A Beginner’s Guide to Spearfishing in Eleuthera
It is time to try out spearfishing if you have not done so already! It may seem daunting at first because there is gear to purchase and locations to consider. However, the following guide can make this process simple for any beginner who wants to give this a try.
For our spearfishing adventure, we chose the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas for its warm crystal clear water, pink sand, private beaches, and coral reefs located a few feet from shore.
The eastern portion of Eleuthera is on the Atlantic Ocean while the western side is on the Caribbean. This allows visitors to choose between the shallow water of the Caribbean and the deeper water of the Atlantic. One side is not better than the other, however, the latter seems to showcase bigger fish.
Important things to bring to Eleuthera.
Buy snorkel gear ahead of time.
We purchased our snorkel gear from Amazon.com. We chose Phantom Aquatics Speed Sport Mask Fin Snorkel Set with Mesh Bag for its price point and high ratings. As well, we purchased Tilos Neoprene Fin Socks to protect our feet from rubbing since we planned on being in flippers for many hours each day.
You may want to purchase Jaws Quick Spit Antifog Spray for your mask, as well, so that you do not have to worry about clearing your mask often.
On water shoes.
You do not have to purchase water shoes to spearfish, however, if you plan on snorkeling through very shallow waters, water shoes may be better than wearing fins as the motion of the fins will mix the sand and water. I purchased a pair of Keen Whisper sandals and they worked really well, especially on the rugged rocky terrain along the shore As well, my husband got a pair of Speedo Surfwalker Pro 2 water shoes and said he really enjoyed them both in and out of the water!
Purchase “The Beach Book: Eleuthera, Bahamas Edition”
There are 135 beaches on Eleuthera and this book gives beach ratings and descriptions. We chose several of our beach locations this way and found it to be very helpful. As well, we chose beach locations via word-of-mouth from locals and fellow visitors. Both methods worked well.
Purchase a long sleeved rash guard.
A rash guard can protect you against the harsh sun and jellyfish. Rash guards can be equivalent to SPF 50+ sunscreen! We did not see many jellyfish while snorkeling, however, on the day I did not wear my rash guard, I ran into a few jellyfish and wished I had chosen to wear it. My husband purchased two, one made by O’Neill and one from Quiksilver.
Bring waterproof (not water resistant) sunblock.
This might seem obvious, but it is worth a mention because sunburn can ruin any vacation. We purchased Neutrogena’s Fresh Cooling Body Mist Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 70 and Sport Face Oil-Free Lotion Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 70+. Both worked great. Even after being in the water for 5 straight hours and not reapplying, we were protected. And afterward, lather up with a good moisturizer. Just – trust – me! I would not write about it if it was not important.
Choosing a spear.
There are many types of spears and, quite frankly, if you are looking for advanced spearfishing gear, this is not the guide for you. However, the gear discussed in this guide is great for the novice spearfisher-person. In the Bahamas, the only legal method of spearfishing is free diving with a Hawaiian Sling. You can certainly buy a sling ahead of time, but it’s probably easiest just to buy a spear once you’re in Eleuthera.
You can rent or purchase equipment at the Clearwater Dive Shop in Governor’s Harbour. Please note: most stores close around 3:00 PM on the island, and are almost certainly closed on Sundays, so be sure to go at an appropriate time.
How to Spearfish Using a Hawaiian Sling.
Step 1: Put the spear together. Place the metal spear into the hole of the handle. Then pull the rubber back and set it into the end piece. Then draw back the rubber piece (which will cause the metal front to slide back through the handle), then release! It takes some strength to pull the sling back, so fair warning, it is not easy.
Step 2: Practice in shallow water. Helpful hint: AIM AT SAND!
Step 3: Practice aiming at fish! Simple enough.
If the spear is strong enough to go through a fish, it can injure a person, as well. ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings. Spears can go further than you think. Do not spearfish anywhere near other swimmers.
Do not shoot at fish located deeper than you are willing to retrieve your spear. If you cannot swim down 20 feet, do not shoot fish in water that deep.
Spearfishing is not for the weak swimmer or faint hearted. On the Atlantic side, the current was strong and, on some days, the waves battered the shore making it difficult to enter. Even on calm days, we found ourselves in the water for several hours at a time. And, there were several times where we found ourselves further off shore than realized. It is easy to do.
If you enter the water with your fins on, walk backward into the water. Otherwise, you may fall and injure yourself.
**These warnings are not meant to be a comprehensive list of warnings, they are simply things we noticed personally when spearfishing for the first time.
What is the best time of day to spearfish?
Morning! There are more schools of fish roaming around in the morning. We ventured out right after sunrise as early as 6:30 AM. The fish seemed to taper off around 11 AM. You might also see some interesting animals that are purely for visual enjoyment!
Know your fish – some fish cannot be eaten!
Know your fish! There are fish you cannot eat and the kinds you can are often too fast to spear for a beginner, at least that is what the locals say. We are not experts on the types of fish you can and cannot eat, so we suggest doing research ahead of time.
Spots to Checkout
We found the following locations to be excellent for spearfishing (and snorkeling in general):
Lighthouse Beach – You will need a solid vehicle to venture down the dirt road that leads to this beach. However, the drive is worth it. There are a plentitude of reefs in varying water depths and the water is crystal clear. (The sea turtle picture above was taken here.)
Gaulding Cay – This tranquil beach houses an island that is in shallow water. We saw a variety of marine life here, including several stingrays.
Here are a few pictures from our spearfishing adventures in Eleuthera: