san salvador, bahamas
Recently back from a trip to one of the smaller islands in the Bahamas - San Salvador (previously known as Watling Island), which is considered by many to be the first anchorage of Columbus' fleet in October, 1492.
The island is currently home to approximately 2,500 individuals & only has two resorts on the entire island. One happens to be Club Med, so if you're looking for romantic adventure that's probably the one for you. The other resort is Riding Rock Inn, which is no-frills living perfect for scubadivers. The only 21st century amenity is wi-fi in the restaurant / bar area. The place is perfectly comfortable, just not fancy. All rooms include ocean views with mini-fridges. Outside of Club Med there isn't much to interest a tourist on a buying binge except rum & beer. Bahamas-brewed beers are $4 each, no matter where you happen to be. By the way, the Bahamas $ equals the US $, so no exchange rate help here.
Getting there is relatively easy - most major airlines fly direct to Nassau on Paradise Island & from there BahamasAir puddle-jumps you to San Salvador. If you're a diver, now the fun begins. The Riding Rock dive operation is first-class with dedicated pros conducting all dives. Divemasters Lynne (British) & Michael (Russian) are very competent & attentive. Captain Bruce (born & raised here) is also a divemaster & everyone is very knowledgeable about their jobs. If you wish to see sharks in crystal-clear water on your dives, this is a good destination - we had reef sharks & hammerheads on most dives. Also you no longer have to dive western Pacific to see lionfish - we saw multiple lionfish on every dive! They are considered a pest here because they have no natural predators & a lot of conversation revolves around "how do we get rid of them". The answer of course is "you can't" & the locals know it. The idea is to exterminate the breeding-age fish, but there is no consensus on how to accomplish this. The other concern (considering the Bahamas are north of the Carribean) is the weather. Cold fronts routinely blow through the islands from the US & even in late April, the water temperature was 74 degrees F - definitely wetsuit water.
Riding Rock takes guests on an island tour on one afternoon during the week - besides Cockburn Town, highlights include a pressurized-propane lighthouse (like a really big Coleman lantern) manned around the clock by two on-site keepers & the ruins of Watling Castle on an overlook to the ocean. John Watling was a 17th century pirate who excelled at setting flares to guide ships onto the surrounding reefs. The wrecks were then easy pickings for the pirate's crew.
As a scubadiving photog, the trip was definitely worth the cost, which is more than an equal-time trip to the diver favorites of Cozumel or Roatan. The difference is you don't see hammerheads at either of these locations & in fact, I hadn't seen a hammerhead since Papua New Guinea in the far west Pacific & this trip was much cheaper than that one!
Keep shooting.......... Conchasdiver
Photo credits: Conchasdiver.
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