The Grotto, Saipan

The Grotto, Saipan


Site Review by
 Mark James
Date: 02/27/2008


Site Condition
(1=worst, 5=best)

Name:  Mark James Entry:    3.00
Email:   Click Here Bottom:    3.00
City:   Papago Reef:    4.00
State:   Saipan, Cnmi Animal:    3.00
Country:   Commonwealth Of The Nothern Mariana Islands Plant:    2.00
Diving:   10 years Facilities:    3.00
 Dives:   800 Solitude   5.00
    Roads:    5.00


*Average:    3.29
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!

Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:    1.00
Beginner:    1.00
Intermediate:    4.00
Advanced:    5.00
Night diving:    2.00

Seasonal Information

Season:    Winter
Year:    2008
Visibility:    5.00
Current:    3.00
Surf:    3.00

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