In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…
What is the name of your business?
Brendal’s Dive Center & Adventure Tours
What is your role within the business?
How long has the business operated for?
35 years – we are the oldest continually-owned dive operation in the Abacos-Bahamas
How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?
I have been diving since I was a very young man, now over 45 years. I am a SSI Instructor, SSI ADV Specialty Instructor, ReAct Rite Instructor CPR/First Aid/AED….also taught prior with SDI & Universal Referral Programs for NAUI/SDI/IDEA/SSI/NASDS
What is your favourite type of diving?
I love the reefs & enjoy wrecks, night dives & seeing marine life like sharks, turtles, rays and macro life too.
If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?
We are a small, owner-operated family business with great dive staff & crew. We have invested in 4 tour vessels + 1 sailing vessel to accommodate both group & private charters. We are now doing 3 generations of families for certifications and guided tours.
About 85% of our guests are repeat clients & families we are able to share are underwater world and great Abaco-Bahamas wildlife with.
What is your favourite dive in your location and why?
The Coral Caverns are wonderful swim throughs with great coral formations and sun filtered lighting wonderful for photo work. Lots of sea life BIG and small. This area we have 4 dive sites we can offer all different but wonderful. Lots of bottom time and nice natural light.
What types of diving are available in your location?
Reef shallow – 70 feet (20m) great corals, grouper, tropicals, sharks, turtles & rays.
Wrecks – Historic San Jacinto 50-60 feet (18m) great fish and colors & Wreck Sail just recently put down 50-60 feet nice for photos & fish.
Great mini walls shallow to 55 feet (18m) with corals, sharks, grouper, fish, turtles & eagle rays.
Grouper Alley 50-60 feet (18m) with friendly grouper wonderful !
Deeper Ledge 70-85 feet (26m) with sponges, fish life, turtles & sharks
What do you find most rewarding about your current role?
A passion for diving and sharing the underwater world and I love to teach and guide.
What is your favourite underwater creature?
Love more than one! Groupers are GREAT – very smart and nice to interact with. Sharks …black tip, reef, nurse, bull and hammerheads.
Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?
We are offering NEW all day dive tours to new locations with our new custom tour vessel. We are also offering NEW Wild Turtle Encounters for snorkelers, families and turtle lovers!
We are located off main island of Abaco on Green Turtle Cay so we offer:
Daily free pick up for our guests staying on main island Abaco with our vessel. Because of location we are closer to GREAT dive locations and can reach more locations from the dive base.
Is your centre involved in any environmental work?
Yes, we do wild turtle rescue and help. We started the 1st Lionfish Derby ever in 2009 here. It was developed to be copied and used anywhere in the world to help with lionfish.
We are hoping to do more work with Wild Turtle foundation this next season. We are also wishing to start the coral re-growing program.
How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkelling industry overall? What changes would you make?
¾ of the Bahamas is underwater so we hope many people can SEE and experience this wonderful world young & old. We offer many snorkel tours/experiences here and feel it is important that snorkelers are given information for doing snorkeling since this segment has not been through a dedicated course as divers do when doing scuba classes.
We would like to see better education for use of divers down flags for all people doing snorkelling & free diving.
What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?
Come and experience our sea life & great wildlife above the water with the menu of tours we offer. The Bahamas turtles, sharks & tropical fish are protected here. The Groupers & Lobsters also have protected seasons.
We are located in a non-urban area with wildlife and natural beauty surrounding both in and out of the water. We offer great dive & activity packages and custom packages based on what is best for clients and their vacation dates. Both group & private are available.
Where can our visitors find out more about your business?
Bahamas Cacique Award Winner for Tourism Finest & Bahamas and National GEO Tourism Award
Seahorse National Park announced on Eleuthera in The Bahamas
This week has seen the announcement of the designation of Seahorse National Park at Hatchet Bay Cave and Sweetings Pond on Eleuthera. This monumental announcement comes after years of efforts from the BNT and its partners in advocating for the protection of Sweetings Pond and its surrounding areas as an official national park under the BNT’s management.
Sweetings Pond is a large, land-locked saltwater pond in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera. It has many unique natural features, but the most notable of them all is its incredible seahorse population, which is believed to be the densest population of seahorses in the world. The new 548-acre national park protects the entire one-mile-long pond and the surrounding terrestrial area. The land surrounding Sweetings Pond is a blend of intact coppice, mangroves, and farmlands. In addition, the new national park includes the extensive Hatchet Bay Caves system. This historic cave system is a popular attraction and contains a number of impressive geological features. It is one of the longest dry cave systems in The Bahamas.
Since 2014, the BNT has been leading efforts to have the area declared as a national park. This included years of public outreach and stakeholder consultations in communities across Eleuthera; education presentations in local schools; science and research efforts; and engaging consecutive government administrations. In 2018, the BNT submitted the “20 by 20 Marine Protection Plan” to the government, which included the recommendation to declare Sweetings Pond and other areas in The Bahamas as protected areas.
During the lease signing ceremony for Seahorse National Park, Minister Clay Sweeting, said, “This lease agreement for Sweetings Pond has been a long time coming. It represents a milestone in our journey towards sustainable development. It symbolises our collective responsibility to safeguard our natural heritage and create a harmonious relationship between economic progress and environmental preservation.
“I would like to express my gratitude to all stakeholders in this process of drafting and finalising this lease agreement. Their dedication, expertise, and commitment has been crucial in ensuring that this agreement falls in line with our vision of creating a thriving ecosystem while promoting responsible usage. Let us continue to preserve the jewel that is Sweetings Pond for many generations to come.”
The BNT invites the public to stay tuned for more news about its plan for the country’s newest national park: Seahorse National Park at Hatchet Bay Cave and Sweetings Pond!
To learn more about the role the BNT plays in managing terrestrial and marine national parks, conserving wildlife, and informing environmental policy, please visit its website: www.bnt.bs
Banner Image: A lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus), female, clining to algae in an alkaline pond in The Bahamas by Shane Gross
PADI Club invites Ocean Lovers on exclusive dive trip to Bonaire this September
Following the popularity of the PADI Club trip to Belize at the end of July, a second “dive trip of a lifetime” has just been announced by PADI Club to Bonaire this September 23-30, 2023.
Offered exclusively for PADI Club members as part of their yearly benefits, attendees will get to seek adventure while staying at the all-inclusive Buddy Dive Resort, one of PADI’s premier members on the island. Other PADI Members in Bonaire – including Toucan Divers, Divi Flamingo, Wanna Dive, Dive Friends and Scuba Do – will also be hosting various dive experiences throughout the week.
“Bonaire is a unique and beautiful gem in the Dutch Caribbean and we want to show our Club Members this little island looms large as a dive destination,” says Zach Pavkov, PADI Club Operations Manager. “This trip offers participants a chance to not only explore a world-class diving destination but do so through some of the very best PADI Operators.”
PADI Club members will receive a generous discount for this seven-day diving adventure, with packages starting at $1,739 per diver for double occupancy.
Included in the package are:
- social events that include hosted dinners, cocktail parties and live music
- transportation in Buddy Dive Resort’s famous pick-up truck
- daily shore diving and boat diving
- accommodation, with the option to share a room with another solo diver or rent out one, two and three-bedroom apartments to host larger groups of divers
- surface interval activities that include PADI Seminars and island excursions like hiking and bird-watching.
“Because the water surrounding Bonaire has been an established marine park for 44 years, Bonaire is now a top-ranked destination with abundant marine life that includes scorpionfish, flounder and frogfish, moray eels, hawksbill turtles and eagle rays, ” continues Pavkov.
With limited spots available, the list of participants will be decided on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who are not yet PADI Club Members but are interested in joining the trip can sign-up, which will also give them access to:
- 20% of PADI eLearning® programs and PADI Gear™
- a free ReActivate® online refresher
- a free DAN® Prepared Diver course
- a subscription to Scuba Diving® magazine
- access to the PADI Club Celebrity Speaker Series webinars
- brand partner benefits from GoPro, Uber, Salt Life and more
To further support ocean lovers to create positive ocean change, five percent of the PADI Club membership fee will go towards supporting conservation efforts around the globe.
“PADI Club benefits are designed not just to empower divers to explore the ocean, but also enable them to play a pivotal role in saving the ocean too,” says Pavkov. “This year’s additional expedition to Bonaire gives our community the chance to come together and explore our shared blue planet in a truly meaningful and connected way.”