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Deep Diving is The Ticket at Horseshoe Beach

By: John Chandler

Date Posted: 2000-10-27

Dive Site: Onna Point - The "HORSESHOE"

This is yet another visit to the wonderful diving complex of Onna Point. If you have been using some of my suggestions for dive spots you will have noted that this is the third time I have written about Onna Point and the wonders of the reef and the wall diving that is available there. Horseshoe Beach is nestled between Onna Recon and Toilet Bowl and is just alongside of the Goat Path. Horseshoe is distinctive because of its small but very inviting beach and makes this a favorite of families and Moms that want to introduce the younger members of their families to the wonders of the reef eco-systems. If you want to reef walk while other members of the family dive THIS IS THE SPOT FOR YOU!

What to expect: On the calm days fall and winter when there is no surf action across the reef this is a spectacular dive! Do not attempt to dive here if prevailing winds are pushing waves across the reef. Divers have been killed here due to lack of respect for currents and wave action. It is best to dive on an incoming or high slack tide. USE YOUR TIDE TABLES-DO NOT GUESS! From the white sandy beach (see photo inset) walk directly west keeping the lava escarpment on your right moving toward the edge of the first reef. The first reef is exposed during low tides. High tides allow you to walk about halfway then snorkel over the first reef. The second reef lays in 15-25' of water depending on the tidal movement. On SCUBA you descend into a lush carpet of hard corals with numerous crinoid, soft corals and anemone interspersed with their amazing splashes of color. Sunset Wrasse, Butterfly fish, Blue Damsel fish all combine with many other tropical fish to give you the sense of diving inside an aquarium. Maintain your westerly heading across this carpet of fauna and flora to the edge of the reef. Check your buddy out real well because this is the edge of a 120' wall! Flying over the edge is breathtaking. This is a deep dive and should be treated and planned as such.

Recommended 1st Dive Profile: Across the reefs' edge you will descend as deep as your training and experience allow. Be prepared for nitrogen narcosis and whatever surprises oxygen in that density may provide you. Be safe and know your limits. Stop your descent at 80'. You should to turn to your left and swim with the wall on your left. You will be amazed at how much water remains beneath you while you remain at 80' Swimming left for 50 yards you will enter a series of crevasses that have exits out the top into 25' of water. Move slowly and enjoy the views. At high noon, as light is penetrating its deepest, the cathedral effects through these chimneys is absolutely breathtaking for everyone and most seductive for the underwater photographer. Move into the first cavern. Notice here that the ceilings are painted with red and yellow sea fans growing toward the light of the chimney at the rear of the short cavern. A large Turkey fish lives toward the rear of this first cavern and is most cooperative with photographers. Keep an eye toward the ceilings as you move through for more Lion fish that may be resting upside down as is their fashion. As air pressure and time allow explore toward the rear, if you care to, and exit up the chimney. A second cavern exist further south also in about 80' of water. Don't push your bottom time too hard since you can get to this on your second dive. The second cavern is equally impressive and it too has a large Turkey fish that calls it home as well. Keep an eye out for passing Eagle Rays and Sea Turtles which often ride currents welling up from the depths. Out of the chimney in 25' you should set an easterly heading back across the second reef for a real nice safety stop at 15'. The profusion of tropicals will make your three minutes seem like 30 seconds.

Other activities: Deep Diving is the ticket here. Underwater Photography is essential since there are numerous MACRO subjects growing on walls inside the caverns. The beach makes it a great place for families and friends to have a day in the sun and when the tide is high it is really a great spot for snorkelers too!

Aquatic animals found here: Sea Turtles. Eagle Rays. Moray Eels. Cuttlefish. Abundant tropical fish of all kinds (bring Vienna sausages). Always a curious Lion fish and of course the occasional Sea Snake will slither up to say hello.

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 McDonalds will be on your right. Continue north until you reach the village of Onna. It is the next village past Nakadomari. On entering Onna village you will pass under a pedestrian overpass. One Kilometer pass this you will bear to your right and be moving downhill to a traffic light. At this traffic light there is a large Fire Station House on your left. Also there is a large blue traffic sign pointing left with direction to Manza Mo. Turn left here. Follow this street up the hill until the houses on your left cease. At the end of the houses turn left again. Follow this street until you reach the second set of power lines crossing this improved road and turn right onto an unimproved road. Follow this single lane crushed coral road until in comes to a "T" with another crushed coral road. On your right you will see a brand new (but locked) wire fence and gate that prevents you from driving on to a new paved road. Park here just outside the gate, there is a small pathway around the gate for diver access. LOCK YOUR CAR-LEAVE NO VALUABLES or leave someone with the vehicles. A path leaves the parking area through the bush and moves toward the beach. A cave/grotto will be on your left. Follow the path down as it winds to your right. It is small but safe and not hard to traffic across even with gear on. This path winds for about 25 yards down to a hidden beach that is about 15 yards wide. Nice white sand and bleached crush coral make it a real nice beach for relaxing and barbecues between dives. At low tide the coral reef is entirely exposed. At high tide it is a snorkelers paradise! You can choose to bring all your gear down to this beach or walk to and from the vehicles. This usually depends on the company you are in. With children and non divers it is more fun for everyone if you unload and comfortably set up your beach operations here.

Best time of year to dive: Fall, Winter, and Spring are best since the tropical heat will really hit you hard when walking from your vehicle to the dive site all suited up.

All Photos Copyrightę, John Chandler

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