If what your heart desires is a magnificent vacation to an island that is nothing short of paradise, then you are surely already planning your trip to the Islands of the Bahamas. If your desire extends to the world of diving, then you’re going to the right place for it. As a choice destination for diving enthusiasts, the Bahamas have very little competition to rival it, and none to surpass it. The islands boast a dive infrastructure that few can match—a varied, thriving marine environment and a wide choice of dive sites that include every conceivable venue. From caves, to wrecks, to exotic animal encounters, the Islands of the Bahamas offer it all. As a whole, the Islands can treat divers to a seemingly endless range of diving possibilities.

But what of non-divers? What of those seeking to find an entry into the sport of scuba diving? Fret not, for there are simple steps that can be followed to bring you into the amazing sport of diving.

Step 1

Locate an Open Water (OW) scuba diving course and get yourself registered. You can also go helmet diving if you don’t already have your OW certification. You’ll find OW classes are available all over the Bahamas, some offering certification after as little as three days of classroom study and training dives. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) may allow completion of course work online, in some cases. This can reduce the dive training and certification time to two or three days. Helmet diving in Nassau requires no prior training and is an available option if you aren’t interested in taking dive lessons.

Step 2

Get in on one of the renowned shark encounter dives found in the Bahamas. Almost every island along the archipelago hosts some sort of shark encounter dive. These adventures put you up close with some big, but basically harmless, Caribbean reef sharks. If you’re looking for something a bit more hair-raising, there are cage diving excursions on Grand Bahama that get you in the water with man-eating tiger sharks.

Step 3

Take a day trip to a freshwater cave, or go diving in an open blue hole, if you’re on Grand Bahama, Andros, or one of the Abacos Islands. Famed for their underwater caverns and sea caves, the Bahamas have options that are at least partially suitable for novice cave divers or those with no training. In most cases, a dive group operates with a cave-certified dive master supervising the outing.

Step 4

If you’re up for a bit of traveling, head to Bimini for one of the world’s oddest underwater attractions. The famous “Bimini Roadway” is an underwater rock formation that many have labeled a relic of the lost city of Atlantis. Although most scientific studies have determined that the “road” is most probably a natural formation, it continues to be featured in documentaries about Atlantis and in programming about strange phenomena.

Step 5

Catch a ride on a dive boat out to one of the coral-encrusted walls or colorful reefs of the Bahamas. The Tongue of the Ocean, the most famous of the reefs, is between the islands of New Providence and Andros, but every island in the Bahamas has a set of reefs and walls that are sure to amaze.