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Snorkeling and Scuba Diving at Secret Beach and Mushroom Rock, Saipan
This is Saipan's least-known shore dive, but one of its best. In the jungle clearing, gear up and walk shoreward through the jungle. There'll be a footpath path you can easily find & follow. It leads to a 15'/5m high natural wall lining a tiny, walled beach. Climb down this stair like portion of the wall, and you'll be on a narrow strip of beach dominated by a 25' tall round rock, nicknamed Mushroom Rock but more closely resembling a Golfball of the Gods. Walk out from the right side of the rock in shallow ankle-high water about 40'/13m, to a 15'/5m drop off. There are rarely any waves at all, and no current here, so entry and exit will be extremely easy. Giant Stride Entry here. Follow the walled channels outward to 45' depths with excitingly clean water, vibrant corals, and fish of very size. There are nice sandy bottoms if you'd like to practice skills. Do not expect ANYTHING in the way of facilities. You are utterly and completely cut off from civilization here... until the next boatload of Japanese divers plants its anchor just offshore. Happily, that's a rare occurrence, only happening when other boat dive spots are experiencing exceptionally bad weather. Locals also know this beach as "Boy scout Beach" and "Americans Scr*wing Beach", for boy scout encampments and for a well-known visit there by a big dive boat filled with Japanese tourists and loads of quickly used film, who were captivated by the oblivious lovemaking of a pair of Americans on the beach there. Bring your camera. Go to the airport, and follow the chain link fence (by car) along to the right. This will lead you to a paved-but-thoroughly-potholed road that will severely tempt you do drive on the grassy shoulder instead, and give you vague feelings of what broken-field running in an active minefield must have been like during WWII. Follow this sad excuse for pavement for about 15 minutes. In an otherwise unremarkable expanse of straight road, you'll see a sign for "Obyan Beach" (pronounced "OB-john"). Turn right here, and follow the many other dive vehicles down this entirely unpaved coral-gravel mudslide until you hit Obyan Beach itself. Turn back, and search along the right side of this steep road for the first right-hand turn, which will be a level road through ironwood jungle. Surprisingly, this road is always in good repair, even though it's no more than a pair of tire tracks in a straight, level line through jungle. This road parallels the line of the bay, keeping a respectful 300' distance from the water. After 5 to 10 minutes along this uninhabited road, when you begin to wonder if you've brought signal flares and survival gear, you'll see an unlikely turn-off to the right. It will be an even-less traveled dirt path that seems to lead into the forest and stop abruptly in a grassy clearing, apparently nowhere near the water. Be careful along this last bit of road, because there's a slippery rock on it that cars often can't handle. Also, trees bend close to the road and can maul your car badly here. I left behind the right-rear quarter panel on my truck there, one day.
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