This is a pretty common question we get diving with guests. “Is it okay if I’m on the morning flight tomorrow?”
Each diver needs to use their own judgement, but here are some of the guidelines from DAN and the Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society. Keep in mind, most of our shark dives are just a bit deeper than the average safety stop. Typically, divers will not have a significant nitrogen accumulation during our standard shark diving expeditions.
Flying after scuba diving? The experts at Divers Alert Network explain the risks for decompression sickness and the latest guidelines on flying after diving.
DAN and the Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) held a workshop in 2002 to review the available data regarding post-dive air travel. The following table outlines their recommendations for the absolute minimum time interval you should wait to fly after diving:
We strongly recommend that travelers secure dive specific travel insurance for all our Bahamas Shark Diving Packages. There are a number of companies that offer this type of coverage. By far, the two we see most often are offered by either DAN or DiveAssure. Here are some of details and benefits of getting the insurance.
Travel insurance gives travelers coverage for unforeseen problems, from a cancelled flight to a serious illness – DAN
Dive Specific Travel Insurance:
It’s not like most typical travel insurance, such as the kind you may get automatically through your credit card. Dive travel insurance is tailored specifically to cover for the most likely things that could interfere with your scuba diving vacation. It can certainly take the sting out of missing dives for a number of reasons that are beyond your or anyone else’s control. For example:
Let’s face it, travel delays are not all that uncommon. It’s especially true for divers with multiple bags of clothes, dive, and camera equipment. A flight delay could cause you to miss out on dives as well as add expenses of flight rerouting or even additional and unexpected hotel stay. Travel insurance will come in handy here. On the same topic, occasionally luggage gets left behind and you may be without essential dive gear until the airlines get it sorted. These insurance policies will cover the cost of having to rent dive gear to make sure you don’t miss out on any shark dives.
Aside from travel, there could also be illness, injury that prevents you from making the trip. Obviously this is nothing that can be planned for, but dive travel insurance will help you recoup expenses for missing your Bahamas dive vacation.
Coverage for weather cancellations is another big reason to get the insurance. We do our best to make up for lost time when we have to cancel the shark diving for weather, but that is obviously beyond our control. We know it’s disappointing for people to travel and miss a day because the weather doesn’t cooperate. Unlike standard travel insurance, the policies offer by both DAN and DiveAssure will reimburse you for the cost of diving if any days are canceled by the crew due to inclement weather.
Single Trip or Annual:
Both companies offer single trip as well as annual dive travel insurance, which may be a great option for divers that take several scuba diving vacations each year. Remember, this is not the same as DAN membership. DAN membership is a great idea for all divers and DiveAssure offers similar programs. These cover for any expenses that are incurred for a dive related illness or injury, such as needing evacuation to a recompression chamber.
One last note on the insurance. Some policies offer an optional Cancel For Any Reason clause. This insurance must be purchased for the full shark diving package price and airfare and typically at the time of booking (some within 15 days of making your initial deposit). This would allow the greatest flexibility if you needed to cancel a trip entirely. If you are simply looking for the weather day coverage, you would only need to insure the cost of the diving. Your flights and hotel would not be reimbursed if the diving is cancelled for high winds and seas.
Before traveling, take a moment to browse DAN or DiveAssure’s website, get familiar with the different policies, call them with questions, and secure extra peace of mind before flying in for your Bahamas Shark Diving Expedition.
The specific insurance coverage does vary by region, so you would need to check with the company of what the coverage includes. Each company offers several plans that also offer different coverages and limits. Most provide an easy way of getting quotes directly on their websites, and have customer service numbers if you would like to chat.
The Bahamas has been a shark diving hub for decades and there are now a number of hotspots throughout the archipelago that offer reliable encounters with a variety of species of sharks. Caribbean reef sharks certainly are the most commonly encountered shark species on dives here, but there are also a number of marquis species that can be found.
Tiger Beach is undoubtedly the best place on the planet to scuba dive with tiger sharks. Bimini is now well-known as a hotspot for the endangered great hammerhead shark and Cat Island is one of the last places divers can reliably find the elusive Oceanic Whitetip Shark. Of course, you can find multiple species at each of these locations.
Planning your trip to the Bahamas? Here are a few consideration to help get the ball rolling:
Plan early, especially if you’re traveling from far specifically to find a particular shark species to dive with. These specialized trips generally book up quite far in advance and space is limited both for safety and comfort reasons. Make sure to book your diving before making other travel reservations including airfare. If your main reason for traveling is the shark dives, then make sure that’s available first.
Consider travel requirements. Some folks will need Visas in order to visit the Bahamas. Others may even need a Visa to enter the US if your air travel includes a stop-over there. Below are some quick details.
Passports are required by all persons entering The Bahamas.
Tiger Beach – Grand Bahama International Airport (Freeport). The airport code here is FPO. Freeport is about 40 minutes from the West End by taxi.
Bimini Hammerheads – South Bimini Airport. The airport code is BIM and located on South Bimini. Most hotels are located on North Bimini so you’ll need to take a taxi/water ferry to get to the other island.
Cat Island – New Bight Airport. The airport code is TBI. Cat Island has 2 airports. Make sure you’re booking your ticket to TBI.
The Bahamas is truly a shark diving paradise! It’s tough to beat in terms of the number of sharks, the variety of species, and the ease of shark diving and photography. Make sure you have all the necessary information and travel documents before your trip. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Emma cruises over the sargassum beds at Tiger Beach in the Bahams
Here’s an 11-part strategy for avoiding sea sickness published by SCUBA Diving Magazine:
Need to feed. A meal before you board is highly important. For most people, an empty stomach is more sensitive to being irritated, so filling it with comfort food 45-60 minutes before leaving shore is smart. Load up on carbohydrates at breakfast and avoid acidic and greasy foods, as they may contribute to motion sickness. Lastly, avoid alcohol and cigarettes.
Medicate. If you know you’re especially prone to motion sickness, investigate the use of over-the-counter antiemetic medications such as meclozine (Bonine, Antivert, Meni-D, Antrizine) or Dramamine. Meclozine reduces the activity of the portion of the brain that controls nausea. These medications are highly effective in most individuals, and thus can be a preventive measure for short trips or for mild cases of motion sickness. Be sure to start medicating the night before the dive trip to start establishing the proper blood level of the drug.
Go gingerly. In addition to medications, many divers swear that the intake of ginger is a simple and tasty way to help avoid getting ill. If this works for you, it’s an easy solution – just carry a Ziploc baggie of ginger snaps aboard and munch on them before and between dives. Although it’s not yet clear to researchers exactly how and why it works, studies show that the ginger root contains a number of chemicals that seem to help relax the intestinal track. As a result, ginger is often helpful in reducing the risk of nausea.
Avoid “conflicting instrument readings.” Look out across the horizon so your eyes can register the same type of acceleration changes your ears are reporting. Avoid visually focusing on things that are close-by, and most especially, avoid reading for more than a few seconds at a time. Also, face the direction the boat is traveling.
Your nose knows. Odors can complicate the mix of signals to the brain, increasing your likelihood of becoming ill. Avoid smelling diesel fumes, cigarette smoke, perfume and of course, anyone else’s vomit.
Minimize movement. Standing in different locations on the boat’s deck will result in different amounts of velocity/acceleration being transferred to your body. Stay topside, close to the center of the vessel.
Keep hydrated. Continue to drink plenty of fluids while on board and throughout each surface interval. This will help keep your stomach more full and will help your body metabolize food and process everything else better.
Stay cool. If you become overheated while on deck, you’ll be more at risk of becoming ill. Wear a cap to keep the sun off your head and face, sit in a shady location between dives and peel off part or all of your wetsuit.
Heads up! If you feel the urge to vomit, move to the leeward rail (with the wind at your back), lean forward and try to direct your explosion toward the sea. The fish will thank you. Never go into the head (marine toilet).
Dive in. If you do begin to feel the early signs of motion sickness, get into the water and submerge several feet below the surface, doing so will usually quell the queasy feelings because your body will stop receiving the conflicting acceleration readings.
Regulate it. If you happen to become ill while underwater, such as just after submerging, it’s usually perfectly OK to vomit in your regulator. It’s not the most enjoyable experience, but it’s typically over very quickly and you’ll feel better almost immediately.
Motion sickness is a sure-fire way to put a damper on an otherwise great day. Once it starts, it’s really difficult to break the cycle and you’re often left to endure the misery until you can get your feet back on solid ground. PADI’s website recently featured some great info from the Diver’s Alert Network.
If you know you have motion sickness or might be prone to it, consider this advice:
On a boat: Stay on deck and focus on the horizon. Avoid inhaling exhaust fumes.
In a car: Sit in the front seat. If you are the passenger, look at the scenery in the distance.
Do not read in moving vehicles. Reading makes motion sickness worse.
Avoid heavy meals prior to diving.
Drink plenty of water.
Avoid alcohol the evening before you travel.
If possible, stand up. Sitting or lying down can make you feel worse.
Eat dry crackers to help settle a queasy stomach.
Avoid others who have become nauseous with motion sickness.
Treatment Over-the-counter products: Antihistamines are commonly used both to prevent and treat motion sickness. A side effect of antihistamines is drowsiness, which is exaggerated when alcohol is consumed. Drowsiness may adversely affect diver safety. Meclizine, the medication in Bonine or Dramamine II, is considered less drowsy. It is actually a very effective medication and available by prescription under the name “Antivert” – given it’s use in treating vertigo.
Prescription products: The scopolamine skin patch (Transderm Scop) is a popular option. The patch is applied to the skin area behind the ear at least eight hours before exposure and can help prevent motion sickness for up to three days per patch. Scopolamine may cause dry mouth, blurry vision, drowsiness and dizziness. Patients with glaucoma, enlarged prostate and some other health problems should not use this drug. Be sure to tell your doctor of your existing health problems to help determine which drug is best suited for you. As mentioned above, meclizine is also available as a prescription.
Alternative remedies: Various alternative remedies have been promoted as being helpful in relieving or preventing motion sickness. In most cases, the evidence of efficacy is missing. However, if you have mild symptoms, you may try ginger or peppermint products to ease your symptoms without risking side effects.
From the ubiquitous caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks to the larger than life tiger sharks, to the ultra rare great hammerhead and oceanic whitetip sharks, the Bahamas has it all. While there are chances to see sharks at each of the islands, some of the highly sought after encounters can be reliably found at certain times of year, at certain locations.
While it’s possible to find tiger sharks off the coast of many Bahamian islands, Tiger Beach off the northern tip of Grand Bahama Island is world famous for these encounters, and for good reason. The dive conditions here are some of the best for shark encounters and hard to beat for photographers. Generally, dives with tiger sharks are done in shallow water, typically around 20-30 feet deep. The ambient light is plentiful and the sharks come close, ideal conditions for underwater photography. The tiger sharks are here year round, but seem to build in numbers over the winter months. Divers can expect to seen anywhere from one to a dozen or more of these magnificent predators surrounded by countless caribbean reef and lemon sharks. And there’s a lot more than just the classic sandy bottom of Tiger Beach. This area of the Little Bahama Bank also offers some incredible reef diving with loads of life like turtles, eels, grouper and stingrays. The reefs are typically a bit deeper, starting off at depths around 40 feet. They offer an array of colorful backgrounds for the “men in the grey suit.” A bit further North, Sugar Wreck is also a favorite of guests. It’s very shallow, around 15 – 20 feet deep, and covering in marine life. It’s a great spot for both diving and snorkeling.
Before the world knew about Bimini’s great hammerheads, encounters with this species was generally rare, brief, and unreliable. That has all changed. Each winter and early spring season brings large numbers of these magnificent sharks right off Bimini’s shores and for the first time, divers can book excursions dedicated to seeing this species. The largest of all the hammerhead sharks, these guys can reach reported lengths of 20 feet. Their huge dorsal fin is reminiscent of an orcas, towering above their bodies. Like tiger beach, the dives here are also shallow, allowing for extended bottom times. Nurse sharks are present on almost every dive and bull sharks tend to make an appearance as well.
The oceanic whitetip is a pelagic species and was once considered the most numerous marine animal over one hundred pound in the worlds oceans. Unfortunately, they have suffered dramatic declines over the past 5 decades and are now quite rare. Cat Island is one of the last hotspots to find this species, and truly the only location to book a trip dedicated to seeing them. During the spring months, female oceanics congregate in the deep water just offshore. Encounters with the oceanics are done as blue water drift dives. Divers can expect to see oceanic whitetip sharks and also have the opportunity to see a variety of other pelagic species, such as silky sharks, dusky sharks, mahi mahi, tuna, and even blue marlin.
The Bahamas takes pride in it’s shark ecotourism and understands the important role sharks play in their ocean environment. Building on the long line ban in 1992, the Bahamas created a shark sanctuary in 2011 protecting sharks against any commercial use in the nearly 250,000 square miles of ocean surrounding the country. Whether your thinking of adding a few shark dives to your logbook, or are an experienced shark diver and/or photographer, the islands of the Bahamas has some of the best big animal encounters around.
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 highly recommends that divers carry DAN or other equivalent dive accident insurance for our dive expeditions in the Bahamas. Our diving at each location is far from complete medical care and all but minor injuries would require evacuation off island for treatment. Having dive accident insurance can be a huge money saver, as well as a life saver. Here’s some information from DAN.
Do I really need dive accident insurance?I have primary medical coverage
Your primary medical insurance may exclude scuba diving as a hazardous recreational activity and/or may not provide coverage when you are traveling out of the country. If it does provide coverage, it may pay only a minimal amount for chamber treatments. There are also often large out-of-pocket payments for deductibles and co-pays. These alone can total thousands of dollars.
The DAN Dive Accident Insurance Plans are recognized worldwide and can be confirmed 24 hours a day through the DAN Emergency Hotline (+1-919-684-9111). The DAN plans provide secondary coverage of up to $500,000 and pay 100% of eligible expenses.
What do Dive Accident Insurance Benefits Cover?
Medical Dive Accident Coverage
Covered charges include the reasonable and customary cost of medically necessary services and supplies provided for the care and treatment of a Covered Diving Accident when prescribed, performed or ordered by a Physician. This includes:
Hyperbaric Chamber Treatment
Physician’s Charges for Hyperbaric Chamber Treatment medical care and surgical operations
Ambulance transportation by ground, air or marine ambulance services to the nearest Hospital or Hyperbaric Chamber where prescribed care or treatment can be given
Accidental Death and Dismemberment
This coverage is for loss resulting from a Covered Diving Accident.
Permanent & Total Disability
Permanent Total Disability must result from a Covered Diving Accident. Permanent Total Disability means that an Insured Person is unable to perform the substantial and material duties of any occupation, if employed, or if retired, all of the normal activities for a person of like age and sex in good health.
Extra Transportation Costs
If an insured person is prevented from using their purchased ticket to return home based on the written advice of the attending Physician because of a Covered Diving Accident, the coverage pays for the cost of transportation for the return trip home.
Extra Accommodation Costs
If an insured person is delayed from returning home based on the written advice of the attending Physician because of a Covered Diving Accident, the coverage pays the cost of extra accommodations for the duration of the delay.
Loss of Diving Equipment
Coverage is for diving equipment that is worn on the diver’s person that is “cut loose” and is lost or damaged as a result of a Covered Diving Accident. This coverage excludes watches, torn straps or buckles, or photographic equipment.
DAN also offers dive trip/travel and equipment insurance which is also a great idea. This type of coverage could help recover costs from lost diving days due to luggage or flight delays, damage and even inclement weather.
Looking for more information on Dive Specific Insurance coverage? Check out this post on Dive Travel Insurance, which provides coverage for travel and weather related trip interruptions.
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:
So you’re planning a dive vacation? You’ve packed the swimming trunks, the extra layers, your dive gear, the sun screen, but the question remains: is your medical insurance traveling with you? Do you need additional travel insurance? What happens if you get to the Bahamas like you always wanted to, and then, in a freak accident, you break your ankle? What if the conch from that charming restaurant reacts badly with your digestive system. Now you are suddenly having the worst food poisoning you’ve experienced in your life? It is no small matter; according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one half of US travelers heading to another country will experience some sort of health problem while abroad.
The truth is, unless you make special preparations, the outlook is not good. According to www.worldwidemedical.com, “most US insurance companies, HMOs, PPOs or Medicare plans do not provide adequate medical insurance.” There may be exceptions, and you should look into the fine print of your plan, but every major US health insurance providers suggests getting some form of traveler’s insurance. Unfortunately, there is no foreign country that provides free health care for travelers.
Travel insurance plans provide three types of coverage. First, for medical care when abroad. Next, the cost of emergency medical evacuation. Finally, reimbursement for sudden trip cancellations and lost luggage.
Should you require medical attention while abroad, most insurance companies provide support in the form of emergency hotlines. They will advise you on the best hospitals in the area, as well as the ins and outs of the local systems. It is strongly advised that, if possible, you consult your provider before seeking medical attention in a foreign land. Also, insurance providers warn that most third world countries’ hospital systems require payment upfront for services rendered. This fee would be reimbursed by the plan.
The most pressing concern is the case of an emergency medical evacuation from a foreign country. Evacuations are necessary when a very serious medical condition arises. Traveler/patient may need to be transported back to the care of his/her primary care physician. This can cost upwards of $10,000 as it is a coordinated effort between several hospitals and at least one airline. Most travel insurance plans provide the option for specific coverage for this contingency.
Another aspect to consider when traveling abroad, is the cost of sudden cancellations, or changes in travel plans as a result of medical or other emergencies. In an era when airline companies are logging record numbers of lost luggage, this aspect of travelers insurance provides reimbursement for the purchase of clothes and other necessities.
Contact DAN or DiveAssure for more information on available plans for travel and equipment insurance.