With scores of dive sites around Okinawa-Hontō – and many more around the outer islands – one of the best reasons for visiting Okinawa is to go diving. There are plenty of dive shops, but only at a few will you find instructors who speak English. PADI courses are available on Okinawa-Hontō from Maeda Misaki Divers House and the American-run Reef Encounters. Once you have your certificate the islands are yours for the taking. To rent equipment, you should know the metric readings of your height, weight and shoe size.

There are great diving opportunities every way you turn on the islands, but the following sites are particularly notable.

Zamami-jima

Fantastic hard corals, more reef fish than you could count in a week and lots of big fan corals. Head to Zamami-jima, a particularly laidback spot from which to organize a dive with the instructors at Joy Joy.

Miyako-jima

There are over fifty different dive spots to choose from around Miyako-jima, with cave dives being particularly popular: start off by hooking up with Good Fellas Club.

Ishigaki-jima

Dotted around the Yaeyamas are 360 species of corals and sea anemones, including the rare blue coral reefs off Shiraho-no-umi on Ishigaki-jima. Among the thousand-odd species of fish you can expect to swim with are barracuda, butterfly fish, redfin fusiliers, spadefish and manta rays in the waters between Iriomote-jima and Kohama-jima.

Iriomote-jima

There’s easily accessible coral in the waters surrounding this enchanting island. Both youth hostels can put you in touch with local diving operations.

Yonaguni-jima

For the ultimate dive experience consider lugging your gear out here to see sea turtles and hammerhead sharks, and to explore the enigmatic rocks that some claim are the remains of a sunken civilization.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Japan features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert's guide: the best homestays in Japan

An expert's guide: the best homestays in Japan

With a reputation for expensive hotels, Japan is the perfect place to try a homestay. There’s no better way to experience the real Japan than with a stay with…

15 Dec 2017 • Joe Minihane
All aboard: the most incredible sightseeing trains in Japan

All aboard: the most incredible sightseeing trains in Japan

None of this choo-choo stuff – Byun! Shu! are the sounds that a Japanese train makes. And while bullet trains – shinkansen – are one of the symbols of mod…

28 Nov 2017 • Neil McQuillian insert_drive_file Article
Sipping sake: a dispatch from one of Japan's oldest breweries

Sipping sake: a dispatch from one of Japan's oldest breweries

Sake is quickly replacing craft beer as the cool kid on the drinks scene globally – and a number of breweries have recently opened in the UK, USA and Austral…

10 Nov 2017 • Tamara Hinson local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right