There is no animal in the world’s oceans that we love to fear more than sharks. So, why not jump into the shallows to go swimming with them. Compass Cay is the perfect place to do so.

The truth about sharks is that they are overall benign creatures that are more interested in finding food items they are evolved to eat than they are in humans. This is especially true when it comes to nurse sharks, which are more like catfish than the giant animatronic monster from Jaws.

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At Campus Cay in Exuma, Bahamas, there is a little spot where you can go swimming with nurse sharks. They are well-fed, and mostly interested in what's lying in the sand so they won't bother you much if you don’t bother them. They are quite photogenic too, so feel free to snap some photos with them. Just be a little conscious about your behavior, they are big enough to hurt you if you don’t show them proper respect.

what you should know About Nurse Sharks

Nurse Sharks are sometimes referred to as the laziest of the sharks. They are often visible resting on the seafloor, in caves, or stacked on other nurse sharks. They don’t need to swim to breathe so it gives them the impression of being lazy when they are spotted just laying around. They are nocturnal predators that will skim the coastal seafloor attempting to locate food. They will suck in this food as well as sand but they are able to expend the sand through their gills.

Nurse sharks are generally harmless to humans. Their only documented attacks have occurred when they have been provoked and felt it necessary to defend themselves. Their jaws are lined with thousands of small razor-sharp teeth, so the attack would hurt, but it wouldn’t be life-threatening. As long as caution is employed while in the presence of nurse sharks, they are perfectly safe to be in the water with.

  • Typical Length - 3.08m (10ft 1.5in)
  • Typical Lifespan - 35 years
  • Appearance - brownish and flat with flexible fins
  • Where they are found - the Eastern Atlantic, Western Atlantic, and Eastern Pacific.

The Nurse Sharks of Compass Cay Marina

75 miles south of Nassau, about mid-way up the exotic Exuma Cays, is Compass Cay. The sharks of Compass Cay have been here for years and have become quite acclimated to their human neighbors. Often fed when they come to shore, the sharks are referred to as pets by the community. Many of them have names, and thanks to how long nurse sharks live, have become well known as they continuously return to the area.

As long as you follow a few basic rules that you will be informed of, travelers are welcome to swim with their sharks. Take photos with them, learn their names, and perhaps learn something about them as individuals that are part of Compass Cay’s community.

Rules

  • Do not feed the sharks while swimming
  • Keep away from their mouths
  • Respect them - do not pull, ride, or carry

Some of their names

  • Woody
  • Jack
  • Lefty
  • Chunky
  • Ross
  • Hermon
  • Squirt
  • Mutt
  • Hook
  • Jack
  • Corn Maia
  • Exzooma

Related: Here’s Everything You Shouldn’t Be Doing In The Bahamas

Plan Your Trip to compass cay

If you are looking for the best experience swimming with nurse sharks, it is recommended to do so between the months of June and October. This however is mostly due to calmer water conditions that will make swimming with them more pleasant. You can actually visit them at any point during the year.

This being said, you will probably want to do more than just swim with sharks during your time at Compass Cay. There are several long sandy beaches nearby that can be relaxing without the presence of sharks. There are also a few locations for snorkeling. If you are looking for another once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can make the quick jump to Big Major Cay to swim with pigs

  • Allen’s Cay - hang out with the protected Iguanas of Exuma Rock.
  • Normans Cay - snorkel around the infamous Pablo Escobar’s plane crash.
  • Aquarium - snorkel in this ecological preserve a wildlife refuge.
  • Big Major Cay - Swim, feed, and otherwise interact with these wild swimming pigs.
  • Black Point - view beautiful docks here and perhaps jump from them into the crystal clear blue water.

Related: Caribbean Vs. Bahamas: Which Islands Make For A Better Tropical Vacation?

additional Things to Know about visiting compass cay

Compass Cay can be accessed by boat via Exuma Bank or Exuma Sound. One popular way to get there is to access it via a water taxi from Staniel Cay. If you are not part of a group tour you can often find water taxis by the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. If you have you are in possession of a water vehicle you can dock it in Compass Cay at a cost of $4 dollars per foot.

  • Tour Cost - $275-600
  • Water Tax Average Cost - $4 dollars per person

Next: Bahamas: Did You Know There Was Once A "Republic of Pirates"?