Diving Staniel Cay in Bahama

Swimming in Sharky Waters in the Bahamas

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Hey, remember this girl? The one who wouldn’t go further into the ocean than knee-wading depth thanks to her overwhelming fear of sharks? The one who was too terrified of all things water-related to even close her eyes in the shower? Oh right, her. Well, I’m not sure where That Girl went exactly, though sources have confirmed that someone of striking likeness to Her was seen palling around with a dozen six-foot nurse sharks while in the Bahamas this past week. No big deal. Just another (manic) Monday.

Compass Cay sharks | Exumas, Bahamas | Camels & Chocolate

It’s funny that the same friend who was with me when I first confronted my fear of finned beings was around when I was face-to-face with 20 of them—maybe more—in one week and didn’t so much as flinch. She claims I’m her “biggest success story” yet! I’ll take that, gladly.

Danger Reef | Exumas, Bahamas | Camels & Chocolate

Even if you think—or have been told otherwise—most islands in the whole Caribbean are home to some kind of docile shark. People are naive to think otherwise, but even if you don’t see them, trust me, they’re there. As a reformed ichthyphobic I get that. People automatically associate sharks with malevolent behavior. As an avid diver, I’m here to tell you the Bahamas’ sharks are of the friendly variety, primarily reef sharks and lots and lots of nurses. In my experiences, nurse sharks are a lot like cats: They’re friendly and like to be pet, particularly scratched under the chin.

Compass Cay sharks | Exumas, Bahamas | Camels & Chocolate

I find them kind of cute—don’t you?

Compass Cay sharks | Exumas, Bahamas | Camels & Chocolate

While staying at nearby Staniel—the only real “resort” and yacht club in the area—you can stop by Compass Cay and mingle with the locals, the locals of course being these guys, the pets.

Compass Cay sharks | Exumas, Bahamas | Camels & Chocolate

They migrate toward this dock as I suspect a lot of people come over and feed them. No one was feeding them while we were there, but they were swarming the shallow waters nonetheless.

The following day we were set to spend the morning and early afternoon scuba diving. Yet another tropical story system almost thwarted that plan. Angie had really wanted to dive the famed Danger Reef (I just liked the name—though it’s far from dangerous, I should point out), but didn’t think I’d be into it due to the presence of sharks. Little did she know, there was nary a dive I’d rather do! Lucky for the both of us, midway into our hour-long motor out to the dive site, our divemaster changed course and determined that despite the currents and mammoth waves, we would do Danger after all. Success!

Danger Reef | Exumas, Bahamas | Camels & Chocolate

From the moment the boat anchored in the swaying sea, I could look just beyond the bow to see a handful of eight- to 10-foot reef sharks circling. Three-Years-Ago Kristin would have LOST HER MIND. Present Day Kristin was the first to put on her fins and dive in.

Compass Cay sharks | Exumas, Bahamas | Camels & Chocolate

Like nurses, reef sharks are non-aggressive creatures, and while they’ll surround the boat in curiosity, they couldn’t care less about you under the sea, swimming within three feet of you but ignoring your presence entirely. Thus, I was prompted to follow them around by video camera. Because when I travel now, the thing that always goes through my mind is: “This will make excellent blog fodder!” Never mind if I lost a hand in doing so. ALL IN PURSUIT OF A GOOD STORY, PEOPLE.

(Kidding. The sharks are totally harmless!)(Though stay tuned for the last five seconds of the above video where the shark appears out of nowhere IN MY FACE. Whoa, nelly!)


Getting There: You can fly to George Town in Great Exuma on a number of carriers, such as Continental Express, from Ft. Lauderdale, or else jump aboard a regional carrier like Sky Bahamas from Nassau, then take a scenic boat tour from Barreterre through the cays aboard Four C’s Adventurres. Watermakers Air also flies directly from Ft. Lauderdale and Nassau to Staniel.

Where to Stay: Staniel Cay Yacht Club is the only accommodation in the area that I saw and boasts a number of candy-colored cottages right on the waterfront. Angie and I bunked in a room with four twin beds in a three-bedroom, two-bath house with a kitchenette, while our Bahama mama Sharmain slept in the master.

The resort is also home to Staniel Cay Divers, Ltd., run by Arizona ex-pat Jake, who has taken many a visiting celebrity out in the neighboring waters. He and his girlfriend and the boat captain make for an excellent dive team, and you should definitely join them for a day out in the waters should you find yourself in the area.

What It Costs: Airfare will run you around $90 each way, from Nassau or Florida to Great Exuma. Accommodation at Staniel runs from $145-$165 in a one-bedroom cottage; $160-$210 in a two-floor, two-bedroom suite; $225-$255 in a three-bedroom house. There’s an on-site bar and restaurant, and you can request package deals that include lodging, meals, activities and rentals. Diving runs from $180 (two-tank dive) to $400 (four tanks) per day, and snorkelers are welcome to ride along with the dive boat for $35.

  • October 13, 2010

    OMG! That is so Cool standing and swimming with the sharks. Once again you’ve brought me to an environment I do not know. Maybe someday I’ll get over my fear of breathing underwater.

    You are Good girl! I love your blend of video and music. Plus, of course your witty way of sharing adventures to “exotic” places. You are an Incredibly Adventures Womyn!

    I’m sure you never have to look far for blog fodder, just the time to write it all up. Seems to be my problem anyway. Still haven’t gotten past the first of four weeks in South Africa. Yet my work season ends Sat and soon I will have winter down time. And, unfortunately, dialup. 🙁

  • October 13, 2010

    That is incredible! I had a hard time watching the last video only because I wear a headset for work and the breathing and the sound of the water made me start feeling irrationally claustrophobic sitting here in my very own living room, lol. And also I have a question, is it normal for a shark to be orange? It reminded me of when I was little and I would eat Tang straight out of the container and my fingers would turn orange…he looks like he has been rolling around in Tang.

  • October 13, 2010

    Seriously, what did you do with my friend Kristin?????????????

    Okay, now I like sharks, but I don’t think I would call them “cute.” Haha!

    AWESOME pics and videos!!!

  • October 13, 2010

    Clearly sharks are nothing like cats, because a shark has never peed on my purse or thrown up curry on our carpet.

    But your pictures look AMAZING!

  • October 13, 2010

    Just looking at these pictures makes me kind of scared.

  • October 13, 2010

    Very cool! And that’s great that you’ve eventually gotten over your fear of sharks. I went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef for the first time recently, and when I saw a reef shark I kind of freaked out. Obviously, it wasn’t going to hurt me, but just seeing a shark, no matter how small, freaked me out.

  • October 13, 2010

    That is awesome…but EEEEEEK, I am such a wuss when it comes to sharks!

  • October 13, 2010

    I’m not that much of a wuss – but I don’t think I’d be jumping in that water with no reservations!

    So when we drove up through Marin County on Saturday, we drove right by the place you had your wedding reception!!

  • October 13, 2010

    Wow, this is pretty cool.
    When your back in Sydney, head to Manly Aquarium and you can swim with the big nurse sharks. Awesome experience.

  • October 14, 2010

    I have snorkeled with sharks in Belize, but there were only two of them and I already had enough!! And for sure they were not as big as the ones you saw… Wow!!
    And the one directly in your face is kind of funny 🙂 I would have got a heartattack…
    Viele Gruesse, KRistina

  • October 14, 2010

    Dude I think I’ve just found my next vacation destination. This looks like so much fun. I can already hear the awesome in my friends voices.

    Thanks for posting!

  • October 14, 2010

    Very cool! This looks awesome. I am terrified of sharks so would love to do this to kick that fear into the stratosphere. Great photos

  • October 14, 2010

    I have hope! Haha, I am severely afraid of sharks and hate going into oceans (or even lakes–I don’t like the thought of little creatures brushing up against me). In a boat, fine. But not just me in the water. I’m happy to hear that you were able to overcome that fear! Great pics.

  • October 14, 2010

    Holy crap! I’m super excited about learning how to scuba dive, but I think I would still be frightened by the sharks – not matter HOW friendly they are. Major props to you!

  • October 14, 2010

    Incredibly gorgeous shots! In Melbourne there is this beach that used to be called Shark Beach… but then they renamed it because no one was going to… wait for it… Safety Beach.

    Kills me.

  • October 15, 2010

    Wow! Gorgeous!! I love this post. When I was in Thailand in 2004 I went scuba diving with sharks every day. At the time we thought they were grey reef sharks but we’ve recently found out they were juvenile bull sharks! They’ve never attacked a single diver.

  • October 16, 2010

    So, is this in an area where sharks are just that prevalent or do they have to chum the water or something? I felt so badly about how the sharks were treated when we went cage diving… hopefully they were taken care of here. Looks like fun though!

  • October 16, 2010

    Wow, those are some neat pictures! I was in Belize and we went snorkeling with the sharks and other creatures…it was amazing!

  • October 17, 2010

    Kristin, your text and the pic of the feet on the steps with sharks piled up in front crack me up. The pic is a great visual joke. Congrats on your progress and thanks for the terrific, fun story and pix.

  • October 22, 2010

    Sharks are my GREATEST fear in life, from the time I was a child. Early run-ins while living in Panama, etc didn’t help and I have always carried an irrational fear of them! You are BRAVE!

  • October 23, 2010

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  • October 24, 2010

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  • October 29, 2010

    Wow.. that is so scary! would be willing to let your swimming baby in there with those sharks?

  • October 29, 2010


    Please don’t be silly… no one would let their infant swim in that water (I hope!). Really silly question.

  • July 11, 2011

    Although my rational mind totally gets it, and despite the fact that I grew up going to Sea World and various aquaria over the years, my lizard brain still freaks out a bit at these images. I think I need to go visit some nurse sharks to get over my heebie geebies! Love your videos, btw. 🙂

    • July 11, 2011

      It took me a quarter of a century to even look at a picture of a shark, let alone contemplate touching one! Now, I’m a big fan of nurse sharks and reef sharks, but I still can’t see an image of a great white without having a full-on panic attack! True story.

  • July 26, 2011

    Jaws totally ruined it for me. That DAMN music plays everytime I cant see the bottom. That and the stingray sting in the arch of my foot while surfing in San Diego. Never felt that much pain ever. ever. ever ever.

  • September 30, 2011

    Glad that you overcame your fear of water and took it a step further becoming buddies with sharks, one extreme to another I must say… Great article~

  • October 24, 2011

    The pictures still look pretty scary 😉 I guess if you can see everyone doing it then it shouldn’ be too bad. Anyways, congratulations on overcoming your fear. I need to do that too as it kinda prevents me from diving which I really want to do in the future.

  • November 10, 2011

    Wow. I’v made a cool video on Maldives too. The shark have had a breakfast near me 🙂 http://victortravelblog.com/2011/10/12/shark-breakfast-vilamendhoo-maldives/

  • August 31, 2012

    wow amazing pictures! it’s my dream as well to swim with a sharks one day 😀 i guess it’s amazing experience? i have done a lot of cruises in the last few years and i love it 🙂 check Cruise Holiday Blog for more info on cruises 🙂

  • April 22, 2013

    Well Done, you’ve clearly overcome your fear in the most striking fashion. But still the video looks pretty scary!

  • August 9, 2013

    WOW you got some amazing photo’s and video of the beautiful sharks at staniel Cay! It is even better that “the girl” was able to overcome here fear and get in with them to see some of their power and greatness. Thanks gain for sharing this wonderful experience.

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