San Salvador is thought by many to be the first island in the New World to feel the booted foot of Columbus on its beaches. However, in diving circles, San Salvador’s fame comes from the spectacular wall diving found just off its shores. Dramatic vertical walls stretch along the west coast, beginning in as little 30 feet and plummeting more than a mile into the abyss.

Along the south shore, from the east corner to French Bay on the west, big fish are the rule. Among the most exciting for divers to encounter are the skittish hammerhead sharks. Great Hammerheads, ranging from 12 to 15 feet, can be sighted year-round. The smaller Scalloped Hammerheads are often found in schools ranging from three to several dozen animals and are most often seen in late summer and early autumn.

Another reputable species divers are likely to encounter is the Nassau Grouper. Although their name might suggest otherwise, these fish are the unofficial emissaries of San Salavador. Fish feeding has been actively discouraged for 20 years, but the groupers don’t seem convinced. Photographers often have more trouble keeping their subjects at a reasonable distance than trying to attract them in the first place.

With only 500 residents, San Salvador is definitely out-island in flavor. There are ruins of 18th century plantations, rare remnants of Lucayan Indian culture, sea caves along the shore and more. The first place of New World exploration, San Salvador still has much to offer the adventurous at heart.