- New Providence Island -- Many ships have sunk near Nassau in the past 300 years, and all the dive outfitters here know the most scenic wreck sites. Other underwater attractions are gardens of elkhorn coral and dozens of reefs packed with life. The most spectacular dive site is Shark Wall, 16km (10 miles) off New Providence's southwest coast; it's blessed with incredible, colorful sea life and the healthiest coral offshore. You'll even get to swim with sharks (not as bait, of course).
- Grand Bahama Island -- The island is ringed with reefs, and dive sites are plentiful, including the Wall, the Caves (site of a long-ago disaster known as Theo's Wreck), and Treasure Reef. Other popular dive sites include Spit City (yes, that's right), Ben Blue Hole, and the Rose Garden (no one knows how this one got its name). What makes Grand Bahama a cut above the others is the presence of a world-class dive operator, UNEXSO, the Underwater Explorer Society (tel. 800/992-DIVE  or 242/373-1244; www.unexso.com).
- Lucayan National Park -- This park on Grand Bahama is the site of a 9.5km-long (6-mile) underground freshwater cave system, the longest of its type in the world. The largest cave contains spiral staircases that lead visitors into a freshwater world inhabited by shrimp, mosquito fish, fruit bats, freshwater eels, and a species of crustacean (Spelionectes lucayensis) that has never been documented elsewhere. In the 16-hectare (40-acre) preserve are examples of the island's five ecosystems -- pine forests, rocky coppice, mangrove swamps, whiteland coppice, and sand dunes. Pause to sunbathe on a lovely stretch of sandy beach or hike along paths accented by orchids, hummingbirds, and barn owls.
- Bimini -- Although Bimini is most famous for its game fishing, it boasts excellent diving, too. Five kilometers (3 miles) of offshore reefs attract millions of colorful fish. Even snorkelers can see black-coral gardens, blue holes, and an odd configuration on the sea floor that is allegedly part of the lost continent of Atlantis (a fun legend, at any rate). Divers can check out the wreck of a motorized yacht, the Sapona (owned by Henry Ford), which sank in shallow waters off the coast in 1929.
- Andros -- Marine life abounds in the barrier reef off the coast of Andros, which is one of the world's largest and a famous destination for divers. The reef plunges 1,800m (5,906 ft.) to a narrow drop-off known as the Tongue of the Ocean. You can also explore mysterious blue holes, formed when subterranean caves filled with seawater, causing their ceilings to collapse and expose clear, deep pools.
- Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park (Abacos) -- Known for its undersea caves, seemingly endless coral reefs, and abundant plant and marine life, this national park, 13km (8 miles) north of Cherokee Sound at Great Abaco Island, is a highlight for scuba divers.
- Harbour Island (Eleuthera) -- In addition to lovely coral and an array of colorful fish, divers can enjoy some unique experiences here, such as the Current Cut, an exciting underwater gully that carries you on a swiftly flowing underwater current for 10 minutes. Four wrecked ships also lie nearby, at depths of less than 12m (39 ft.), including a barge that was transporting the engine of a steam locomotive in 1865, reportedly after the American Confederacy sold it to raise cash for its war effort.
- Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (Exumas) -- A major attraction, this park was the first of its kind anywhere on the planet. The 35km-long (22-mile), 13km-wide (8-mile) natural preserve attracts divers to its 453 sq. km (175 sq. miles) of sea gardens with spectacular reefs, flora, and fauna. Inaugurated in 1958, it lies some 35km (22 miles) northwest of Staniel Cay and 64km (40 miles) southeast of Nassau; it's only accessible by boat.
- Long Island (Southern Bahamas) -- Snorkeling is spectacular on virtually all sides of this island. But experienced divers venturing into deeper waters offshore can visit underwater cages to feed swarms of mako, bull, and reef sharks. Dive sites abound, including the Arawak "green hole," a blue hole of incomprehensible depth.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.