The Near Garden is located at the north entrance to Na'ama Bay. It is a coral shelf that extends out from the shore and extends for about 20 feet at a shallow depth. It then slopes off to 100 feet to a sandy bottom. In some places along the slope, you may find sand channels that rise to the coral shelf.
This site begins on an inshore mini-wall that drops from the surface reef table to about 15m (50ft). From here, the reef slopes gently outward, maintaining an even profile to 25m (80ft), where the slope steepens considerably. A huge number of pinnacles, heads, and coral clumps dot the reef as it descends, hosting populations of colorful small reef fish. The larger reef fish are also present as are blue-spotted stingrays resting half hidden on the sandy bottom.
The wall is covered with fan corals, soft and hard corals which are the homes to many fish species. In this area, you may find some large humphead wrasses that will sometimes swim up above you or alongside hoping to get a handout of food. Feeding of the fish is prohibited because it upsets the biological balance of the reef. There are some divers who disregard these regulations and the fish have become quite used to getting fed. This does come as some benefit to the divers as the fish are sometimes easily approachable for photos and videos. There are many glass-bottom boat tours and snorkel tours to this area and the feeding of the fish goes on in spite of the laws.
The Near Garden is a great place for night diving. The reef is completely different at night than it is during the day. The basket and feather stars come out at night to feed in the currents and the lack of sunlight and the use of dive lights makes the colors of the reef more beautiful.
The typical depth range is from 5 to 100 feet and is best accessed by a shore dive, boat dive or a local guide. The expertise that is required for this area is for a novice to advanced snorkeler.