Named one of world’s top cavern dive sites, this natural sinkhole is connected to the ocean by three submerged tunnels. The Grotto offers indelible variations of blue, making it a must-see destination for both visitors and locals alike. The Grotto is Saipan’s signature destination and as such, its environment needs to be protected and respected. Whatever you bring into the Grotto, you need to take out. Exercise caution as the strong currents can be extremely dangerous.
Maritime Heritage Trail – Battle of Saipan
Located within the protected waters of the Saipan lagoon, the majority of this dive site includes two Japanese shipwrecks, two Japanese aircrafts, two U.S. aircrafts, a U.S. landing vehicle, and two Japanese landing crafts, all found in the clear waters between Garapan, Tanapag Harbor, and Mañagaha Island. Further south in Chalan Kanoa Lagoon, there are three U.S. tanks. http://www.pacificmaritimeheritagetrail.com/
Eagle Ray City
Eagle Ray City is one of the most unique dives in Saipan. Rising out of the sand at a depth 30 feet is a rocky formation that on a good day will have up to 40 eagle rays swimming around it. The divers go down to the rocks and hold on as the eagle rays pass overhead. Many times the rays come close enough for a photograph.
This is a seamount on the western side of Saipan. When you enter the water, you will see a large school of red snappers in the distance, and as you go down towards the base, you will find hundreds of different animals. Eagle rays, eels, and surgeons are seen often. The highlight of this dive, however, is feeding the butterfly fish. As soon as food enters the water, the divers are surrounded by thousands of yellow and white butterfly fish. They will come in so close you can pet them. The depths on this dive range from 40 feet to 130 feet making it suitable for all skill levels.
Ice Cream is a seamount like Dimple, located on the west side of Saipan that is home to dozens of baby eel, several anemones, and their anemone fish. This is a shallow dive with the base of the seamount at 50 feet and the top at 18 feet. When there is current, there are usually eagle rays swimming along the top of the seamount. The name comes from the formation’s similarity to a scoop of ice cream.
Lau Lau Beach
Located in Lau Lau Bay, with an easy beach entry and one of the largest reefs on the island, this is one of the most popular sites. Lau Lau Beach has hundreds of small animals to see, such as an array of wrasses, butterfly fish, surgeons, and more. For the divers that like to go slow, you will also have frequent encounters with nudibranchs, stone fish, and octopus. This is an ideal dive site for beginners or divers interested in smaller, more colorful animals.
This is one of the best wall dives in The Marianas, with amazing visibility and fish live, located on the southern tip of the island. The top of the wall starts at 45 feet and goes down to over 130 feet. On the top portion, there are some great coral formations that are home to huge clams among other things. As one starts to descend on the wall, you will find magnificent fan coral and colorful animal life. There is always the possibility of running into some Napoleon Wrasses at the case of the wall or and octopus. This dive is great for every level of diver, but advanced divers will get more out of this dive.
Located near Naftan Point, Obyan Beach has over 150 feet of visibility on a good day. After exiting through the first reef, there’s a beautiful patch reef with hundreds of small fish and interesting animals all around. The second reef starts at about 50 feet where you may find barracudas, sharks, and possibly eel. This dive site is ideal for all skill levels, especially people interested in photography.
The Chinsen is a large Japanese freighter that sits at a shallow depth in the lagoon. The ship has been in the water for over 50 years, allowing for some significant coral growth as well as becoming a home to thousands of fish. There are monstrous red snappers as well as big eye emperors patrolling the wreck while huge schools of goat fish sit on top. There is also a resident white tip shark that rests underneath the wreck. The history of this shipwreck is very interesting, so be sure to ask your guide about it.
This dive site is very close to Banzai. This site is only accessible during a brief time of the year. When the sun shines through a hole in the top of the cavern, it’s like a spotlight shining on a stage. There is always the possibility of seeing large fish and animals such as turtles and sharks.
A fantastic dive that can be done from the beach or a boat. Wing Beach is located on the northwest part of the island. There are some great geographical features here, such as large crevasses and breathtaking drop-offs. This site is well known for shark encounters and Spanish Dancers at night. A drift dive from a boat is the best way to do this dive.
Shoan Maru Wreck Dive
This 407 foot Imperial Japanese Navy freighter went down on February 2, 1944, during the WWII Battle for Saipan while carrying conscripted Korean soldiers. Lying at about 35 feet deep on the sandy floor of the Saipan lagoon, part of the Shoan Maru breaks the surface. This shallow depth makes this a perfect dive for novice wreck divers.
The wreck is home to a dazzling assortment of tropical fish. Octopus, white tip sharks, schools of yellowtail and rabbitfish, and solitary large jacks and snappers are also common sights around the wreck.
Two Coral Head
The name of the site comes from the two coral formations sitting next to each other. The boat moors between the two and divers are free to explore. The fish life here is fantastic with varieties of parrot fish, grouper, damsel fish, and more. With great visibility, Two Coral Head is a photographer’s dream.
From a depth of 15-60 feet you will find a variety of coral formations and over 50 different species of colorful tropical fish. Octopus, nudibranchs, sharks, and turtles can also be found on this boat dive. This is a protected area, so the collecting of shells or artifacts and the taking of any sea life is prohibited.
This is a relic boat dive with many artifacts from World War II, including planes, tanks, ammunition, and jeeps. It is also a turtle feeding ground, so the chances of running into a turtle are very high. This dive site has some shallow areas, as well as deeper areas near the wall, making it perfect for all skill levels.
This is a very good wall dive from a boat that has great coral formations and is abundant with smaller animals and fish. The wall drops off to more than 200 feet and has impeccable visibility on Tinian. When the divers are along the side of the wall, it’s very easy to look down in the crystal clear water and get a feeling of flying.
The Grotto is the most popular cavern dive in Tinian. With three main entry points into the cavern, most divers enter from the hole at the top, leading to a beautiful room inside. After exploring inside the cavern, exit through another hole, and move along the wall while looking for beautiful shrimp and crabs within the coral formations on the Grotto. At the end of the dive, look back towards the cavern to see all of the bubbles escaping from the inside.
Dive Senhanon Cave / Rota Hole
The most popular dive site in Rota, this is an advanced dive that is done from a boat. The diver enters the cavern from the ocean at about 40 feet. Once inside, there are many schools of fish and lobster. The highpoint of the dive is when the light shines through the opening in top of the cavern creating the “Jesus Experience.”
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