Saipan has some of the best scuba diving in the world due to the clarity of the water and the diversity of sea life. The Grotto, a collapsed underwater cave, is perhaps the most famous dive spot in Saipan, but there are dive sites for divers of all skill levels around the island. There are also several dive shops and tour guides that can train and certify you if you are just beginning.
Diversity of Sea Life
When diving in Saipan, you can expect to encounter an amazing diversity of sea life. It is not uncommon to see Sea Turtles, Eagle Rays, White and Black Tip Reef Sharks, Parrot Fish, Lion Fish, Clown Fish, Moray Eels, Octopus, Fan Corals and Coral Heads.
Saipan Dive Map
DESCRIPTIONS OF POPULAR DIVE SITES
While there are dozens of frequented dive sites in Saipan, and even more that are simply discovered on a daily basis, the following descriptions are of some of Saipan’s most popular dive sites.
The Grotto is Saipan’s premier dive spot, and is considered one of the best cavern dives in the world. Divers first descend a long, steep staircase into a huge sinkhole, and enter the pool at the bottom. You can begin by exploring the central cavern, then working your way towards one of three exit holes to open ocean. Once outside, there are beautiful walls, swim-throughs, and caves to explore. You can expect to encounter Turtles and Clown Triggerfish, and White Tip Sharks.
Ice Cream is a boat dive on the Western side of Saipan. It is a seamount, which is home to several octopus and eels. You can also expect to see Eagle Rays come to visit while you are exploring. The best way to view an Eagle Ray is not to follow it, but rather to wait and let it come to you. It’s possible to have Eagle Rays floating just inches above you as they come to check you out.
Lau Lau is an excellent dive for both beginners and experts because of its easy beach entry, and the plethora of fish that feed off of the reef, which is one of the largest in Saipan. If you want to stay in the shallower water, you can dive for about an hour and observe many of the smaller, colorful fish. Going deeper, you can also expect to encounter wrasses, butterfly fish, and surgeons. Don’t be surprised to find a an Octopus or a Scorpionfish if you look carefully.
Naftan Point is a boat dive located on the Southern side of Saipan. It is one of the best wall dives in Saipan because of its excellent visibility and the diversity of sea creatures. The top of the wall starts at 45 feet and goes down to over 130 feet. On the top of the wall, there are tons of coral formations and huge Clams. As you descend the wall, you will find fan coral and bright colored reef fish. As you peer off the wall, there is always the possibility of running into the larger fish like Napolean Wrasses, Groupers, and Sharks.
Banzai is another boat dive on the North side of Saipan. There is only a small window of weather all year that allows you to safely dive at Banzai Cliff, but it is a worthwhile experience of you time it right. The coral in this area is truly unique, but the real treat is the chance to see large fish like Sharks, Rays, Tuna, and Napoleon Wrasses.
Wing Beach is a great boat or beach dive located on the Northwest side of Saipan. The beach is also a Turtle nesting site, so it is not uncommon to see Turtles in this area. Wing Beach has some interesting topography to follow as you dive, such as large crevasses and ominous drop-offs. This site is well known for Shark encounters, Giant Moray Eels, and Spanish Dancers. As a Beach dive, divers should be careful of the strong currents which can make the entry and exit extremely difficult.
Obyan Beach is located on the Southern side of Saipan, near Naftan Point. Divers can enter either by boat or from the beach. Obyan is an ideal location for divers of all skill levels as the currents are not too strong, the visibility is exceptional, and there is a lot to see below the surface. Once you descend through the first reef, you will find hundreds of small colorful reef fish, corals and other sea creatures. At the second reef, which starts at about 50 feet, you can expect to encounter larger fish like Barracuda, Sharks, and Garden Eels. Obyan Beach also makes a great spot for a post-dive picnic and bonfire.
The H8K Emily is a wreck dive from World War II, laying only 30 feet below the water. Often mistaken for a B-29 Bomber, the H8K Emily is actually an Imperial Japanese Navy H8K or Type 2 Large Flying Boat. The Allied reporting name for this plane was “Emily.” When exploring the wreck, you can still see the 7.7 mm machine gun sticking out of the nose. You will also find a chair and control panel resting nearby. The 4 large props are still intact, as is most of the wing. You can expect to encounter Jewel Damselfish, White Tip Sharks, and much more.
Links to Saipan Dive Shops and Tour Guides
Saipan Diving Video
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