Macro at the Caverns



Welcome to Yap Caverns – our best wall diving, swim-throughs and macro shooting.


These photos were taken on one dive this afternoon when I hopped on a third-tank boat last-minute.

No matter how you do the Caverns, it’s usually good, and it generally gives you everything but the cleaning manta rays, from big to small.

I always drop down the wall and go deep first. At 30m there’s a coral head that is a cleaning station for sharks, turtles and big fish – it takes a bit of current to get the sharks to be active at it and today was just right.

Reef sharks in a vertical stall, mouth open holding a slow body swerve, is the show as the wrasses get in a clean.

I watched 4 grey reefs and a white-tip take turns cleaning with two massive barracuda circling in wait.

Had I been on wide angle, this would be a big fish post… but I wasn’t.

You know how it goes… roll in on macro and the big animal show is going off – tour the amphitheater on wide angle and a robust ghost pipe fish is in between a cleaning moray and an aggregation of reef shrimp.

Today was productive and it would have been regardless of the lens I chose.

Morays being cleaned is a common site, I had one in front of my lens and one behind my fin, both sticking way out of their rock holes with wrasse and shrimp doing their thing.


Mike pointed out this Dragon Wrasse, doing whatever Dragon Wrasse do. These guys don’t hold still and most of the time swim on one side and hardly look like a fish at all, not to mention they can be smaller than an inch.


I always check the anemones, there’s several good ones and they are usually home to a whole community of critters.


Porcelain crabs, ghost shrimp, anemone fish (adult and juveniles) are abound.

Your carpet anemone color choices are white with purple tips, blue with blue tips and green ones.

Sometimes these things are closed up with fish playing peek-a-boo offering different behavior opportunities to photograph, other times they are laying flat and covered with ghost shrimp.

Popcorn shrimp are found clinging to the tentacles, and reef shrimp can be found by looking underneath these things.

All over the walls and on sandy ledges are Moyer’s draggonettes, that look like Mandarinfish with a different color pattern.

Another solid find are Scorpion Leaf Fish – there’s one in almost every color here.

Today I came across 4 different leaf fish without trying – Mike gave me two and I found a couple while floating over the pinnacles.

Not all of them made a winning shot, one of them was smaller than my thumb, in a dark hole and facing away from me.

Once in a while you get a nice color fish that doesn’t absolutely match it’s background and you can bring home a nice leaf fish photo.

Other leaf fish shots from today look like reef wall with an eyeball in the center of the frame, their camouflage is impeccable.

Yap Caverns is a leaf-fish-rich dive.

You don’t have to wait around too much, the dive guides keep their rattle in their hand during the whole dive.

From 40 meters to your safety-stop there’s something to shoot – if you’re a fish person, this place can give you all the reasons to get into it.

Cleaning is going on everywhere making the behavioral photography strong if that’s your thing.



Thousands of Antheas and Flame Angels cover the walls dodging feeding Trevally.

Safety-stopping at the Caverns affords the opportunity to play around with these things until your computer is happy and you can surface for your hot tea, dry towel and fresh banana bread.

The theme of this post is “all from one tank” – over time Yap Caverns media makes for an impressive stack of shots, but coming back with something worth showing from a single tank is more of the visitor’s experience where there’s not seasons of photographs from the same site to choose from when sharing. For macro shooting, this is the site that offers the most subjects in one area.

I learned all of what I know about shooting fish and shooting macro at Manta Fest, our annual photography party where we learn from the top underwater professionals through workshops and one-on-0ne training at the Crow’s Nest bar. All levels of photogs get to participate in a photo contest with tens of thousands of dollars in prizes, everybody goes home with something! Learn more at  –



Availability & Reservations

Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly
11:27 21 Mar 18
We stayed at the hotel and dove with Manta Ray divers in early December 2017. The hotel is very comfortable, well run and staffed with wonderful employees. During our visit my wife came down with an illness and the consideration and support from the hotel and dive staff could not have been more
Sandy Stinson
Sandy Stinson
16:03 03 Mar 18
The staff couldn't be more friendly and accommodating. Food is good, (worth upgrading to include all meals). Diving is good more
Alex Divinsky
Alex Divinsky
17:24 01 Jan 18
The best place to stay in Yap. The resort is really nice and clean, the scuba diving is great, and the docked ship that houses the bar, restaurant, and movie screen is very cool. I really enjoyed my stay more
10:44 01 Jan 18
Offers one of the best accommodation service. It also has a uniquely designed restaurant.
Yi-Hsin Lin
Yi-Hsin Lin
00:53 21 Feb 17
The whole place centers around the scuba diving operation. Probably better to find somewhere else if you're not a diver. The dive operation was generally good, but a little too laid back - schedules weren't always clear, and sometimes would change without any notice. Sometimes it was hard to tell if this was really because of changing tides/weather or because of the island pace of life. Pizza is a surprisingly good option at the more
William Myers
William Myers
21:01 21 Jul 18
Great hotel. Have stayed twice.
Emily Caquelin
Emily Caquelin
04:10 02 Aug 18
Manta Ray Bay Resort is a great dive resort with extremely hospitable staff.
Daniel Granzer
Daniel Granzer
11:40 23 Aug 18
We were from 11.08 to 18.08 at the Manta Ray Bay resort and had unforgettable days there 😍In total we made 12 dives with wonderful encounters. Highlights were, of course, the manta rays in the Goofnuw Channel and many white tip reef sharks in the Shark City 🦈 But also we saw eagle rays, turtles 🐢 and buffalo head parrotfish. The hotel is beautiful and the whole team does a great job there. The food on the ship Mnuw, as well as the home-brewed beer are excellent. Thank you again to the whole team of Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers 👏🏼We also did a one-day land tour to explore the many beautiful places of this unique island. The beach is like in paradise🏝, stone money and relics from the second world war very worth to see! You find there also culturally typical houses with different meaning and use! It would be nice if more visitors would come to this great island and appreciate the great work that is done there! Anyway, we really enjoyed it and would come back anytime 🙏🏻✌🏼read more
Jonathan Gapith
Jonathan Gapith
10:31 19 Sep 18
Best dive resort around, amazingly friendly staff and great food on the mnuw
Rene Sten
Rene Sten
04:06 12 Oct 18
Bill and his family run a great dive resort, rooms are spacious and comfortable. Restaurant and bar provide good range of food and drink. Bill and his dive guides know the reef intimately and the diving is spectacular. Bill and his family make for a very friendly and rewarding experience in more
Ms. Malinda
Ms. Malinda
13:52 14 Oct 18
Great place to stay while visiting the island. Lots of activities to do with places to see & people to more
Jan Toman
Jan Toman
22:14 02 Nov 18
Great! GREAT! GREAT! Lovely place, lovely staff, great location for divers!
Deb Roy-Stothart
Deb Roy-Stothart
13:55 06 Dec 18
The highest level of dive service ever experienced! Fabulous dive operation from crew, boats, snacks, hot tea and water, warm towels etc. etc. and of course the Manta Rays!! Thank you for making my 100th dive so memorable. Accommodations 5 star! Food was fabulous! Can't say enough about this beautiful Island and it's people. Loved Yap! Deb & Glenn, London, Ontarioread more
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