Scuba Diving Okinawa

Scuba Diving Okinawa: The Complete Guide

Also known as the Ryukyu Islands, the Okinawa prefecture is distinctly different from the rest of Japan in terms of cuisine, culture, and language. Okinawa’s rich culture and history along with its subtropical climate are what draws in many tourists each year.

Situated south of Japan, the Okinawa group of islands experience a subtropical climate with temperatures barely falling below 15 celsius in winter. There’s much to see and do for every visitor in Okinawa, from marvelling at the beautiful architecture to indulging in the fine cuisine.

Thanks to its location in the East China Sea, Okinawa also caters well to scuba divers! Scuba diving Okinawa promises unique experiences worth writing home about including some incredible coral reefs and a variety of marine life.

Scuba Diving Okinawa

Located south of Japanese mainland in the East China Sea, the water surrounding the islands is highly regarded as some of the most beautiful in the world! This makes for some incredible underwater landscapes not to be missed by scuba divers in Asia.

This part of the East China Sea grants access to crystal clear blue waters that ensure every diver can appreciate and absorb the brilliant seascapes and marine life before them. There’s also a great variety of available sites for all abilities with enchanting reefs, caves, and captivating wrecks.

These waters also make for comfortable conditions, with warm blue water and great visibility, making it a great option for divers of all abilities!

Okinawa Scuba Certification

Scuba Certification

There is no requirement to be certified to scuba dive in Okinawa. While there are some dives catered to the more confident and experienced, there are plenty of options for newbies too.

There are many tour operators that cater to those of all levels of ability, no problem for beginner divers. Thanks to the vastly different conditions and diverse range of dive sites available, there are plenty of beginner-friendly and easily accessible dive sites to get your flippers wet for the first time.

It’s always recommended to get scuba certified to give yourself the best, most enjoyable diving experience possible. While you’ll have a great time scuba diving Okinawa as a first-time diver, there’s a lot you can miss out on without the extra confidence and diving experience, such as the more challenging caves and wrecks.

In addition, becoming scuba certified will help you feel more comfortable and confident underwater. This leads to maximum enjoyment and safety from your diving experience and something worth considering.

Okinawa Scuba Diving Requirements

Scuba Diving Safety

Okinawa has no specific laws governing scuba diving that those diving with an organized tour need to be aware of.

As always, tour operators state that you must be in good physical condition and have some swimming ability. Children must be at least 10 years old to scuba dive with a tour operator. You may be required to complete a medical form to confirm your eligibility to dive.

With that said, it’s always highly recommended to have a dive buddy when you’re out scuba diving in Okinawa, as it is anywhere else. This is particularly the case if you’re out diving without a tour operator or guide. In this situation, it’s also good practice to make use of diver down flags.

Best Dive Sites in Okinawa

Honestly, I am a bit disappointed that so many beginners tend to overlook Japan. But I won’t advise you to do that, especially if it’s Okinawa. A world-class, subtropical diving destination, it’s located on the southwestern tip of the Japanese archipelago and comprises around 400 islands.

From east to west and north to south, the picturesque underwater setting doesn’t leave out any stretch of the region. Be it caves, wrecks, tunnels, or drops- name it, and Okinawa has it. Besides, you can find anything underwater, from scattered remains of WWII to the gigantic hammerhead shark. To see what’s in store, head out to the following sites:

Blue Cave

Cave Diving

A heads up: there are multiple places with the same name across Japan, so don’t confuse them with this one. The Blue Cave at Okinawa has been named after the blue waters.

Formed through the erosion of oceanic waves, the calcareous (white) sandy bed reflects the entering sunlight to give the water a bluish hue, which changes with the changing intensity of sunlight. It’s 6 meters deep at the deepest point, and the area last accessible by visitors is around 35 meters from the entrance.

I’d suggest visiting this cave between dawn and noon to best experience the vibrant beauty of the waters. Oh, and don’t forget to greet the friendly fishes!

If this sounds ideal to you, be sure to check out our recommended diving package experience below!

Minna Island

Okinawa Diving

Sure, the croissant-shaped Minna Island isn’t the largest one on my list so far, but I won’t mind coming back here again and again. With a 4 kilometers circumference and dive depth of 18 meters, it may not excite the advanced divers out there. But the alluring charm of the white sand and emerald green beaches won’t let you be away for long.

The first of the two underwater points worth mentioning are the Kujira Iwa, with reef colonies shaped like a whale. And then there’s the Giant Cable, which appears to be woven to the sea bed with coral reef.

If you’re heading to Okinawa and looking to get your first taste of scuba diving, this unique dive will definitely make lasting memories, check out our recommended diving package below!

Sesoko Island

Tamarindo Dive

Close to Minna Island lies the larger Sesoko Island, so you can actually visit both in a single excursion. The fringing reefs in this zone are full of caves and tunnels, which are home to various marine species, such as whitetip reef sharks, clownfish, and lionfish. Apart from that, the more familiar names include octopus and tuna.

Given its shallow depth, it’s not difficult to assume that the waters boast of clear visibility. In the summer months, the visibility reaches as deep as 40 meters. Therefore, plan your tour anywhere between mid-June and mid-August.

Best Time to go Diving in Okinawa

Okinawa truly is a year-round diving destination. The climate is subtropical and the temperatures stay pleasantly warm year-round, rarely dropping below 70°F.

Depending on the site and conditions, expect visibility in excess of 100 feet and water temperatures of 80-85°F in the summer months between June-October.

How Much Does Scuba Diving Cost in Okinawa?

If you’re looking at booking a dive package experience through a tour company in Okinawa, you’ll find prices between $120-$180. The prices generally include gear rental and levy’s so there are no extra fees.

In addition, a PADI Open Water Certification will set you back around $650, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Scuba Diving Gear in Okinawa

Scuba Gear

There are plenty of dive shops located in Okinawa. This means gear rental is always an option.

It’s worth noting, you’re left with one less thing to think about when going with a diving package from a guided tour operator as all equipment and gear are included.

However, buying your own gear might be ideal for you if you’re a more keen and experienced diver!

Be sure to check out our buyer’s guides if you’re looking for scuba gear. There you’ll find all of our top recommendations for a range of scuba gear.

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