Thunderball Grotto in the Bahamas just may be one of the most exciting snorkelling trips you’ll ever take. The James Bond movie Thunderball was filmed here as well as Never Say Never Again, Splash starring Tom Hanks and Into the Blue with Jessica Alba and Paul Walker.
Thunderball Grotto In The Exuma Cays
Once you visit the Exumas and make your way to Thunderball Grotto, you’ll understand why Hollywood has taken such an interest in this gorgeous location.
I don’t think we have ever seen water quite so beautiful as they are in the Bahamas. We never took the Bahamas seriously before our trip to the Exumas. It is a destination that most people that we know, stop off at for a day trip during a Caribbean Cruise.
But as it turns out, The Bahamas are outstanding and the Exumas are undeniably the crown jewel of the island chain. For more James Bond travel, see our visit to the Green Grotto Caves in Jamaica. The setting for Live and Let Die.
You can book a day tour to Thunderball Grotto from Nassau. This highly-rated tour lets you explore Thunderball Grotto, Pig Island, Swim with Sharks, see the indigenous iguana on Guana Cay, and includes flights from Nassau to Staniel Cay, lunch and snacks.
Staniel Cay, Bahamas
Our trip took us to a new resort on the block, Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay. The Grand opening is March 2014, but we had a sneak peek thanks to our pal Angie Away. We had the chance to enjoy this quiet cay in the heart of the Exumas where we spent a lot of time in the water.
Johnny Depp, Oprah, and Faith Hill all have islands nearby, and Staniel Cay is just a few minutes by boat to Thunderball Grotto itself. Sean Connery and the gang hung out at the Yacht Club of Staniel Cay during filming and photos can be seen all around the bar. It’s an island we could have easily hung out at ourselves for a few more weeks. But alas, we only had a few days. Read more about the Bahamas at 18 Best Things to Do In The Bahamas
Thunderball Grotto doesn’t look like much from the outside. When you first see it you wonder what made the Thunderball producers decide to shoot here way back in the ’60s? Read more: Best Travel movies.
It looks small and unimpressive, but as our guide, Jake started explaining what we were about to do, I realized that this was going to be a very special experience.
Jake is a passionate young guy from the States who planned on sailing through the Caribbean and Central American fresh out of college. He got as far as the Bahamas and loved it so much, he never made it past Staniel Cay.
He opened up a dive shop with his dad and eventually bought it outright. Years later, he’s still going strong with his girlfriend and is the Only Dive shop on Staniel Cay. See everything you can do in the Exuma Cays at Things to do in the Exuma Cays – Dream Trip to the Bahamas
While waiting for the tide to go out, Jake explained to us that Thunderball Grotto is like Swiss cheese. It’s a hollow island with a bunch of holes going through it. There are several entrances where people can swim through the holes to get into the cavern inside.
Some of the tunnels are underwater and you have to swim through a short overhang and hold your breath for a few seconds until you come out the other end. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we dutifully followed Jake into the grotto.
A Beautiful Surprise
We weren’t prepared for what we were about to see. As we swam through the dark cave into the unknown, we were treated to a burst of light in a beautiful cavern.
The giant chamber in the middle of the island was impressive, but when we looked back towards the cave opening, we were treated to sunbeams lighting up hundreds of colourful fish. Everywhere we turned, rays of light danced in the crystal clear waters within the cave. We felt as if we were in our own life size aquarium.
What it’s like to snorkel in Thunderball Grotto
Thunderball Grotto isn’t one of those scary, dark caves that a person normally thinks of, this cave has light coming in from every direction. There are holes in the ceiling, holes in the sides and holes below the surface of the water.
The fish and coral are all lit by the sun for everyone to see. I was expecting to see nothing but dark rock and black water, but like everything in the Bahamas, the water was bright and clear making all the coral and fish easily visible.
I can’t imagine what it was like to film in these caves though. It would make for one difficult film shoot. But it’s a place that feels like it needs to be shown off to the world. We’ve done a lot of snorkelling in our lives, but this was by far the most impressive spot we’ve been to.
Is it Scary to Snorkel Thunderball Grotto
Once you are inside the grotto, the tiny holes don’t look near as scary as they are from the outside. There’s something about dipping under the water and not knowing where you will come out that makes people (including me) nervous.
But once you see that it’s just a short dip under the water, leading to a place of beauty it’s not bad at all. Soon everyone is diving under the rocks and through the swim through tunnels. The water is so warm and inviting that we never want to leave.
We are told however, that there are only specific times of the day when people can snorkel and dive in Thunderball Grotto.
At high tide it can be very dangerous for snorkelers as the current can rip you out to sea. Divers can dive at high tide as they’ll be able to swim underwater through all of the openings making for a more exciting experience.
So we swam around exploring the cave a bit before heading out for some more snorkelling time in the open water.
We’ve heard that the Bahamas are a great diving destination and now we believe it. The water is crystal clear, warm and inviting and there is plenty of marine life to enjoy.
Will we go back to the Bahamas?