Pristene diving on the south end of Eleuthera
The shore line on the south end of Eleuthera runs in a SE-NW direction with the wall being very close to shore. The body of water is call the Exuma Sound, being part of the Atlantic Ocean with depths of 4-5,000' within a mile of shore. The deep ocean waters are cool and very clear, 75' of visibility is considered a bad day here. The shore line is protected from the North or East winds which can disrupt dive trips in most places in the winter time. There is an abundance of live and thriving coral along with excellent marine life.
If you see another boat while out on a dive trip it is likely someone deep sea fishing. With only eight divers on a trip, the dives are truly unique, unhurried experiences. Below are a few of our unique and vibrant dive sites.
Christmas Tree wall and Pinnacle
The Christmas Tree dive site is our most popular site and is known for the opportunity to see reef sharks, with an occasional bull and black tip shark along with large grouper, jacks, lobster and spider crabs, and oh yea throw in a spotted moray eel now and again.
The first dive is a wall dive, max depth of 100', and out over the wall it is just deep blue looking down with no bottom. The second dive is the Christmas Tree pinnacle, with a top of reef around 15' and a sea floor around 50'. The Christmas Tree gets its name from all the Christmas Tree worms on the coral formations, which come in a multitude of colors.
Rich's Canyon and Blackbeard's Treasure Hole.
Rich's Canyon is a wall dive with swim throughs; with experienced divers we can do 3 to 4 swim thoughs on one dive. The first swim through starts at about 55' as you descend down the "chimmey" to a sand floor at 74', through the swim through and exiting on the wall at 94'. Out over the wall it is just deep blue below. The wall and the top of the wall have excellent coral formations and good marine life. This was one of our first ever Exploration Dives with a good friend Richard Logan who the site is named after.
Blackbeard's Treasure Hole is a boiling hole with 20+ species of coral, 4 types of anemones and a very nice fish population along with an occasional Hawksbill turtle.The Boiling hole is an underwater connection to the Atlantic Ocean through the cavernous limestone which allows deep ocean water to boil through on an incoming Atlantic tide. These are small blue holes, but offer enhanced marine life around them due to the colder Atlantic nutrient rich water which flows through twice a day with the tide.
If we see a turtle, we let any female diver lead the group, as the turtles can tell the difference between males and females, and they are less likely to spook and swim away with a female leading. We swim slowly toward the turtle and once within 5' we swim parallel or slightly away from the turtle so as not to make them feel threatened.
Shark Tease & Thick Finger Reef
Shark Tease and Thick Finger Reef. These two sites were discovered as exploration dives after flying over the area in a private plane and noticing two pinnacles near the wall. These sites are relatively close to the Christmas Tree site and as a result we almost are always joined by several sharks. This site was named by Terri Martin, and her husband John, who come back and dive every year.
The Shark Tease is a wall dive with some extraordinary cuts or caverns to swim in on the way down the wall. The wall is very steep and there is an abundance of coral formations. We are usually joined by the sharks while out on the wall, and looking down it is just deep blue below.
The Thick Finger reef is one of two small pinnacles, Thick Finger has a small boiling hole associated with the reef, which is not visible but can be felt on an incoming tide. Thus Thick Finger has some very nice coral formations which are thriving, while the adjacent pinnacle, about 150’ to the West, is not nearly as vibrant. Thick Finger is where, if we have very experienced divers, we will feed lion fish to the sharks.
Canyon of Anchors
The Canyon of Anchors is formed by a large block of reef which became detached from the wall but has not slid down the wall itself. The canyon is from 4-6’ wide and when exiting on either end you are out on a beautiful wall with deep blue and an anchor on the West side of the Canyon. This site as well was found on an Exploration Wall dive.
Turtle point is a wall dive with a dramatic reef on the top of the wall. On the shore side of the wall the water is a little over 90’ with the top of the wall rising up to about 60’, which is an unusual vertical relief for this area. The wall is extremely vertical and loaded with great coral formations, both soft corals (sea rods, sea fans, sea plumes, sea whips) and the traditional hard corals. This was an Exploration Wall dive and the first two times we dove this site we saw a turtle, thus named by my good friend Dave Pichler.
Bridge South Wall dive
Bridge South Wall dive which has to be done on a falling or slack tide due to the location on the Bridge. This is the most technical of all of our dives. The south wall of the bridge is vertical, meaning that if the tide/current is rising there is a chance of a downdraft current as the south wall is extremely vertical and a large amount of water has to pass between the narrow area between SE Eleuthera and Little San Salvador.
So to safely dive this site the tide has to be slack or starting to fall where the water movement is from South to North (so if you get pushed by the current you are pushed up onto the bridge). But due to the proximity of the bridge and the open ocean water moving over the bridge, the coral formations on the south wall of the bridge are just over the top. Take your favorite coral and if a nice specimen is 2 feet in diameter, on the south wall it is 8-10 in diameter or elongated.
Bridge Drift Dives
Bridge Drift Dives, diving the bridge between Southeast Eleuthera and Little San Salvador where the water on either side of the “bridge” connecting these two islands is several thousand feet deep but rises to 30-60 feet on the crest of the bridge with the distance between the islands being some twelve (12) miles. Currents typically are in the 1-3 knot range, but at times can be 4-5 knots; visibility is never less than 100+ feet and is even clearer most of the time. Depending on the current, dives typically cover 0.4-0.8 miles and last (if you are good on air) 35-50 minutes.
The bridge is an amazing place, the marine life is different than on the Exuma Sound, corals are different, good specimens of soft corals and if we can find the structures (wash outs in the limestone) the fish populations are amazing. But because of the conditions, tide, sea state, waves, current, almost no two dives are ever the same. We have drifted along and right out in the open is a 6-7' nurse shark, which at first I thought was injured, but then we got close and in a flash it was gone. We will most likely be exploring the bridge 20 years from now, so much bridge to cover.... so little time.