The Caribbean really does have it all, from stunning natural beaches to world-class diving and attractions. Swimming with sharks also makes the list. While this activity has its own fear factor, rest assured the nurse sharks of the Caribbean do not feed on humans and are renowned for being gentle. At Compass Cay in the Exumas, you can tread water out in the open while schools of sharks swim by, no tanks or dive cages needed.
Want to give it a go? Here’s everything you need to swim with nurse sharks in the Bahamas.
About the Nurse Sharks at Compass Cay
Nurse sharks may look fierce, with their big dorsal fins, catfish shape, and up to seven-foot-long bodies, but these predators aren’t interested in humans for dinner. Instead, they’re actually quite friendly, allowing swimmers to pet and touch them, you’ll even find them floating up on the deck of Compass Cay Marina, hoping for a nice rub.
These particular nurse sharks first arrived at Compass Cay when the owner of the marina opened shop. He brought with him several nurse sharks, and before long, the family grew. Thanks to the marina’s staff serving up regular scraps to the sharks, they’ve remained loyal to the spot and hang out around feeding time.
How to Go Swimming with Nurse Sharks
While you can rent a boat and head to Compass Cay on your own, most people choose to book a tour that takes them right from their resort to the island. Check out a local excursion company like Island Rentals, which offers day tours to Compass Cay as well as the swimming pigs, iguana beach, Thunderball Grotto, or Island Boy Adventures, which takes you on a private tour on a 35-foot cruiser to the area.
Tips for Swimming with the Nurse Sharks
Even though the nurse sharks are friendly, you still want to take a few precautions when swimming with them. Keep the following in mind during your experience:
- Always pet the sharks on their backs and avoid their mouths.
- Keep your hands out of the water if the sharks are eating, as they might accidentally mistake your fingers for a snack.
- Never go in the water if you have an open wound, as sharks are attracted to blood.
- Stay calm and be kind to the sharks.
Other Animal Encounters
The Caribbean is a go-to for animal lovers, with natural environments like Big Major Cay and Compass Cay in the Bahamas, but there are numerous animal experiences to be had. In Jamaica, ride horses along the beach in Montego Bay, or swim with giant Manta rays in Tobago. Explore animal encounters including whale watching, flamingo flocking and more.
Exploring the Exumas
Exuma is a region of the Bahamas consisting of 365 cays and islands just 35 miles southeast of Nassau. A hot spot for water sports and stunning ocean views, visitors to the Bahamas come to the Exumas for water sports, natural scenery and stunning, clear ocean views. Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park has some of the most spotless beaches in the Caribbean, all untouched because the park operates under a “no-take reserve,” meaning conservation is a huge priority and fishing is prohibited. Scuba dive and snorkel here or relax on the shore and spot the Bahamian iguanas darting around in their natural habitats.