The Devil’s Backbone is a reef that screams danger when you see it; yet offers the most serene snorkeling in the Bahamas. Located across the northern end of Eleuthera, the reef has caused marine havoc for centuries. But if you know where to go, the reef itself is one of the most beautiful places in the Bahamas for a quick swim and some tropical colorful corals to view.
It is notorious for its sharp rocks creating havor for sailors past and centuries of shipwrecks. Located off Harbour Island in the Bahamas; it is about 1.4 miles northeast of Spanish Wells. It has torn the bottom out of more boats’ hulls than many comparable reefs; leaving their ghostly presence among the sharp corals. Today it is known as a snorkeler’s paradise and offers much to see.
A boater must be cautious and follow the GPS as well as marking around the reef. Getting too close to the rocks can spell disaster. The depth of the reef ranges from a shallow 5-35 feet in depth; perfect scuba diving and snorkeling. It also makes it a perfect place to damage your boat! Be cautious when approaching the reef and take great care to oversee and protect your guests while swimming.
While swimming at the Devil’s Backbone, you can encounter snapper, grunts, parrot fish, angelfish, stingrays and moray eels among the elk horn, star and brain coral formations.From grouper to yellowtail, lobsters and sea urchins, sharks and stingrays; every ocean creature resides on the reef off Harbour island in the Bahamas.
Enjoy a sense of history with sunken shipwrecks entwined with a true appreciation of the marine world; as tropical fish swim around your fins.
Here are a few of the remnant ship wrecks you will encounter during your dive:
- The William – Captained by William Sayles, while leading the Eleutheran Adventurers from Bermuda, it wrecked during rough seas in October 1648, losing most of its supplies and one of the colonists aboard.
- USS Boston – American 18-gun sloop warship weighed 700 tons and was 127 feet long; its shipwrecked on the north side reef in November 1846.
- The Train Wreck – a barge carrying a train and several rail cars struck a reef during a violent storm in 1865. It sank with the train still on board. The wreck lies in 15 to 25 feet of water.
- The Cienfuegos – this steam-powered American passenger ship was 292 feet long and weighed 2,332 tons. On February 5th, 1895, it ran aground during a strong northwest wind. The wreck lies in 10 to 35 feet of water.
Don’t get too close to the reef! Be vigilant when anchoring off the Devil’s Back and take caution when nearing the corals.