When winter hits, many people in the northern latitudes like to escape to warmer climates. Among them are the islands of the Caribbean, including the Bahamas. While the Bahamas is somewhat colder than during the summer, as it is still above the equator, the water remains relatively warm even during February. However, some people may find it slightly chilly for their tastes and should enter the water only in a wet suit.
According to the National Oceanographic Data Center, the optimal water temperature for swimming in the ocean is generally 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature range that most people are used to swimming in. Generally, humans prefer to swim in water that is slightly below their body temperature, which is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as this cools their body. However, if the water is too cold, the body struggles to heat itself, and you can get chills.
The temperature in January and February in the waters around the Bahamas is approximately 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, while the temperature in the air is usually between 70 and 80 degrees. This is well within the range at which people are comfortable swimming. However, for maximum comfort and to lessen your adjustment to cold water, you may wish to purchase a wetsuit.
If you're swimming in water between 72 and 77 degrees, you generally won't not need a wetsuit, unless the weather is not warm or you are particularly sensitive to the cold. However, if the water falls below that, then invest in either a spring suit or a 3/2 full suit -- a wetsuit that is 3 millimeters thick in the torso and 2 millimeters thick in the limbs.
Just to get a sense of how it feels to swim in 72-degree water, the temperature at the average U.S. indoor multi-use pool hovers between 84 and 86 degrees. Highly competitive swimming teams generally practice and compete in water that is between 78 and 80 degrees. Older people, who often have poorer circulation, tend to like warmer water, particularly water that is in the 80s.