Peak Paddleboarding and Snorkeling at Conception Island

The water at Conception Island was exceptionally clear when we visited in early April. That great visibility, paired with a still early morning before any wind rippled the water’s surface, made for some superb paddleboarding viewing of coral, colorful tropical fish, and a steely eyed barracuda hovering beneath Vinyasa.

Elkhorn coral viewed from the paddleboard.

From the paddleboard, small tropical fishes could be seen swimming around the coral.

Conception is a national park managed by the Bahamas National Trust, which means fishing is prohibited and wildlife can flourish. We heard more birdsong than anywhere else in The Bahamas, and enjoyed watching long tail tropic birds soaring overhead, their white bellies reflecting the water’s turquoise tint.

So much coral to see…

When the breeze stirred the water’s surface, it was time to go for a dinghy ride around the island. We could still see coral heads clearly—and were impressed by their abundance. Unfortunately, once we hopped into the water to snorkle we also saw a lot of bleaching.

The tall coral heads were still impressive. Where the water was too deep to anchor the dinghy, we snorkled while pulling the dinghy along between us. It was comforting to be holding on to the ladder when two barracudas kept circling ever closer, in case a quick exit from the water were to become necessary.

Ready to snorkle while circumnavigating the island by dinghy.
The mangroves are breathtakingly beautiful.

The day before, we’d dinghied through 4-foot waves to get to the entrance of the extensive mangroves on the island’s interior. It was worth it to explore the beautiful waterways where we saw dozens of turtles, a manta ray, and two small lemon sharks.

Happy to be safely in Conception Creek, past the breaking waves, after an exciting dinghy ride to the mangroves.

We encountered one other dinghy in the mangroves, and were happy to strike up a conversation with the lovely couple onboard. We parted ways with plans to reconnect at a beachside cruiser’s potluck that evening, which was a fun way to end the day.