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The ShoreDiving Reviews of
 Mark James

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Review Date       AVG       ShoreDiving Site
02/27/2008        3.29      The Grotto, Saipan Micronesia, Pacific
The Grotto is a spectacular dive. Thousands of years ago it was an underwater cave but then part of the roof caved in and made it accessible from shore. It sits on the northern end of Saipan along a very rugged coastline with high cliffs. Stairs have been installed to go down and access the water. The Grotto itself goes down to about 70ft at the bottom, and when you jump in you will see a large area with 3 blue holes that go to the outside wall. You will also see a rope that is anchored on another boulder at about 20ft for people to do a safety stop. As long as you have a flashlight, you could spend an entire dive inside the Grotto looking at various fish and Nudies as well as checking out the resident sharks that call the Grotto home. There are also some swim-throughs to explore as well. To exit the Grotto you just need to go out one of the 3 openings to the wall outside. This can be done at anywhere between 20 to 70 feet depending on which hole you choose. To venture outside you must know your way around or have a guide. As soon as you exit, if you turn around you will have a hard time finding the entrance again as boulders hide it.
The Left Hole: The left hole is called Big Blue and is the largest of the 3. When you go out you will be on a wall that goes straight up to the waves pounding the cliff line, and if you look down you will see the wall goes down and then starts to taper off somewhere between 130-150ft. If you keep going with the wall to your left you will come to the Bat Cave after awhile. The Bat Cave has a very large opening and is a great place to explore with large sea fans and many fish as well as some Eels.
The Middle Hole: The middle hole is the deepest and takes you out to an area with lots of fish and a steep, sloping drop-off. If you go straight out and down to about 90ft you will find a nice swim-through that takes you through a lot of sea fans where you come out at about 110ft. This is the most common area to see Turtles at the Grotto as well as Napoleon Wrasses and other large fish.
The Right Hole: This hole is not used as often because there is more current on this side of the Grotto. When you go out you will find a mooring line on a large boulder, and if you look to the right you will see another large boulder. If you swim to this boulder you will see yet another couple of large boulders at about 100ft. In this area you will almost always see Barracuda as well as other large fish. The deeper you go the more Sea Fans and life you will see on the wall, but care is needed to insure you get back in with plenty of air.
The Exit: The exit can be a bit tricky, as you will be getting out on a flat boulder (Penguin Rock) that is right about water level. Once out you can cross back over to shore and then take your time going back up the 100+ steps to the parking lot.
I know it sounds tough but believe me it is worth it and you will definitely put it down as one of the best dives you've ever done!
10/08/2005        4.78      Sund Rock Washington, USA West
Sund rock is the best dive in Puget sound. It is on hood canal and there is little to no current so you do not have to worry about tide charts. The $15 fee is for the day and I've done 4 dives in a day there so it is not too much money. From the boat ramp-like entry point you can either go left or right. To the left you will find the North wall. It has lots of fish on the top of the wall 15'-25' and nice drop down to 100' or so to some boulders where you can find an octo or wolfeel. Another dive to the right is a boat. If you look north from the beach you will see Hoodsport and Dive, between there and you is a buoy that marks the boat. You can either do a surface swim or just go under and head strait north to find it. It is an old fishing vessel and will have lots of fish on and around it. Left from the beach is the south wall. It is by far the best dive in Washington for Wolfeels and Octo's. Swim at about 25' along the shore from the entry and you will come to a big smooth rock. This is where the fun begins. You will find lots of boulders in the 20' to 50' range and they will be home to many wolf Eels and Octo's. Look for a pile of broken crab shells next to a hole under a rock and you have most likely found a den. Bring your flashlight so you can find these mostly nocturnal critters at home in bed. On any given dive I can always find 4 or 5 Wolfies and at least 1 or 2 Octo's. There are lots of fish and a very large Ling Cod along with lots of plant life. The daily fee is well worth it and tell Mikey hi for me.
10/06/2005        3.53      Wing beach, Saipan Micronesia, Pacific
Wing beach is a great dive. The shore entry can be a bit tricky when the rip is strong. Dive shops will install a rope to pull you back through the rip at the end of the dive. Sometimes the rope breaks and I don't recommend the site without it. The best time to dive wing is April to June but can be done earlier or later depending on weather and conditions.
10/06/2005        3.38      Lau Lau Beach, Saipan Micronesia, Pacific
Lau Lau is a very easy dive. There are 3 different entry points from the parking lot. At all 3 you walk our over a coral shelf to a cut that will drop to 15 feet or so. They all have a rope to use/follow through channels out to the main dive area. The site offers a gradual slope down. The center entry brings you to a old pipe in the sand that can be followed. There is a coral finger along side it with lots of swim-throughs. The far left rope takes you over the top of the coral where turtles and large puffers are common. This a popular site and, though you will see other divers, they are easy to avoid underwater. The government provides a security guard to monitor the parking lot 7 days a week.
10/06/2005        3.81      Obyan Beach, Saipan Micronesia, Pacific
Obyan "Ob-john" is a wonderful site with a lot of life and great vis. It is best done at high tide for an easy entry and exit. Like most Saipan shore dives there is a rope to help when the rip is strong. The best diving is to the left after you reach the end of the rope. It goes over lots of fingers and sand channels. If you follow the sand away farther from shore you will find lots of Garden Eels. Octo's are very common.

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