While it may be tempting to never leave the warm embrace of the soft pink and white sands of Harbour Island’s famous beach, there is an entire world of adventure waiting for you just offshore. With warm sun, shallow waters, sandy bays, and brilliant coral reefs, Bahamas snorkeling is among the best in the world, and it is all at your fingertips in this tropical paradise. The line of shallow coral reefs that stretches northeast from Eleuthera for three miles to the northern edge of Harbour Island is colorfully known as The Devil’s Backbone (many a ship has met its doom here), but it would be equally fitting to call it a snorkeler’s heaven. Check out some of the spots for the best snorkeling in the Bahamas below!
Bahamas Snorkeling Sites
Sea Gardens – Aptly named, this unique, horseshoe-shaped reef is full of coral heads that resemble a classical English garden with their rainbow of vibrantly colored colonies and sea fans. Curious marine life abounds here, including many fish just as curious about you as you are about them.
Man Island – This small outcropping of rocks is full of nooks and crannies and crevices to explore; it is as popular with the octopus and sea cucumbers that reside here as with the snorkelers who visit.
Three Fingers – Ideal for young or beginning snorkelers, this shallow coral reef has an abundance of colorful corals and lively reef fish that are happy to let you get oh-so-close before flitting away.
Wrecks – The Devil’s Backbone has claimed its fair share of shipwrecks (and even one trainwreck), and the shallow water makes them ripe for exploring. Check out the Potato and Onion Wreck (a 200’ wreck in 15’ of water), the Carnavon (sunk in a storm in 1918; 30’), the Cienfuegas (a passenger liner), and the Train Wreck (a locomotive and its cars that fell off a barge during the Civil War).
Whether you brought your own gear or rented from one of the many reputable vendors on Eleuthera, Bahamas snorkeling around Harbour Island is relatively easy (inquire about their tours). The best conditions are on the leeward side of the island, and the swim out to the reefs is relatively easy (shore snorkeling is the way to go, a boat trip is hardly ever needed). Visibility is usually quite good, unless currents or storms have churned up the water. A tip: From Harbour Island’s main beaches, head to the northern or southern ends, where the reef comes much closer to shore.