This is George the Nassau grouper. He and I became best buds.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with diving. Although John and I have been PADI-certified for a long time, it’s only been in the last couple of years (since we moved to Panama) that we’ve finally gotten a decent number of confidence-building dives under our belts. Up until then, I just didn’t see the point, because I hadn’t had any peak diving experiences. Murky water, dead coral, cumbersome and heavy equipment, and always a little twinge of fear that something would go wrong. Remind me again why I want to spend my day, and a chunk of money, doing this?

Me, in full-on blissed-out diver mode

That all changed yesterday when we dove the Fowl Cays National Park in the Abacos, Bahamas. It was by far the clearest water and best visibility that I – and John, who’s got more experience – have ever had. Lots and lots of beautiful fish, relatively healthy and colorful coral, and interesting caves to swim through. At times it felt like we were swimming around in a big aquarium in someone’s living room, and if we looked closely we could see couches, coffee tables, and TV sets in the distance. I’ve finally had my peak experience, and it’s the first time I’ve ever felt truly calm, comfortable, and at peace with the whole diving thing.

But wait, you say. You people just got back from a big trip to Colombia, right? What are you doing in the

Michael, the owner of Dive Time, keeps a watchful eye

Bahamas? The short answer is that we actually had this trip planned well before we decided to spend the holidays in Colombia, which is an easy and inexpensive trip from Panama. We usually try to go somewhere nice for our anniversary, and, well, the hourglass is sifting away. Carpe diem, Bahamas!

Here’s a shout-out to Michael (owner) and David (our dive master) at Dive Time, out of Marsh Harbor. If you ever find yourselves in the Abacos with a jones for diving, they’re your guys. Thanks again for a great day, Michael and David!

Heading out. Me on the right, with a (minor) problem – my tank wasn’t securely attached.
David the dive master to the rescue, with an assist from George the grouper
Please? I want to help!
Really, George?? This was one persistent fish! He actually brushed my cheek just after this pic.
Good to go. Experienced divers – yes, I know my octopus was loose. I was taking care to keep it off the coral and I fixed it for the second dive.
George was this big! Quite a bit bigger, actually
Swimming in an aquarium. Sergeant majors, blue tangs, and yellowtail snappers
Happy Chanukah, from 40 below!
Crazy great visibility!
This little sergeant major just wouldn’t cooperate for my picture!
Swimming through “The Tunnels”
Jonn and yellowtail snapper buddies
Swimming through “The Tunnels”
Just – ahhh!
Beautiful fan coral
Swimming through another tunnel


  1. Mary Lea (Mimi) Reply

    Wow! What beautiful photography. You made your dive sound inviting. I’m happy just to read about it!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Mimi! It was a great day!!

  2. Susan, we snorkeled Fowl Cay National Park several years ago when we stayed on Abaco and Guana Cay. It was amazing! Even saw a sea turtle! Love to hear how it compares to Hawaii??

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Oh, wow, didn’t know you were here before! We only went diving once in Hawaii, on the Big Island. It was nice but didn’t come anywhere close to our experience here. In general, we love the Bahamas but – boy, coming from Panama – we’re having sticker shock! $7 for a local beer – insane! Even more expensive than Hawaii.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you! Finally getting the hang of our new underwater camera.

  3. Karen L Johnson Reply

    So nice to experience your dive! Beautiful pictures!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks – glad you liked the post!

  4. George is awesome! Great pictures! I also struggle with diving, but then have those great moments that keep me coming back. Maybe we should head to the Bahamas for the clear warm water for some confidence building dives!! Thanks for the post, I really enjoyed it!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You are so welcome! And you’d love diving here. Maybe it’s the time of year, or the cooler weather they’ve been having that helped with the visibility, but it really was spectacular.

  5. What an underwater paradise! Admittedly, I am a bit scared to try diving. I am an avid snorkeler but fear giving up ‘control’ by going further into the deep. The Captain is a Master Diver but because we don’t have a compressor on board and he likes to hang out with me, he usually only snorkels these days too. Still, your images are motivating me to give this sport a second look!

    • Hi Lisa! I am so sorry I never replied to your comment. Talk about a late reply! But thanks for commenting. I too was a timid diver, and it took a while for me to get over the “fear factor.” But as John, my husband, said, I just needed to have a few outstanding dives under my belt – and that’s what happened in the Bahamas. When we were traveling on our sailboat, we also didn’t have a compressor, so our diving was pretty limited to scrubbing the bottom 🙂 But snorkeling can be great too.

      • Well the Bahamas is probably the most beautiful place to get comfortable diving. Those clear, blue, blue waters are second to none.

  6. It looks so fun..gosh, your post made me miss scuba diving already 😀 Is that a grouper fish who keep following you? 😀

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Yes! A Nassau grouper. He was WAY too friendly 🙂

  7. Oh this sounds so wonderful! Don and I were quickly taught how to dive in choppy water at the Great Barrier Reef. It freaked me out too much so I snorkelled, but Don did 3 dives! Anyway even snorkelling it’s an experience I’ll never forget. I’m sure this dive was the same for you. Sounds so rewarding in so many ways.

  8. John and Susan Pazera Reply

    Thank you, Alison! We’ve been diving a few times since, but still nothing compares to that day. It was really magical. And it’s a bittersweet memory, since the part of the Bahamas we visited was completely decimated by Hurricane Dorian in 2020. Very sad. Anyway, thanks for visiting and commenting!

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