Yosuji-no-ne, Okinawa (main island) – This dive site is named after the yosuji, or blue-banded snapper that inhabit this spot in large schools at depths of 24 metres/80 feet. Here, divers will find luminous cardinalfish, sea goldies and schooling bannerfish, which like to group around rocks at depths of 16 metres/50 feet.
USS Emmons, Okinawa (main island) – This Gleaves-class destroyer was sunk in a kamikaze attack in April 1945, killing 60 American crew and five Japanese pilots. Suitable only for experienced divers, Emmons sits between 36 to 45 metres/120 to 150 feet and is still property of the United States Navy. At this fascinating site, divers will get to see the ship’s cannons, screws, ammunition, machine guns and the helmet of a soldier.
Yonaguni Monument, Yonaguni Island – This amazing formation is located off the westernmost coast of Japan. Controversy surround the ruins, also referred to as the “Yonaguni Pyramid,” as experts disagree whether the formations are man-made relics of an ancient sunken civilization or naturally occurring geological structures. The mysterious site sits approximately 30 metres/100 feet beneath the surface and features step-like rocks and formations that look like footpaths and amphitheaters. Aside from the geological scenery, Yonaguni is also on the migration path for hammerhead sharks, which pass through in numbers from November through June.
Tonbara, Kume Island – This point has a dramatic underwater landscape of large rocks covered in corals. After making their way around the huge rock reef to Tonbara Rock, divers can find large fish such as giant trevally, dogtooth tuna and bigeye trevally. During winter, hammerhead sharks also visit this area.
Fudensachi, Aguni Island – Affected by the Kuroshio Current, also known as the “Black Tide,” diving at Aguni Island is recommended only for strong swimmers and experienced divers due to its strong currents. During summer, thousands of bigeye trevally and dogtooth tuna migrate pass Aguni. Other common visitors include horse-eye jacks, tuna, Napoleon fish, sharks and hawksbill turtles.
Yabiji, Miyako Island – This dive spot is only exposed to the open air once a year, which has caused it to earn the nickname “Phantasmal Island.” The reef shelf has a depth of six metres/20 feet to 10 metres/33 feet, and is covered in its entirety with table corals and branch-shaped corals on which colorful fish and crustaceans live. Divers may also chance upon a manta ray!
Ishizaki Manta Scramble, Ishigaki Island - Also known as “Manta Point,” manta rays are frequent visitors in this area. Hovering gracefully above the coral reef, this is truly an awesome site to behold – suitable for divers of all levels, Manta Point ranges in depth from eight to 16 metres/25 to 50 feet. Although mantas visit year-round, they are most commonly seen from July through September.