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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.

6 reasons why Osaka should be on your radar

6 reasons why Osaka should be on your radar

Osaka is affectionately known as "Japan's kitchen". It's the birthplace of ramen noodles (which celebrate their 60th birthday in 2018) and is home to some of th…

26 Sep 2017 • Tamara Hinson insert_drive_file Article
Japan travel tips: 13 things to know before you go

Japan travel tips: 13 things to know before you go

With its glittering royal palaces, ancient temples and sacred shrines as well as sandy beaches, some of the world’s best skiing and beautiful national parks, …

07 Sep 2017 • Freya Godfrey insert_drive_file Article
Where to stay in Tokyo: an area by area guide

Where to stay in Tokyo: an area by area guide

As the biggest city in the world, it’s unsurprising that Tokyo is crammed full of different places to stay – and with each district boasting its own charact…

08 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook