Sacha Kalis, better known as @_bahamasgirl_, is more than just a beach bum—she spends her days as a modern-day mermaid! Sacha’s magical underwater photos mesmerize more than 650k people (and that’s just on Instagram!). Many of you know her through Instagram (go follow her if you don’t), but we wanted to go below the surface and get the Ambassador for the Bahamas National Trust’s pearls of wisdom on the Bahamas in an exclusive interview.
👉 Check out a special surprise and enter to win a four-night beach getaway from Beach.com and @_bahamasgirl_ below! ✈️🏖
Beach: Were you born in the Bahamas? If not, how did you end up there?
Sacha: Yes, I was born and raised in the Bahamas. I live on a very small island where I am never far from the beach and ocean.
Beach: How did you get into underwater photography?
Sacha: My mom @elenakalis is an artist and became interested in photography when I was small. We soon started experimenting underwater, and that led to images that, at that time, people had never seen before.
The weightlessness and the interesting way that light behaves underwater creates a dream-like, otherworldly atmosphere that is striking.
Water has a very special appeal to people, maybe because it’s also where we came from.
Beach: How long can you hold your breath for and who taught you how to free dive?
Sacha: I was in the water every day even before I could walk. It came naturally to me. I love the relaxing and soothing feeling of being in and around the water. I’m not a deep diver, so it has never been something that I trained for…maybe a minute or two.
Beach: What’s the most incredible thing you’ve ever witnessed underwater?
Sacha: Every day I am underwater is an adventure, and you never know what you’re going to see. Whether it’s a pod of dolphins or a group of eagles rays, or even a peaceful starfish, it’s always a thrill to share their world. Manatees are funny, and sharks inspire awe. Beautiful reef structures can leave you speechless, and how can Conch shells grow so pretty? Is a girl allowed to be undecided in a situation like this?
Beach: What is your favorite downtime activity in the Bahamas when you’re not shooting?
Sacha: I love to read, I also enjoy cooking and spending time with family and friends, as well as finding new places to explore.
Beach: Favorite spot to free dive?
Sacha: I have too many! The Bahamas is full of them.
Beach: What was your experience like diving with sharks for the first time?
Sacha: I have been swimming with sharks my whole life.
I don’t recognize the popular image of sharks that has been created by Hollywood and others with an agenda.
Every experience that I have had with them has been peaceful and mesmerizing. That is not to say that they aren’t powerful and can be dangerous when they want to be, but that is not how they respond without cause. Stingrays have had a similarly bad rap because of a widely publicized freak accident some years ago.
Beach: For someone who has never been to the Bahamas, what’s the one thing that is a must do/see?
Sacha: It depends on where you are, but from my point of view it is of course to get in the beautiful, clear, turquoise water and explore, or relax. There are many beautiful beaches to walk, where you can lose all your cares. In Nassau, there are world-class resorts, but I live in the Out Islands that are sometimes a little more challenging to get to and to find accommodation but worth the effort.
Beach: Favorite collaboration?
Sacha: I have had so many that were amazing and unique in their own way, but I have recently started working together with the Bahamas National Trust, a non-profit, membership-supported organization that protects and manages the most beautiful underwater areas in the Bahamas and the creatures that live there. This is such an incredibly important responsibility that it must be my favorite cause.
Beach: What are your goals/responsibilities as Ambassador of the Bahamas National Trust?
Sacha: The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) manages 32 National Parks spread over more than two million acres of exceptional natural beauty and unique biodiversity both above and below the water.
Our aim is to bring international awareness to these treasures, in the hope of protecting some of the world’s most unique and vulnerable habitats for future generations.
The air, the ocean and the creatures that live there know no political boundaries. If we are to make sacrifices for human progress, we should at least make them with our eyes open.
Beach: Goals/aspirations for the rest of 2018/2019?
If I can help inform and inspire others to make the world a better and happier place, then I will have done a job worth doing.