The History of Snorkeling in the Bahamas

People have been fascinated by the exotic world beneath the sea for centuries. From early sponge fishermen to Assyrian diving warriors and Renaissance inventors, men have been drawn to the mysterious depths of the ocean for centuries. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Bahamas, long considered one of the best snorkeling spots in the world. Visitors flock to this tropical paradise for its balmy weather, silken sandy beaches and brilliantly beautiful undersea reefs and fish. There are so many amazing things to do in Freeport, from shopping to theme parks, but little compares to the joy of gliding over warm aqua waters and watching the color parade of sea creatures and coral formations stream by.

Early Snorkelers

Today, snorkeling is viewed mainly as an exciting holiday activity, but long ago simple breathing tubes had more practical purposes. The earliest snorkelers were thought to be sponge farmers on the Greek island of Crete, who used hollow reeds to breathe through as they collected sponges from the bottom of the sea as long ago as 3000 B.C. Ancient armies also found snorkel-type tubes useful in battle strategies. Bas-relief paintings from around 900 B.C. show Assyrian soldiers using animal skins filled with air to allow them to breathe underwater while sneaking up on enemy water craft, while ancient Greek armies gained great advantage over the Persians by using hollow reeds to swim underwater over to enemy ships and cut them adrift.

Inventors From Around the World

The constant lure of the sea encouraged ingenious creations by some of the world’s great minds, from soldiers to inventors, philosophers and artists. Aristotle compared breathing through a tube to taking in air much the way an elephant would, while legendary conqueror Alexander the Great encouraged the invention of the diving bell, designed to allow a pocket of air to be brought underwater for divers to breathe in.

Snorkeling Goes on Vacation

The early twentieth century invention of modern fins and waterproof goggles helped modernize diving and bring it into the realm of leisure activities. Today’s snorkelers enjoy relaxing swims close to shore or venture off on exciting snorkeling tours to secluded coves, offshore reefs and eerily romantic wrecks.

Snorkeling in the Bahamas

Once a haven for pirates and brigands, the Bahamas today is a world-famous holiday destination, and snorkeling remains a big part of the recreational activities in this picturesque paradise. Back as far as 1492, when the Spanish colonized the Bahamas, divers have been gliding through these Caribbean waters in search of seafood, sponges and valuable shells. With the islands now enjoying a thriving tourist economy, snorkeling is now a big part of a Bahamas vacation, from shallow reefs to magnificent coral heads.

Shipwrecks of the Out Islands

The reefs of the Bahamas have wrecked many a ship from Spanish galleons to massive freighters, and exploring these ancient undersea remains is a snorkeler’s dream-come-true. Smothered in sponges, coral and marine vegetation, these ships become reefs themselves, reborn as homes to creatures of the deep. Located mainly in the Out Islands, historic ship wrecks run the gamut from small sailboats to Civil War steamships and a Prohibition rum runner, offering an incomparable chance to dive into history. Many ships rest in shallow waters, offering some enthralling snorkeling.

Pirate Treasure

The crystalline seas around the Bahamas may hold more than brilliantly hued fish and magnificent coral formations. According to local lore, the seas around this former pirate haunt may be the burial ground for caches of pirate loot. With some 700 islands surrounded by shallow waters and adjacent to major shipping lanes, pirates like Blackbeard, Sir Henry Morgan and Calico Jack made off with substantial loads of gold and jewels, much of it rumored to be hidden throughout the Bahamas.