Saturday, June 30, 2012

Snorkeling, Scuba Diving and More

The Bahamas are a great place to take a vacation. There are a myriad of things to do, many of which happen in water. Snorkeling and scuba diving are great activities for the Bahamas. The clear Caribbean seas and the warm temperatures of both air and water make snorkeling and scuba diving quite enjoyable. Furthermore, the seas are generally calm, with little wave activity and small variation in tides. 

For snorkeling, you'll need a mask, snorkel, swim fins and sometimes a wetsuit. Although the Caribbean waters are not really cold enough to need a wetsuit, they can assist with buoyancy. Scuba diving is a little more involved. In addition to what you'd need when snorkeling, you'll also need a scuba set, which involves pressurized air tanks, a regulator and various gauges. Also scuba diving requires a much more extensive level of training and certification. If something goes wrong when snorkeling, fixing it is usually a matter of raising one's head above water and dealing with the issue. But, scuba diving, in the hostile environment of the deep ocean, must be conducted in such a way that accidents are prevented.

Other great activities include parasailing and paragliding. Much like snorkeling and scuba diving seem similar at first glance, but upon closer inspection one is much more skill and gear intensive, so are paragliding and parasailing. Both involve being supported by a harness under an inflatable wing high above the ground or water, but the similarities end there. Parasailers are towed by a boat, and fly much the same way that a kite flies when pulled by a running child. The parasail (or the child's kite) does not control its own speed, height or any of the other aspects of flight, but simply floats along. Thus, a parasailer does not really need any skill.

Paragliders fly untethered, and are essentially very small gliders. A glider is an aircraft, and flying a paraglider requires skill and knowledge of basic aircraft mechanics and weather conditions. Because a paraglider has no engine, the pilot must seek out updrafts. The glider is flying downward at an angle all the time, and to stay aloft, it must fly through air that is moving up faster than it is moving down. Updrafts can happen for a variety of reasons, including air moving up over mountains, or rising from a sun-heated farm field. But since air is invisible, finding these currents is a matter of observing the terrain and weather conditions.

A Bahama vacation that includes paragliding or parasailing will be very special indeed. In fact, a vacation in the Bahamas can be a great place to learn these airsports, since the weather is often good, and the winds are often steady.

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