"Smiths Reef" - Great Snorkeling From Shore
Smiths Reef, a shallow patch reef on the north shore of Provo, is one of a few shore-diving options the island has to offer for those divers who just can't get enough! It is a fairly large, circular patch reef that makes for an interesting dive if circumnavigated at a nice slow place.Lots of overhangs and crevices holding lobsters, spider crabs and all kinds of fish. It is the most easily accessed shore dive, and it is only a five minute car ride from Provo Turtle Divers where you can pick up a full line of rental gear, or just a few tanks and weights if that is all you need, as well as the details of how to get there!
Once on the beach you will notice a series of orange float balls which have been placed there to mark the beginning of the snorkel trail that enhances the already beautiful reef. This is a series of tiles that are attached to Reef Balls with descriptions of the fish, invertebrates and corals that are most commonly seen. Although the trail is only a few months old, the Reef Balls are already getting a nice covering of algae, and it won't be too long before they will become home to corals and sponges. Fish have already moved in.
The first balls are only in about 6 ft. of water. As you swim along you will hit the a small patch reef in 10 - 12 ft. At this point you are about 20 yards off shore. Here are some really nice finger and pencil coral formations full of juvenile fish. As you continue towards the main reef you come to gentle sand slope that drops down to the deepest part of the reef (around 22ft). Look carefully, there are often big southern stingrays buried in the sand. As you cross the sand 'roadway' towards the face of the reef, look both ways as you may have to give way to a squadron of eagle rays passing through. As many as 23 have been spotted at one time. There can be a farily strong current in this area, so be careful. From the main head, go west (for those who actually know how to use a compass!!), or right (for those who don't!) for about 20yds until you see another large coral head. Hiding in there somewhere is a HUGE green moray, search for him for a while, he's difficult to find. As you swim around this head you will see a large patch of turtle grass to the east. There are 3 resident turtles which are often seen grazing in the grass beds. Eventually you'll end up back where you started in the deep sandy roadway.
Smiths Reef is a great demonstration of the effects of tides. If you dive it on high slack the vis can be great, on an out going tide the vis drops, and the current picks up. If the barrier reef is breaking, and the wind is high, the chances of a strong current are greater. Check in at the office to find out what the tides are doing. If you're not sure, it's always a good idea to snorkel the area first to assess the conditions. It's much easier to walk back up the beach in snorkel gear than it is in full dive gear!!
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Pickering's Provo Turtle Divers
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