Tuesday, August 27, 2013



Often compared to such world-renowned diving destinations as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Bahamas, Palau, and Yap Island, Okinawa is a hidden paradise for divers, with an endless list of enchanting underwater beauties and wonders.

Located on the southernmost part of Japan, Okinawa's surrounding waters are fed by the warm Kuroshio Current running north from the Philippines, bringing a huge variety of marine life to the islands. The genial subtropical climate, with an average water temperature of 22 degrees Celsius in winter and 30 degrees Celsius in summer, facilities year-round diving. Species of reef fish, marine mammals, and sea turtles that inhabit Okinawan waters total more than 1,000 while reef-building corals exceed 200, making Okinawa one of the largest coral habitats in the world. It is where divers can anticipate fascinating encounters with such creatures as giant mantas, strikingly patterned butterfly fish, colour-splashed groupers and magnificent whale sharks.

Talk about the extent of diving site variety: In the Ryukyu Archipelago there are approximately 160 islands of varying size 48 of which are inhabited, stretching for 1,000 kilometres from east to west and 400 kilometres from north to south in between the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea, and the variations of underwater landscape that exist there are as numerous as the islands themselves. The coral reefs flourishing around the Kerama islands for instance, are renowned for their beauty, which matches, if not surpasses, that of the Great Barrier Reef. " The most beautiful and diverse coral reefs that I have ever seen anywhere in the world were in Kerama," once said French marine biologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau, author of "The Silent World". in the early spring the waters off the Kerama Islands become a breeding ground for humpback whales, offering divers the rare opportunity to hear their songs. Yonaguni Island, with its mysterious underwater ruins site, featured in National Greographic and on the Disovery Channel, is also a known spot to encounter giant trevally, Napoleon fish, barracuda and giant cuttlefish as well as schools of over 100 hammerhead sharks that gather there to spawn during the winter, The World War II shipwreck USS Emmons is located on the seabed off the main island's s Motobu Peninsula. Numerous natural tunnels and caves, an expansive reef with a width of over 180 meters, an arch-filled landscape formed during the Ice Age... the list is endless.

So, what are you waiting for? It's your turn to discover the world's best kept secret with your own eyes, The opportunity awaits you down in Okinawa.

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1. Kerama Islands
With a depth ranging from 5-35 meters, the Keramas are suitable for all diving levels. caves and caverns as well as a white sand bottom with many pinnacles can be seen. Sightings of sea turtles, skates, large schools of fish, white tip reef sharks, eels and countless others can be expected.

2. Yaeyama Islands
Numerous points include the Ishigaki Manta Scramble for the sighting of mantas and Yonahara Reef for a relaxing dive with a view of small fish schooling over Yonahara Reef for  a relaxing dive with a view of small fish schooling over flourishing coral, as well as Nakanoogan Island for dynamic geoglogical features and Yonaguni with its mysterious underwater ruins site.

3. Miyako Islands
Known as a "cave island," Miyako spots include Toriike, a pair of ponds on land that join each other underground, with one of them connected to the adjacent sea, and the Devil's Palace with its dynamic structure featuring multiple tunnels and arches.

4. Kume Island
Located in the island's east is a 7-kilometer-long sandbar named Katenohama with a steep drop on its north side and a flat sand bottom on the south, where Tonbara Rock, known for sightings of large migratory fish, as well as hammerheads in winter, is found.

Zampa Point
Large wall dive about 50 meters deep on the northern side. Many caves, swim-throughs and large fan corals on the southern side.

Manza Dream Hole
The hole begins at a depth of 6 meters, leading to a larger chamber that hosts a school of a couple thousand fish.

A popular local site known for a variety of hard coral species and the sighting of turtles. Swim- throughs and crevasse at a depth of 7.5 meters.

Ginowan Gardens
The area (depth 10-35 meters) is lined with coral-covered pinnacles, home to a large variety of reef fish, great for photography.

USS Emmons Shipwreck
Destroyed in an attack by Japanese kamikaze aircraft during World War II, the USS Emmons (90 meters in length) was reportedly sunk by the US to avoid the danger of it drifting towards Japanese territory.

Hear What the Experts Say

David Megara (Oki Diving)
New Jersey, USA - 22 years in Okinawa
- Snorkeling is highly recommended here in addition to diving. What Okinawa offers is not only for its waters. There are opportunities available for various cultural experiences for visitors. I want them to get the most out of their stay here, especially if they take all the trouble to travel here.

David Richmond (Asian Dive Tours)
Washington, USA, 13 years in Okinawa
6 years as shop owner
PADI master instructor / boat captain
The Sunabe seawall offers diving for all levels of divers; it is an easy beach entry with depths ranging from five to 25 meters. you can expect to see vast fields of soft corals dotted with anemones and a countless variety of reef fish.
It;'s one of my hopes and wishes for the Western and English-speaking divers of the world to see just how beautiful Okinawa is, both above and below the ocean!

Flight information
Airlines shuttle daily between Naha Airport and the mainland's major cities including Tokyo (Haneda, Narita), Osaka (Itami, Kansai), Kobe, Nagoya, and Fukuoka. Flight times from major mainland cities to Naha airport are indicated below. Transportation to remote islands is by either plane or boat.

Flight times from major mainland cities to Okinawa
Tokyo (Haneda, Narita to Naha) - 2 hrs, 10-15min
Osaka (Itami, Kansai to Naha)    - 1 hr, 50 min
Kobe to Naha                              - 2 hrs
Fukuoka to Naha                         - 1 hr, 35 min

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