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Looking for a Kiss!

By: John Chandler

Date Posted: 2001-10-13

Last weekend several dive buddies and myself drove up the west coast on Highway 58 to confirm that one of my favorites on Okinawa remains a great dive site for everyone who wants to get out and explore this wonderful island. We headed up to Seragaki, which is barely an island and is connected to the main island by a 100-meter concrete bridge that spans the reef and delivers visitors to a place of fun.

What to expect: At Seragaki you can expect all the amenities that families, and moms, like at the beach. There is a saltwater swimming pool, a snack bar, clean restrooms, great campsites for tent campers, and some really beautiful scenery. When you enter the parking lot you can drive on the wide sidewalk on the western-most edge of the park. This is where all the divers generally park if they are not camping. There is usually plenty of room to park any time of day.

How to get there: Take Highway 58 north towards Nago. You will pass all the large Japanese resorts as you travel through three villages. After passing through Onna Village drive past the community harbor on the left and over the next hill. This hill will wind down to your right. At the bend you will see a sign that says "Seragaki". Turn left and then go across the causeway. There is an admission of ¥500 or $4.50 per person but it is worth it.

Recommended 1st Dive Profile: Walk down the stairs on the Western Point facing Ie Island. Walk into the cove area and move across the reef with a heading that will take you directly towards Ie. On most days it is clear enough to see all the way across the bay area, and observe that the pinnacle on Ie really looks like a large Hershey’s chocolate kiss. So head for the Kiss.

At low tide this can be a long walk across the coral. On an incoming high tide, when visibility is at its best, the water will buoy you and the walk isn't too bad. On a heading toward the Kiss there is a nice cut into the reef that will allow you to descend to 15' and move toward the edge of the wall having some reef beneath you. At the edge you will have the opportunity to descend to 110' before bottoming out.

It is recommended that divers keep their depth at, or above, 80’ and follow the wall south keeping the wall on the left. By doing this you will be able to extend your bottom time and your dive will resemble a drift dive if the currents are moving in a southerly direction. Currents do play a factor here. Proper planning can really enhance your dive and help you move safely across more territory.

Moving south you will encounter large red and yellow gorgonian sea fans. Often times these gorgonia will have brilliant yellow criniods hanging on making for some very colorful portraits with your buddy as the star. Last weekend there was a huge, maybe the largest Turkey fish I have seen on the western coast of Okinawa, hanging out under a ledge in 30 feet of water. What a find for a shutterbug!

Be sure to take a flashlight along with you on this dive so you can illuminate the fans and all the crevasses you will encounter. You should ascend using the wall as a reference point. The top of the wall will be in 15'-20' of water so you will be able to enjoy an "illustrated" safety stop which is sure better than just having to hang on to a line

Other activities: Kayaking, snorkeling and reef walking make this an ideal family picnic spot.

Be sure to drop by this weekend’s Project Graduation Bazaar being held at Lester Middle School. We will be joining other folks helping the Kadena High School Seniors raise funds for a safe and enjoyable graduation this year. Please come by and say hello on the 13th and 14th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Fish Pic of the week is a photo of the bashful Sharpnosed puffer (Canthigaster coronata) that was photographed on Seragaki’s wall this past weekend. A really fun fish to watch hovering near and on the red sea fans they remind me of the coral reef’s answer to the hummingbird. Next time you are on the reef see if you can spot one like this. See you on the reef!

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