Off the eastern end of Mbulo Island, Begho is another massive point extending forever underwater. When the moon and currents are right, it is arguably the busiest marine life dive I have ever been on. Jacks, tunas, Spanish mackerel, barracuda, tangs, ocean triggers, long spine unicorns rush hither and yon, while gray reef, white tip, and black tip reef sharks zoom in and out of the busy thoroughfare. We find a spot and get comfortable and squeeze every second of bottom time we can as we ease our way up the slopes, knowing we will be well entertained by unusual squirrels and wrasses, sparkling diamond jacks and hosts of others on our long safety stop.
The north side of Mbulo Island is generally pretty well protected from any storm surge. It is home to the most prolific variety of hard corals that I have seen anywhere- and I only wish I knew all their names. Wandering in and out of canyons, the corals grow in fascinating formations, reminding one of visions of fairylands and castles. It pays to keep a sharp eye out, for cuttlefish roam the area seeking food, and if we're lucky, a mate. It was here I watched entranced as 2 males duked it out over a female, hovering coyly over in a protected corner. A stunning array of butterflies, angels and wrasses can keep one endlessly occupied.
The north east end of Mbulo combines much of the variety of hard corals found at Castles with deeper canyons and dropoffs , and endless labyrinths of caverns and tubes inshore one can wander through for hours. The sandy bottoms of these caverns provide great habitat for blind shrimps and their goby partners. I can lie there and watch this act for hours, as the shrimp continually "bulldozes" the burrow free of debris, with a feeler ever in contact with its guard goby. A great spot for turtles. Superb snorkeling.
Drop in just off the shallow lagoon and you have too many choices- drift to the north in search of big animals, scrutinize the pink fan corals in the hopes of finding the tiny pygmy seahorses, wander in and out of the deep slits. Or you can head in the opposite direction, where the terrain features fine hard coral gardens interspersed with sand patches. Schools of colorful parrotfish compete with nesting titan triggers for your attention; or should you count the number of varieties of anemone fish. Or, you can dive right into the lagoon, and crawl through the sea grass on the eternal sea horse hunt. But don't ignore all of the babies that populate this unusual nursery.
Another southeast facing ridge smothered in luscious lemon soft corals with dancing golden damsels above, Silvertip boasts ridges lancing off from the main ridge, creating deep, beckoning canyons yet to be explored. Here, Allan encountered his first silvertip shark, a big, curious fellow who stayed with us for a full 5 minutes, zooming in and out to inspect these intruders in his territory. At the risk of repeating myself, we were immersed in schools of pyramid butterflies contrasting with the grays and silvers of the tangs, runners, barracudas and jacks that populated the deeper ridge tips.