island, but it’s home to some amazing things. The reefs and walls off Cat Island show of some of the Bahamas healthiest marine ecosystems. The drop off is steep, dramatic, and virtually unexplored. But for us, diving with the oceanic whitetip sharks is the major draw. Both incredibly reliable and incredibly rare, the oceanics aggregate around Cat Island each spring giving you your best chance to see this species flourish! They’re here in numbers, the majority of the sharks are female, and a good percentage of them are pregnant. We do see males throughout the year, but only a handful of individuals. We get to see the same oceanics whitetip sharks year after year, and meet new ones on any given day each season.
Bolt heals with amazing speed
This year, we saw some of our favorites back again and met a few really cool sharks. Our oldest shark, Bolt, came back yet again. She appears to be the oldest oceanic whitetip we’ve seen on Cat Island. Not only has she been back to Cat year after year, she was also documented by the BBC off Cat Island back in 2006. Last year she was pregnant and this year she did not seem to be. She moves slow and her eyes appear darkened or “rusted” around the center while all the other oceanics have very light colored eyes. She gets her name from the lightning bolt marking on the right side of her tail fin. The lower part of the marking actually wraps under the tail and can be seen slightly on the left side. This year, we saw her suffer a large but superficial wound on her right flank. Looked pretty concerning at first, but after seeing her heal up so rapidly, we were amazed at how she just “shook it off”.
We saw another dozen or so repeat sharks from previous seasons. There were 4 males this year, and one of them was the largest male we have seen, by far. Typically, the males seem smaller and younger. He was even larger than the average female.
We also had incredible encounters with a variety of species. Drifting in the blue always give you the chance to see something surprising. We started off with a great hammerhead, tiger shark and blue marlin in just the first week! Throughout the season, we were lucky enough to see several blue marlin, mahi mahi, tuna, a blue shark, silky sharks, reef sharks, nurse sharks, dusky sharks, blacktips, and even dolphin! It’s like drifting through space.
We had our hopes up to come across Atlas, the dusky shark from the 2014 season. Atlas was recovering nicely from deep wounds caused by a rope he got stuck in. You can read more about Atlas in our blog. Unfortunately, he was a no-show this year, but we wish him well and hope to see him again.
We’ll miss Cat Island, but already have our sights on the 2016 season! We’ve started filling the calendar and hope to see some of our favorite sharks, and you! Learn more about our oceanic whitetip shark diving trips on our site.
Cat Island is located in the central Bahamas. Considered one of the family islands, Cat Island is home to just over 1,600 people. The island is about 48 miles long and spans from one to four miles across, encompassing an area of 150 square miles. Cat Island was named after Arthur Cat, a pirate who visited the island many times. For hundreds of years, however, the island was called San Salvador and was thought to be Columbus’ first landfall in the New World. In 1926, Watlings Island was redesignated San Salvador and the name Cat Island was used once again. It is sometimes confused with Cat Cay, much closer to the east coast of the United States.
New Bight Airport, The Bight (TBI)
There are two airports on Cat Island. New Bight Airport, or The Bight, (TBI) is located in the islands capital, at it’s center. Arthur’s Town (ATC) is the airport in the north. Both are quite small and are no more than an airstrip, a one room air conditioned building with a check in counter, waiting room and restroom facilities. When traveling to Cat Island to dive with Epic Diving, you’ll need to make sure you book your ticket to and get off the plane at New Bight Airport. Your luggage should be tagged with the airport code TBI. Once you land, there are taxi cabs available to take to the resort. With only two daily flights, chances are you’ll run into other divers on the plane and share the ride to Greenwood Resort. The cab ride is about $70 for the first 1-2 people with an extra charge for more divers and loads of luggage.
The Hermitage sits atop Como Hill, the highest elevation in all of the Bahamas
Cat Island boasts several historical landmarks and is home to the nation’s highest elevation. Como Hill raises to 206 feet above sea level. At the top, you’ll find The Hermitage, a monastery built in 1939 by Father Jerome. He also renamed Como Hill to Mount Alvernia after La Verna, the hill in Tuscany where St. Francis of Assisi received the Wounds of the Cross. From it’s peak, you can easily see both the east and west coasts of the island as well as an aerial view of New Bight. In the quaint settlement of Port Howe, you can find the remains of the plantation home of Colonel Andrew Deveaux. Deveaux, who was born in South Carolina, sailed to the Bahamas in 1783 and recaptured the Bahamas from Spain, with an army of just 220 men and an arsenal of only 150 muskets. Another major attraction on Cat Island is the Big Blue Hole located off Dickies Road in the North. This Blue Hole is quite deep and often has strong undercurrents leading to the sea. Many objects thrown in have reached the ocean though the system’s passageways. Also off Dickies Road is the Griffen Bat Cave. Once a hideout for slaves, this cave is now home to thousands of bats. Stand at it’s opening at sunset and you’ll hear, feel, and see the bats emerge.
Cat Island Ship Wreck
There’s not much in the way of industry on Cat Island. Most locals live off the land and sea, some working as slash and burn farmers and others as fisherman. The island sees little tourism and has no large scale resorts. There are a number of picturesque hotels and inns that truly invite you to rest, relax, and enjoy.
Oceanic Whitetip Shark Diving, Cat Island Bahamas
Epic Diving has been traveling to Cat Island for the oceanic whitetip shark diving season since 2010. We primarily dive on the south side of the island, which is where the hotel and dive boat are located. Our oceanic whitetip shark diving season runs from March through June. We typically encounter several oceanic whitetip sharks each dive day and have also had the chances to see other species such as caribbean reef shark, nurse sharks, great hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks silky sharks, dusky sharks, blue sharks and even whale sharks. Drift diving out in the blue water with the oceanic whitetips, you never know what will show up. We’ve seen big schools of tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi or dorado, and even blue and white marlin! The dives are always exciting. While we focus mainly on the blue water shark encounters, some of the walls and reefs of Cat Island are pristine and mostly untouched. Here you can see some incredible corals and sponges as well as the usual cast of characters. Moray eels, turtles, grouper, lobster and crab…you can find it all.
Cat Island has something to offer people of all ages and interests. Take in the sights, learn some history, enjoy local cuisine, or just kick back and relax on a secluded beach. For more information about Cat Island and all it has to offer, visit The Out Islands of the Bahamas website.
We’ve just wrapped up another incredible week of diving with the Oceanic Whitetip Sharks of Cat Island. Although we had one weather day, the week was filled with nonstop shark action, and a few surprises as well. On the very last day, we even had a fly-by from a huge Blue Marlin!
There are two kinds of travelers in the world: those who pack light and those who wish they had. The key is to include everything you need in as little space as possible. You will find here the most efficient way to pack for both those kind of people.
Some of the most travel-savvy people in the world offer some helpful tips and techniques for efficient packing for all types of travel:
Make a plan and stick to it. As an architect plans a building, so must you plan the contents of your suitcase. A packing list eliminates the panic of last-second packing, serves as a handy guide for repacking at the end of the trip and can be beneficial in the unfortunate event of lost or stolen luggage.
Check the weather forecast of the destination and plan accordingly. For almost all outdoor activities, take pieces that can be layered.
Lay out the items you intend to take and reexamine your list. If possible, weed out single-use items and extras.
Travel kits are best for toiletries. Having a travel kit perpetually stocked in a waterproof case will save packing time before the trip and aggravation after arrival. Most personal toiletry items come in inexpensive travel sizes, so purchase these whenever you see them, so as not to arrive with a half-empty bottle of your favorite hair gel.
Iron everything before packing. If it goes in crisp and clean, odds are more in its favor of coming out the same. Button all buttons and zip all zippers.
Know when to fold ’em. Practice folding like it’s done in clothing stores-that method is used for a reason. The better the fold, the fewer the creases.
Try to think chronologically, placing the items to be worn first on the top. This will prevent rooting around the suitcase for a specific item while disrupting the rest.
Always carry travel documents, medication, jewelry, traveler’s checks, cash, keys and other valuables in your carry-on luggage. Items such as these should never be packed in checked luggage.
Traveling to the Bahamas for a trip with Epic Diving? Feel free to Contact Us if you have any travel related questions. We know that air travel can be one of the most stressful parts of the trip and will help with any questions or concerns you may have.
Check out this neat packing video from Oceanic Worldwide:
MV Thresher has been busy traveling through the Bahamas to some of the best shark diving hotspots on the planet. From Tiger Beach off Grand Bahama to the Great Hammerheads off Bimini, to the Oceanic Whitetips off the more remote Cat Island, she put on a lot of miles!
This June, Thresher is coming out of the water for some more upgrades. In our commitment to provide the best, most comfortable day boat in the industry, we continue to make improvements wherever and whenever possible.
This year, we’ll be installing a set of bank bottles to make tank filling faster and quieter. Our compressor is getting a complete overhaul in addition to it’s annual service.
We’ll be doing the usual bottom work of cleaning and painting. We’re sending the props in for cleaning, antifouling, and calibration, and this year, we’ll be pulling the rest of the running gear off for service and inspection.
Lastly, we plan to install mufflers in our exhaust system so that we ride more quietly.
If you have any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment or send over an email. We love feedback from divers and are willing to act on it!
The 2015 Oceanic season has started with an amazing bang!We’ve had really incredible shark action right from the start, with an average chum time of only 20 minutes so far.The oceanics have all been well behaved and we’re excited to already be seeing some of our favorites from past seasons.
A perfect pair!
The water conditions have been amazing so far with seemingly limitless visibility, mostly flat seas, an average water temp of 78 ˚F.Perfect conditions for snorkeling with the Oceanics.On snorkel, the sharks get very close and love to check out all the divers.They’re bold enough to investigate, but not pushy or threatening in their approach.We’ve gotten some incredible images already in just the first week of encounters.
Yesterday, we did our first drift dive with the new group of guests.It was absolutely incredible.The oceanics stuck around for the entire dive and were joined by reef and blacktip sharks.We had one pass by an enormous tiger sharks followed by a very inquisitive hammerhead coming to check out the group.He was shy at first….passing through everyone and continuing on his way.Only minutes later, he returned and came right into our bait crate.The hammerhead buzzed by everyone in the group and we all were able to get some really nice photos.It is the first time we’ve photographed Oceanics and Hammerheads in the same frame.
Needless to say, we’re so excited to be back at Cat Island diving in the blue with the oceanics.You just never know what’s going to turn up.Stay tuned for more trip reports and exciting photos!