Marshall Islands – Dive sites

There are over 1000 species of fish plus 250 species of soft and hard corals along with spectacular visibility. Wrecks, coral pinnacles, breathtaking drop offs and the channels teaming with large pelagics will likely make the Marshall Islands the next World Heritage site.

Marshall Islands #3 (1)

 

THE DIVE SITES NEAR MAJURO

The Bridge: a favorite for many divers in Majuro. Plate coral splattered with clusters of Black Coral and Tridacna clams embedded in the coral base, drops down a steep wall that exceeds 130 feet.  Whitetip and Silvertip sharks cruise the area and Napoleon wrasse hover in the shallow areas. Expect to see schools of Red Snapper and brightly colored Angel Fish as well as Helfrecht’s Dartfish.

Aneko Island:  has both shallow and deep water coral heads that are incredibly large. From 12-90 feet, you will find anemone, cleaner shrimp, resting turtles and a deep water coral garden.

Kalalen Pass:  is a favorite location for drift dives. Diving depths run from 30-130 feet at the Pass and steep coral walls drop into the crystal clear water.  Pelagic species cruise the currents in search of food and you can expect to see sea turtles, rays, several species of sharks and sea turtles on a typical day. Silvertip sharks over 8 feet in length have been seen at this location.

Kalalen Island: located adjacent to the Pass, has a lagoon side reef that boasts both hard and soft corals and divers exploring the coral will be thrilled as they discover butterfly fish, triggerfish and the elusive octopus hiding in the coral gardens.

Second Island: a gradual slope down the coral head drops to a sandy bottom at around 120 feet.  Whitetip sharks share this area with shrimp gobys and Grass eels are commonly sighted.

North Shore outer reef on the ocean side of Kalalen Island:  is a pristine gradual slope populated by thousands of table corals, anemone, and tens of thousands of tropical reef fish. Schools of fusiliers rain down from the surface as you glide toward the transition from slope to near vertical wall. Sharks, rays, dogtooth tuna, and turtles are also seen here regularly.

Fourth Island: offers a popular site for easy second dives as well as for beginning divers because of the extremely calm conditions usually found in this area.  Bring your camera because in addition to schools of Kiribati Red Snapper and thousands of tropical reef fish, you can see 3 different species of anemone and anemone fish including the Marshallese Three Striped Clownfish.

The Aquarium:  Incoming tides may offer one of the most exciting dives of your trip. Ranging from 60-130+ feet this natural “horse shoe” shaped feature creates an area where tidal flow is compressed, concentrating the flow of rich, open ocean sea water as it enters Majuro Lagoon.  This is the place to see Horse Eye Jacks, Black & White and Red snapper, Barracuda, and all manner of reef fish numbering in the MANY tens of thousands. On the sandy ocean floor, you will see sleeping reef sharks and Sting-rays, Gray reef, White-tip, and Black-tip sharks. Schools of Rainbow Runner, Napoleon Wrasse, and huge schools of fusiliers are also common here.

Bokolap Island: offers an exciting experience on a dive site ranging from 12-120 feet in depth. Beautiful coral heads, 4 species of anemone, clownfish, Harlequin shrimp, 3 species of lionfish, colorful nudibranchs and more fish than you can imagine are here for the viewing. A WWII U.S. torpedo plane sits at 115 feet at this location. A Grumman Avenger is also located in this area at 120 ft. depth. Downed by anti aircraft fire, this Avenger crash-landed on the ocean-side of Bokolap Island, washed over the reef, and sunk inside the lagoon where it rests today. The tail section lies up the rubble slope and is home to a family of three striped Marshallese clown-fish.

The Riviera:  If you are looking for extreme visibility, in excess of 140 feet, you will hope for the mild weather conditions that will allow you to dive. This northern reef location runs across nearly two miles of untouched coral reef. A drift along the reef will reveal sharks sleeping on the bottom – within your visibility but over the recreational diving limits. This area drops to over 130 feet and is populated by schools of huge red snapper, Mantas and Spotted Eagle Rays and coral reef in every color imaginable.

Shark Street: this is a deep reef on the northeast outer reef of Majuro Lagoon. Divers have reported sightings of 25 or more sharks on a single dive. Thick forests of black coral and schools of Napolean Wrasse make this a thrill for anyone.

Shore Dives:  are popular with local divers and good shore diving sites can be found on the southern reef. Weather conditions and local knowledge are important when attempting shore diving which may require entry through breaking waves and a possibility of strong currents.  The south shore wall ranges from 20 to over 130 feet in depth and you will be rewarded with schools of Dogtooth Tuna and Grey Reef Sharks.  Gorgonian Sea Fans ride the current on the vertical walls and drop-offs of these area – commonly referred to as Mile 14, Mile 15 and Mile 17.

Wreck Diving: gives you the best of everything. Explorers enjoy the mystery of the wrecks and the incredible variety of marine life that can be found in every nook and cranny of a sunken structure. Photographers are thrilled by the shafts of light that penetrate through holes and open decks into the dark interiors. In a nation with so much WWII history and a heritage of water transportation as a way of life, you can expect to find a multitude of underwater structures including ships and airplanes – some intentionally sunk and functioning as artificial reefs, others sometimes referred to as “natural wrecks”.

The Kabilok:  A sunken freighter, once sailed between the outer islands and Majuro, hauling copra and supplies. She lies on her side on an 80′ sandy bottom in Majuro Lagoon. A favorite for night dives and underwater photographers, the Kabilok offers safe, interesting penetration into the open cargo hold and is home to colorful sponges, whip coral, and tropical fish of many species. On night dives, beautiful batfish and puffers take refuge in and around the wreck.

Ejit Island (The Parking Lot): at 10-120 feet is the location of a U.S. military dumpsite. A small coral pinnacle marks the spot where Jeeps, Trucks, a Navy Tug boat, and a landing craft were sunk at the end of WWII. The relics, now artificial reefs, are home to colorful sponges, corals, and tropical fish of many species. This area is a favorite for photography and exploration.

The Grumman “Duck”: just a few miles from the Yokwe Divers dock sits inverted on the bottom. It seems to have crashed on approach to Majuro’s WWII carrier re-supply airfield, which was adjacent to this site. Used primarily for search & rescue and reconnaissance, there are said to be fewer than 10 surviving Ducks left in the world. This aircraft is also home to hundreds of fish, sponges, and corals. The “Duck” is in excellent condition and steeped in the history of this area of operation during WWII.

BIKINI ATOLL NUCLEAR TEST FLEET

 

Marshall Islands #4 (1)

 

USS Saratoga CV-3:  Commissioned in 1927, an American aircraft carrier 880 feet in length and weighs 39,000 tons, it rests in Bikini’s lagoon at a depth of 190 feet. Her bridge is easily accessible at 40 feet, her deck at 90 feet, and the hanger for the Helldivers at 125 feet. These Helldivers and bombs are still on display complete with all dials and controls. She was reported sunk by the Japanese seven times during World War II.  Eight hours after the waves created by the atomic blast rolled over her, the Saratoga sink slowly beneath Bikini’s lagoon.

HIJMS Nagato:  The Japanese Flagship to the Japanese Navy, she was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s floating fortress during Japan’s World War II attack on Pearl Harbor. The 32,720 ton battleship is at rest upside down in 170 feet of water; her bridge is accessible at 150 feet, the hull and monstrous props at 110 feet. She is upside down in the water and an incredible dive with her four massive screws appearing like an underwater Stonehenge. 708 feet long.

USS Arkansas BB-33:  A 29,000 ton American battleship that survived two world wars. The Arkansas, at rest almost completely upside down in Bikini’s lagoon in 170 feet of water, 562 feet long.

USS Carlisle AA-69:  A merchant craft named after a county in Kentucky.  She sits upright on the bottom and is guarded by a magnificent school of skip jacks; and there is almost always a shark siting on this ship. The blast split her open so she makes for a sensational penetration dive. 426 feet long.

USS Lamson DD-367:  The American destroyer Lamson received five battle stars for service during World War II. She was used to search for Amelia Earhart in 1937 in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. Her hull provides a great example of the power of a nuclear explosion as it is horribly twisted and damaged. She is a Bikini divemaster favorite. 341 feet long.

USS Apogon SS-308:  An American submarine. She made eight war patrols sinking three Japanese vessels totaling 7,575 tons.. She now appears perfectly upright as if ready to drive away on the bottom of Bikini’s lagoon. 312 feet long.

USS Anderson DD-411:  An American destroyer is now at rest on her side in Bikini’s lagoon. 348 feet long.

USS Pilotfish SS-386:  An American submarine, she made five war patrols during WWII. ” She is on her side and half-buried in the sand. 312 feet long.

HIJMS Sakawa:  532 feet long as she rests in Bikini’s lagoon in an upright position.

Due to the nature of the environment at Bikini Atoll the diving conditions are considered to be very advanced. Dive Adventures recommend that only divers with the appropriate training and skill levels and who are confident and experienced divers even consider going to Bikini. Depending on the needs of each group, there is a minimum of two deep dives per day. If time and nitrogen levels permit there could be diving later in the day on reefs at shallower depths.

This area has been untouched for 40 years and has very prolific sea life including sharks, tuna, marlin, turtles and much more.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories have carried out extensive research and monitoring of Bikini Atoll. Their reports state that in general the environment poses no radiological danger.

DIVING IN RONGELAP

Our reefs and waters, untouched for the last 20 years, are an adventure into new discovery. Few divers have had the opportunity to experience the crystal depths of the ocean in this part of the world.

The lagoon reaches 200 feet at its deepest points and much of it averages 140 feet. The best spots for plenty of reef scenery are around 80 feet.

Shallow reefs connect all of the islands in the lagoon. The water deepens on the ocean side of the reef to thousands of feet. The ocean locations vary from gentle slopes to sheer walls dropping into depths of 2000 meters. The area near the main island features a spectacular “Blue Hole” where you can drop to 60 feet and exit out to a sheer ocean wall. Recent visitors are having frequent encounters with Manta Rays who`s wing spans exceed 15 feet!

The waters around Rongelap & Ailinginae Atolls are pristine territory for diving and fishing the Marshall Islands. With both lagoon and ocean locations the diving experience is like no other place in the world. Walk off the beach on the main island of Rongelap to a wealth of shallow reefs teeming with sea life.
Lush coral gardens bursting in rainbow hues populate our miles of reefs. Fishes of the Pacific are the most colorful in the world.  Giant Tridacna clams have become increasingly rare in Pacific waters but are a common sight on the reef at Rongelap Atoll.

 

More information on Marshall Islands

 

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