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Okinawa dive recommendations

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Antonia, Mar 15, 2018.

  1. Antonia

    Antonia New

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Brisbane
    I'm heading to Japan late April to mid May and am hoping to dive in and around Okinawa. Am only open water certified with <30 dives so looking for advice on:
    • dive locations that are safe / easy and interesting
    • operators who speak English and can provide a 'guide'
    • indicative pricing (I'll only bring my mask and look to hire everything else)
    • how best to travel between Okinaway and Tokyo
    Any 'do this' or 'avoid that' would be welcome!
  2. busybugs

    busybugs Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Okinawa, Japan
    I am in Okinawa and speak English :wink: I can help you out with local information - drop me a PM :)
  3. NatashaS

    NatashaS Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Hi Antonia,
    My friend and I spent a week diving Okinawa last July as part of a larger dive trip. Some notes for you

    - Many Okinawa ops speak English. We used Daisuke at Okinawa 39ers because he was recommended by an expat with 2000+ dives on the island as a great spotter. Daisuke did a very good job balancing the conflicting interests of two pairs of buddies (macro fanatics vs two seeking larger animals) and was very attentive underwater. He was also very good on email.

    - There are some great shore diving sites; as a relatively new diver your guide will help you dive safely and find the best parts of the sites. We did 4 90-120 min dives on the wonderful Tengan Pier (which has its own FB page if you want to see the types of critters which can be seen there) and would have done more but we ran out of time. We also sampled 3 other shore sites with entries ranging from easy to excruciating. Your guide will help you choose the best sites for your experience and interests.

    - Okinawa boat dives have strict time limits. We like much longer dives so we skipped the boat dives.

    - We did a 1 day trip to Zamami Island in the Keramas - both the sea and the sky were mind-searingly blue that day. There are Okinawa ops that will drive you over and back to dive (we wanted to dive with a local nudi specialist so we took the ferry). Definitely worth at least one day there IMO. The shallow reef we dove was beautiful and the coral was in better shape than what we saw in Okinawa.

    - There were many daily flight options from Tokyo to Okinawa when we were there.

    More tips:
    - Check with your dive op before booking your accommodation. Between traffic and driving distances you can end up in accommodations far from the dive sites if you aren't careful.
    - If you are renting a car be sure to get one with GPS.
    - If you plan to do any shore diving, best to bring dive boots and open heel fins (not full foot fins).
    - Lawson is a terrific convenience store chain with great selection and English labels. That's how we got lunch every day.

    Have a great time!
    Parla likes this.
  4. rb9228

    rb9228 Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Okinawa
    The west coast in my opinion is a lot better than the east coast. Anywhere on the sea wall (Sunabe and Kadena) is great for beginners as there's a lot of soft coral, sea snakes, cuttle fish and occasionally sea turtles. Go a little north and you'll be at Maeda Point. A popular site, but can be crowded with tourist snorkeling. Farther north from there is Onna. Mermaid's Grotto and Toilet Bowl are more advanced sites, but sure favorites. North of that is Manza. These are boat dives, but Dream Hole and Overhang Rock are really spectacular. My personal favorite boat dives. Kerama Islands are my second favorite boat dives. Highly recommend you do at least one boat dive trip.

    As for operators, Andrea at Aloha Divers Okinawa is very good and accommodating also, Doug at Reef Encounters.
  5. USMC CPL.

    USMC CPL. Contributor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Havasu city
  6. Alfawolfje

    Alfawolfje Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Tokyo
    Vanilla air is a good option to fly but check Skyscanner as well to compare. I prefer ANA and use my miles since I travel with my own gear.

    Daisuke is great. If he should be busy, you can also check with Jan from Piranha divers. Great guy. Lots of English options there.
  7. divinh

    divinh Photographer

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Francisco
    If you're going to the Kerama Islands to dive from Okinawa, the boat ride is 1-1.5 hrs each way. The diving style is buddy system with one guide for up to eight(?) people, at least with the outfit I went with, Sea Sir, one branch in Naha. It was full service, which meant I didn't have to carry or setup anything, however, there was rinsing of gear at the end of the trip. The boat had a collection of snorkelers, Discovery Divers and divers, thus the dive sites ended up being on the shallow end. Pricing is without gear. Rentals are about 5000 yen for a full set for the day extra.

    As a tourist to Japan, you get up to five one-way domestic flights in Japan via ANA or JAL for about 110,000 yen each. This may or may not be better than the budget airlines, but it's worth checking. ANA and JAL will have more liberal weight requirements, but you're only a mask, so it's not a consideration for you. For the special pricing, you can book via a travel agent or online. For online, you'll see the cheapest tickets and the fineprint will say it's only good if you have a tourist visa in your passport when checking in.

    I second Jan of Piranha Divers. I did two dives with him to the U.S.S. Emmons, though I don't recommend the dive unless you're comfortable going down to 40-45m. Piranha has other dives too, of course. They're located mid-Okinawa, so a trek up from Naha.
  8. busybugs

    busybugs Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Okinawa, Japan
    I second the Seawall - lots of things to see
  9. busybugs

    busybugs Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Okinawa, Japan
    As far as operators, you have to go with Doug and the crew at Reef Encounters. They are the premier English speaking operator on the island.
  10. Searcaigh

    Searcaigh Chromodoris gordonii Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Dubai, UAE
    Hi Natasha,

    What were the water temps like in July?

    Looking at the website they are currently around 23C did you both dive dry?

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