Mikauwa Island a.k.a. Shirnaka Island is situated just south of Ras Banas. It’s sheltered and a good spot to choose when the wind is strong or there are just too many boats at St. John’s Caves. The reef is in surprisingly good condition, maybe because most dive operators and dive guides follow the same route every week just out of old habit and miss this dive site all together.
In a shallow lagoon just off the southeast corner there is a small tower from an old fanous on a small erg. To the west of this tower the main reef starts and this is where you moor up the boat. The easiest way to dive this site is obviously from the boat; descend to the wreck by following the wreckage and debris down the slope. Then swim to the west progressively shallower. The entire sandy slope is like a Japanese garden with coral blocks and small pinnacles.
At the top of the slope a wall rises from 10-12 meters up to the surface. On your way back along the shallow wall, stay at the shallow part. It is stunningly beautiful with soft coral and an abundance of marine life. White tipped reef shark pass by as well as turtles, tuna and napoleon wrasse. Macrolife like nudibranchs and crustaceans happily pose for photographers and schooling fish hangs in clouds everywhere.
This extract is taken from Issue 16 of The Equalizer
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Photographs: Kimmo Hagman