>Four hours later Shingo Suzuki, our dive guide and driver, pulls onto an overlook of Suruga Bay with iconic Mt. Fuji rising in the distance. Shingo points below to the inner bay at Osezaki — the most visited dive park on Izu. Much of the site's popularity is due to Cape Ose, a long finger of land sheltering a beach-lined basin a quarter mile across. In fair weather, experienced divers prefer the rocky slope on the outside of the cape, but with the seas still unsettled from last week's storm, the inner bay is our best bet for getting into the water. Ten minutes later the van disappears inside a warren of multistory hotels, restaurants and dive shops crisscrossed by a maze of walkways, paths and blind alleys cluttered with indecipherable signage. Without Shingo we would have been totally lost; instead he has us underwater within an hour.
>As expected, much of the bay is a mess. We are 20 feet down the sand slope before the visibility breaks in our favor. By 40 feet it has improved enough for us to concentrate on the animals. Unlike Hachijo's volcanic shoreline that has plenty of hiding holes to attract sea life, open sand bottoms offer few safe havens. But as always, life adapts.
>While swimming back up the slope we run into an assortment of boat hulls and other nautical trash sunk over decades as fish attractors. They have done their job well. Through 10 feet of haze we see fish everywhere inside the sanctuaries. It's a kaleidoscope of species different from the Caribbean or Indonesia or even from the fish we discovered at Hachijo earlier this week. Diving, like Paris, is truly a moveable feast.
>Futo, the only other dive park open, is a two-hour drive east across the mountainous peninsula. On the way, Shingo keeps our minds off the bad weather with tales of pinecone fish and the possibility of finding a baby horn shark. When we arrive, fishermen are hauling boats onto shore, and the few divers around are heading back up the slope. A motorized cart takes us to a staging area where a guide rope leading down a concrete ramp disappears into chest-high rollers. We are able to sneak in three dives before the growing storm surge forces us out of the water the following afternoon.
>After two more days in Tokyo, I head home with a tailwind and a new adage to spout, à la Yogi Berra: "A trip doesn't have to be perfect to be perfect."
>© Alert Diver — Q2 Spring 2016