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The Goat Path’s Limestone Shelves, Vertical Walls and Luscious Sea Fans

By: John Chandler

Date Posted: 2000-09-15

The Goat Path is a great dive that you will want in your logbook before leaving Okinawa. However, it cannot be dove every weekend and should only be attempted when the water conditions are flat and you are physically and mentally ready to dive a dive that will really satisfy the adventure seeker. Not too far from Kadena or Camp Hansen the Goat Path demands that divers prepare themselves before attempting your visit to this Underwater World. But with preparation and some Advanced Training you will find the kind of dramatic wall diving that you have read about in all the popular Dive Magazines that run on about how great the Caribbean is. This is by far better than most of what you have read about. But please be prepared!!

What to expect: Very dependable visibility (70+ feet') on most days. A very challenging entry. Very deep water and absolute vertical walls that, in some areas, descend below the recreational limit of 130 feet. However, on these walls and still in the recreational range, are luscious sea fans that will delight the photographer and underwater tourist alike. There is also a wonderful coral covered limestone shelf in 20 feet of water that will gently nudge you over the side and over the great vertical walls, crevasses, ledges and even more coral.

Recommended 1st Dive Profile: Just past the Toilet Bowl you will find a large mound where the newly paved road winds south and toward what is called "Horseshoe." Between the Toilet Bowl and Horseshoe sets a rocky point. This is the Goat Path. Find the painted trail by standing in the center of the knoll and walk to your left oblique. Just follow the painted trail. BE CAREFUL these are very sharp limestone rock formations that have been sharpened by centuries of exposure to erosion from water and wind. Walk slowly and don't be afraid to hold hands with your buddy. Teamwork saves the wet suits and ankles. Please be most careful along your last 15 feet. Check out conditions and don't dive here unless the water is FLAT. Go back up and suit up on the grassy knoll returning to enter the water any where along the rim to your right. Once in the water and finned up point yourself on a short surface swim toward the island of Ie Shima (looks like a huge Hershey Kiss) that sets west by northwest from your entry point. While still on the ledge and using the heading toward Ie Shima descend and go on SCUBA. Swim across the ledge checking out your equipment and making sure everything is working correctly before you plunge over the side of the wall. The plunge is dramatic. It is just like jumping out of an airplane. Currents here will generally nudge you south, so you will want to head down the wall and to the left. A large, very large, rock fell away from this wall and sets right in front of you. It is great to drop down the wall and then fin over to the rock. The top of this rock sets in 60 feet of water and you can descend down and around this rock circling back around the rock where you will end up in 110 feet of water. Obviously you should have had Advanced Training beyond the entry level of Open Water if you want to do this dive safely, but the training is worth it an you will enjoy your confidence on this great dive with the extra effort and training. From the 110 foot level slowly head back up the wall looking in the small crevasses and ledges. Look up. The clear water will allow you to see the drama of your depth and the beautiful deep blue of this area. Be on the look out for Moray eels, lionfish, trumpet fish and a wonderfully photogenic collection of large angelfish that enjoy swimming along the wall. When you ascend be sure to take advantage of the limestone ledge that will support your safety stop in 15 feet of water. You will want to do a safety stop here but the three minutes will fly by if you remember to bring some Vienna sausages to feed the painted wrasse that fly about the reef.

Site Location: On Highway #58 go north of Kadena Circle continuing past the Ramada Renaissance Hotel and crossover the overpass at Nakadomari taking the right fork in continuing on Highway #58 toward Nago. You will pass through the tourist village where McDonald's will be on your right. Continue north on 58 passing the Sun Marina and Rizzan Sea Park Hotels and then through the village of Tanchu until you reach the village of Onna. On entering Onna village you will pass under a pedestrian overpass. You will pass through one traffic light and then travel down hill to a second traffic light where a large Fire Station House is on your left. At this light there is also a large blue traffic information sign pointing left directing you toward Manza Mo. Turn left here. Follow this street up the hill until the houses on your left cease. Continue up the hard surface road and into the tourist attraction area. Be both careful and courteous here. Just beyond the large parking area and tourist kiosks there is a small road on your left. Take that road, it is hard surface but old. The local fishermen use this road to get to their favorite fishing holes that is adjacent to the Toilet Bowl. If a car is coming out of this path you may need to back up or move to the side to let them pass. It's worth the trouble. Follow this path to the left and down to brand new blacktop road. Go past where the fisherman park to fish at the Toilet Bowl and continue up the incline and around the corner to your left. About 50 yards beyond this include, and still on this new blacktop road (there is even a curb here) you will have to park and unload your gear. Check out the path and the dive conditions before you suit up. DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN YOUR CAR. My advice is to not take valuables to any dive site. You can expect them to be missing if you do not secure your car well. Welcome to the Goat Path at Onna Point.

Aquatic animals found here: Sea :Turtles Occasional Eagle Rays. Moray Eels, especially in the crevasses. Lots of large Angel fish and the usual array of Tropical Reef fish that will warm up to you if baited in with Vienna sausages or tuna fish. It is best NOT to bait fish with any frozen food product like peas or corn since the fish cannot digest these large chunks of food.

Best time of year to dive : ONLY WHEN THE WATER IS FLAT!!! Best on an incoming tide.
All photos Copyright©, John Chandler

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