Saturday, February 9, 2008

Scuba Diving Tinian - Tinian Dive Sites

Thinking about diving our neighbor to the South? Here's a brief look at what this quiet, friendly island has to offer underwater! Check back soon for a full discussion about Tinian SCUBA diving, it's about to get that much better! I'll also ad some pictures and video soon too!

Tinian Dive Sites

Two Corals
Two Corals is a short boat ride from Tinian Harbor. This shallow pinnacle on Tinian’s west coast has great visibility and is a photographer’s dream. Crystal clear blue water and white sandy outlines accent the beauty and pristine conditions of the coral at Two Corals. Rising from a maximum of 70 feet, divers can easily swim a figure 8 formation around two small underwater mountains or adventure away from the mooring to discover an array of hard corals and sandy channels. Be prepared to go slow and stay awhile to enjoy abundant fish life of all sizes and colors. It’s not uncommon to see octopi and moray eels cruising in broad daylight while curious turtles check you out. Two Corals is a full 45-minute ride from Saipan.

Fleming Point

Fleming Point is a fantastic wall dive with dramatic drop offs and currents that can be like gentle breezes or raging winds. This boat dive on Tinian’s western shore boasts a high probability of turtle sightings along the top ridge, which curves from the cliffs at the surface down to about 45 feet before taking a 90-degree turn and heading straight to the abyss below. Sea whips and large Gregorian coral fans line the wall and brace themselves against the current while schools of Fusiliers and triggerfish dart about. The amazing visibility of an early morning dive will offer silhouettes from the rising sun while an afternoon dive will find the wall bathed in sunlight making it well worth doing more than once. In fact, you’ll probably need a few days just to get the most out of the point as Fleming can also be distinctly different whether you choose to go north or south from the mooring.

The Tinian Grotto
Tinian’s answer to Saipan’s Grotto, the Tinian Grotto is a popular cavern dive. It’s a bit smaller than its Saipan counterpart, but well worth exploring. Located midway along Tinian’s west coast this boat dive is popular with both Saipan and Tinian operators. Entering the water you can often see rising bubbles escaping through the coral from the inside of the cavern long after divers have left. Most divers enter through the top hole at about 35 feet and explore the inside looking for lionfish, nudibranchs, and schools of soldierfish. Bring a light with you to really bring out the color and discover those creatures that might be a little more shy. Exiting through one of two large holes divers are able to explore the top of the reef under the watchful eye of many types of hawkfish and Damsels. As with most Tinian dives, you’ll need to do the Grotto more than once here as another wall dive awaits those who come back and explore a little further (and deeper) out from the shore.

Dump Coke North
Often mislabeled as Dump Cove, Dump Coke North gets its name from the many Coco-cola bottles thrown from the cliffs during WWII. But bottles aren’t the only thing that made their way over the towering limestone walls. Littered with WWII artifacts including tanks, planes, jeeps and ammunition, this site which served as a trash can during and after the war, is now an intriguing glimpse into a bygone era. The undersea critters—octopi, grouper and the ubiquitous Green sea turtles—seem to love the artificial reefs.
WARNING: Care must be taken not to handle ammunitions or touch the white substance (phosphorus) which coats the rocks. Many of the shells are still “live” and can explode even after all these years, while the phosphorus will instantly burst into flames once it mixes with oxygen on the surface. Rising to the surface at the end of the dive may find it burning anything it is in contact with including skin. All the more reason to use good buoyancy and take only pictures to get the most out of this unique spot.

Tatzumi Reef

Located on the eastern side of Tinian, this interesting site is dependent on wind and sea conditions for the journey to explore its unique coral formations. Not often visited, this secret spot will treat lucky divers to pillars of hard corals that often resemble the goal posts on a football field. It’s not hard to imagine kicking a field goal through the uprights. Many crevices and small caves line the large plateau reef, which has an average depth of 60 to 90 feet. Clouds of parrotfish munch on the corals, while blue fusiliers gather in large schools and play in the surge and swirling currents. Keep an eye open for sleeping white tips and cruising grey reef sharks.

Goat Island / Aguijan

Located a short boat ride from Tinian harbor, or a full 90-minute ride from Saipan, this uninhabited island is rugged frontier diving at its best. Pristine conditions await those who come here as few operators venture this way. The untouched terrain, cruising sharks, turtles and Napoleon wrasse don’t get the attention they deserve. Is it worth the ride or a few days on Tinian to experience the Marianas Dive’s best-kept secret? Absolutely!

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