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Diving in the Bahamas - Part 2

Updated on April 27, 2010

New Kind of Blue

While blue holes are found elsewhere in the wider Caribbean, the Bahamas — and Andros in particular — sit atop the shallow karst terrain that lends itself to them. These perfectly symmetrical formations punctuate the otherwise green shallows with chasms of cobalt blue, some plunging sharply down for hundreds of feet. In deeper holes, pelagics like sea turtles, sharks, and rays swim out in the middle. The walls inside the holes are often covered with a patina of hard and soft corals, and sometimes indented with room-sized caverns.
 
But what about this fearsome Lusca? The holes of Andros are remnants of terrain that collapsed when the Bahama Banks were dry during the last Ice Age and aquifers flowed in caverns under them. Since the holes are often linked to one another via these same tunnels, the sea over them will blow or suck during tidal changes. To the uninformed, these swirling vortexes once translated into unseen mythic dangers. Lusca or not, it's wise to avoid diving in the holes during tidal changes; deeper sites and those with tunnels also require special training.

Site of Atlantis

If you yearn for a more cosmic experience, travel up to Bimini, just 50 miles east of Miami, where pilgrims drawn by Edgar Cayce's reference to Atlantis have located the very tippy-top of the sunken continent. Of course, this location is not necessarily the actual Atlantean island as some have placed it between Portugal and the Azores Islands, or just north of the Canary Islands, or in any number of different locations. And this assumes that there actually was an Atlantean island to start with, which has polarized scientists and "true believers" for decades. Although there have been recorded and verified finds of various sunken cities or parts of cities primarily in the Mediterranean Sea, there has never been an established location for a sunken civilization to the extent of what Atlantis was supposed to be.
 
Regardless, the divers keep looking and they usually start at a point generally known as the Bimini Road, this shallow dive site is comprised of a set of massive, pavementlike stones set in the sandy bottom. On shore is an artesian spring said to have magical powers, a place true believers go to be at one with their inner Oz. When you've had enough of this, explore some of the offshore reefs, like one known as Little Caverns. It's a 70-foot-deep site where platter-sized French angels seem to guard the portals of the coral caves, and giant spotlight parrotfish bob and weave like wind-up toys through thick schools of yellowtail snapper. Look out toward the Gulf Stream, just in case any marlin or tuna happen to be cruising by.
 
Back on land, drop by the Compleat Angler, the ramshackle bar and lodge in rustic Alice Town, where vintage photos of Hemingway and his fishing buddies still line the aged mahogany walls. Pull up a chair, order a cold Kalik (The Beer of the Bahamas), and crack open Papa's Islands in the Stream, since that is exactly where you happen to be.
 
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