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South Okinawa's Most Exciting Dive Site

By: John Chandler

Date Posted: 2000-08-11

Dive Site: Bolo Point This site should be considered only for diver's with ADVANCED LEVELS OF EXPERIENCE. This week we move out to one of the most breathtaking salients on the East China Sea coast of Okinawa. Bolo Point (ZANPA MISAKI) is arguably the most exciting dive on the southern end of Okinawa. Depths here are dramatic. This dive is worth the effort to gain Advanced Levels dive experience and it is a shore dive!

Site Location: Bolo Point is located at the very tip of the Zanpa Peninsula. Drive north from Kadena Circle on Highway 58 until you reach the second pedestrian overpass. Turn left here just as you would if going to Torii Station's front gate. Follow this route past Torii Station and remain on this route as it winds through the villages of Yomitan. A large hotel has been built just adjacent to Bolo Point and serves as a landmark to drive toward. Follow the blue road signs directing you toward Zanpa Peninsula. Behind the hotel you will see a lighthouse that sets on Bolo Point. Park in the unimproved parking lot next to the lighthouse. Take the painted rock path just to the left of the lighthouse to get to the dive site entry point.

What to expect: There are at least five different dive sites on the western and southern side of the Bolo Point lighthouse. Each is equally exciting and should only be dove by experienced divers. NOVICE divers should not dive this site until they are absolutely confident in their skills, equipment, and the abilities of their dive buddy. Divers can expect vertical walls rising from depths 130+ feet. On these majestic walls are caves and deep crevasses having recesses back into the walls. When the sun shines brightly on the surface, deep penetrating light boldly shines into what appears to be underwater cathedrals. Since the depths of the waters off Bolo Point quickly and significantly exceed the safe limits of recreational diving, it is VERY IMPORTANT that divers here pay focused attention to depth and remaining air pressure. Is it worth it? Yes! But only for divers properly trained and having sufficient experience for these conditions.

Recommended 1st Dive Profile: Walk down the painted rock trail to the water's edge. Be careful. This very sharp rock can cut just as quickly and deeply as coral. Walk down this trail until you have reached what looks like a rock deck. It is best to enter inside the small cove here and snorkel out of the mouth on the cove descending on a westerly heading. It is best to go on SCUBA just as you leave the cove and descend into 10' of water. This gives you a place and time for that last safety check of your gear before going over the side. Continue westerly in 10-15' of water for just a few yards and you will see the edge of the sheer wall that descends to 90'. Be cautious of currents that may head either north or south depending deep water movement. Always try to dive into the direction of the current and return with the force of the current to your entry point. On your first dive you will see numerous areas that you will want to explore on future dives. You should never turn right when you exit the mouth of the cove and dive toward the lighthouse because fisherman favor casting their lines from that point and they have been casting there for decades. Stay to the left and head south along the wall. You will love the dramatic depths below you. On one of our many bright sunny days of summer the light slices through the water giving you that eerie look of depth as the light shimmers penetrate toward depths that can exceed 200 feet rather quickly. You will find swim-throughs and arches here with some small caverns to explore too! Swimming in and among the large boulders here you will find friendly angelfish that are not shy at all. Keep a look out for lionfish that enjoy gliding on the soft, and ever present current on Bolo Point too.

Other activities: Deep diving is the focus at Bolo Point. Night diving is equally exciting here but only for the most experienced and confident divers. Underwater Photography of Moray Eels and sharks can be exciting as well.

Aquatic animals found here: Sharks are sighted here at depths below 70 feet. They are often seen sleeping in caves and roaming the reef near the point. These are Grey Reef and Bull Sharks which are known to hunt by themselves. Expect to see large Lion and Parrotfish. Octopus are often found in the crevasses and rock ledges. Those Marine Biology enthusiasts can expect to see quite an array of nudibranchs grazing across the hard coral and limestone vertical walls of the point.

Best time of year to dive: Summer months are best. During winter the waters are rough and driven by strong winds in this area.

WARNING: PLEASE DIVE THIS SITE ONLY WHEN CONDITIONS ARE GLASSY AND FLAT. WHEN CONDITIONS ARE LIKE THIS IT IS GREAT. WHEN THERE IS ANY WAVE ACTION IT CAN BE DEADLY. WATCH YOUR TIDE TABLES AND KEEP AN EYE ON THE SURF. Have fun and don't go Solo at Bolo.

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