Wild. Dolphin. Swim.
This trip was once-in-a-lifetime stuff. There were some surprises along the way, but from the moment I discovered the boat a few years ago, we always knew that spending a week on a live-aboard in the Bahamas, swimming and free-diving with a wild pod of dolphins was just going to be off the scale.
It’s not the easiest place to get to, but the journey was a memorable one. After a transatlantic flight to Florida, we made our way to a little airfield where we caught a light aircraft for the hop over the water to Bimini. Amazing views surrounded us, from Miami and the Florida coast, to the approaching islands of the Bahamas. We touched down on a little airstrip that you’d really struggle to call an airport, and made our way to the boat, moored in a little marina right out on the end of the island. Full of excitement, we and the other guests that would be joining us for the week clambered aboard. After dropping our gear in our cabins, and a bit of an orientation briefing, it wasn’t long before we were underway. Our first destination was a little uninhabited cay, home to a whole load of very friendly rays!
We anchored in the bay, and snorkeled over to the immaculate white sandy beach, even passing a barracuda on the way, and then walked along the cay a little way to the favoured spot for the rays. WE spent the next hour or two sat in the shallows, being mobbed by dozens of these amazing creatures, ranging in size from 50cm across to well over a metre. The bigger ones were pretty strong too – enough to push you over when they got a bit over excited for a piece of calamari! We really didn’t want to leave this beautiful little strip of sand behind, but the promise of the dolphins gradually drew us away, and we made our way back to the boat, already buzzing, and impatient to see what other amazing experiences the week would bring us.
The next few days were spent exploring the surrounding seas, on the lookout for the dolphins, amongst other wildlife. There were quiet times, rough seas, action-packed times, and everything in between. We all became adept at leaping off, and climbing back aboard the boat, often in some not insignificant swell! We were treated to some of mother nature’s finest, from distant lighting storms, to utterly beautiful sunrises & sunsets. We snorkeled, free-dived, and were towed behind the boat on ropes. We saw nurse sharks, lemon sharks, turtles, and all manner of fish… and we saw dolphins. Wow, did we see dolphins.
We had a couple of long, close and really amazing interactions with a decent sized pod of maybe twenty or so of Biminis spectacular bottlenose. It’s difficult to put into words just what an experience this is. The emotion & intelligence of these marvellous creatures is palpable. The way they sidle up to you, full of curiosity, and stare you straight in the eye, is something that you can’t help but be moved by. They seem especially interested in the reflective housings of underwater cameras. They take obvious enjoyment from playing with us… responding with mirrored dives, twists & tumbles as we dove down from the surface. There was a mum & two calves – the young ones were especially interested in us, desperate to come close and see what we were, whilst mum was happy to oblige, up to a point. If she felt they’d got a bit too close to the strange cumbersome poor-swimming four-limbed things she’s issue a series of little clicks and squeaks to tell them that was close enough.
It was just magical. An experience and collection of memories that I know will stay with me forever. I hope with all my heart that one day I’ll be able to do this again, but until then, looking through the photos & videos and remembering, will have to do.