Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My favorite dive ( . . . so far) at Small Hope, Bahamas

With the third largest barrier reef in the world just minutes away from the Small Hope Bay Lodge dock, and being virtually the only dive operation on that reef, there are literally dozens of really, really great dives at my fingertips. I have been enjoying my time underwater at Small Hope for a little over two years now and have gotten to experience some truly amazing dives. I've done mind-blowing wall dives - the drop from the reef into the "Tongue of the Ocean", basically a 6,000 foot drop straight down, with little to no current, making some really awesome wall cruises. I've done coral garden and shark dives - one of my favorite sites, Brad's Mountain combines the two, beautiful coral growth with cracks and crevices, all flourishing with tons of different fish, and pretty much guaranteed sharks every time. I've been diving in the Blue Hole of Andros - both ocean and inland blue holes, I have gotten to experience the full cave dive of the Guardian, as well as the Ocean Blue Hole, an incredibly beautiful cavern dive.

Well, the coolest, most jaw-dropping, kick butt dive so far? 2nd Level of the Blue Hole (into Backside of the Blue Hole). This is one of the custom specialty dives Small Hope offers. We went to the Ocean Blue Hole and timed the dive perfectly with the tides (very important). This is a "live" blue hole, meaning fresh water is sucked through underground caves as the tide goes out. 

2nd Level - This is a deeper circuit around the blue hole dive than the typical blue hole dive we take most of our guests on (usually done at 100'). 2nd Level goes down to about 140' and also passes through a smaller "room", creating a cave-like atmosphere for the first part of the dive. At the beginning of the dive you pass over the rim of the hole and start descending in to the surrounding crevice. Down below, you see a triangular entry. This is the first "restriction" and even though it looks really little divers have no problem getting through. This takes you to the "room" which is quite dark and about 5' high, 8' wide and maybe 6' deep in size. At the back of the room there is a passage down and to the left which takes you through a tunnel that continues to widen until you can see the upper levels of the blue hole. Now it starts to become so incredibly gorgeous. Big skylights letting the turquoise blue stream down through massive boulders strategically placed. Great rock formations, including one we call E.T.'s head (because from the right angle, its shape is just like E.T.'s). And great dark chasms below, where the light will never reach. It is the most awe inspiring dive I've been on.

Backside of the Blue Hole - The Backside dive usually goes to about 70 feet deep and goes over the top of the sinkhole and out the back where all the ancient streams and riverbeds lie. We time the dive so the tides have pushed tons of fresh water through and formed a halocline where the fresh water below is green and significantly cooler, and the salt water above is blue and warm. If you catch the tides just right, the line between fresh and salt water will be so distinct, you could cut it with a knife. In addition to all this, sediment that gets pushed with the fresh water forms what we call "whale snot" and drapes over the coral and looks like Halloween cobweb decor. It also floats around making this dive completely other-worldly as well as a one-of-a-kind experience.

On this particular dive, we timed it just right and at the end of our circuit around the 2nd Level of the Blue Hole we came up in to the Backside of the Blue Hole and finished the dive cruising in and out of green and turquoise waters, playing with the "snot", spotted a reef shark, a giant Nassau grouper, an Atlantic spadefish. All in all, the best of both worlds - unbelievable deep cavern dive, followed by eeire and awesome backside dive. SO GREAT! I love my life! Pin It Now!

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