Okinawa might spark memories of its bloody history which still lingers in the minds of WWII veterans but this once forbidden island opened its doors to the rest of the world and now the birthplace of Karate has become the latest hotspot for scuba divers.
Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyu Islands and is located northeast of Taiwan in the East China Sea. Coral gardens, cave diving, massive sea walls, caverns, swim-throughs and large reef walls are some of the common features found in the area. There are various diving locations on Okinawa.
The main island offers diving in the north and southern areas, while surrounding islands offer alternate dive locations and take less than 15 minutes to access them via boat. The main island is home to the Manza Dream hole, a very challenging site for professional divers only. This large gaping hole in the reef descends roughly five meters before opening up to a 26 meter deep reef wall. In order to reach the wall, divers must permeate a thick wall of fish that constantly flutter about.
Southwest of the Main Island exists Chiibishi, a group of four tiny islands near the Kerama islands. A hodgepodge of staghorn coral, long table coral, gorgonian fans and blue coral are plentiful here, creating an inviting environment for divers. The coral here bends and meanders in every which way, creating a sort of coral labyrinth full of swim-throughs and caves. Make sure your dive buddy doesn’t lose you in the maze! It is not uncommon to see soldier fish, sweepers, white tip reef sharks and Japanese Pygmy Sea horse.
The flora and fauna alone make this a unique dive site worthy of checking out and you can also observe unusual feeding behaviour in Okinawa waters. Cannibal nudibranch preys on different families of nudibranch since many of them are deathly toxic to everything but themselves. The cobalt blue and sun yellow striped Roboastra Luteolineata gorge themselves on other sea slugs. Okinawa is one of the best places to observe how the photo friendly nudibranch chows down on their fellow mates.
Okinawa has year round warm waters and the Kuroshio Current brings a large amount of wildlife to the waters near the isles. Water temperatures in the summer average around 29C and in the winter it rarely dips below 19C. Needless to say, there is no need for drysuit diving in Okinawa.
If you’d like to dive in Okinawa one of following operators can help you plan your trip:
Bluefield Dive Shop +81-98-957-2200
Reef Encounters +81-98-995-9414
Source: Diving Discoveries