Diving in Japan’s Amazing Amami Islands

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The Perfect start on a Great Dive – Credit: Bonnie Waycott

Paradise diving, amazing marine life and great viz!

Japan has a lot of dive secrets to offer!

Here our Diving in Japan expert, Bonnie waycott, will take you through all the diving at the Amami Islands

Diving in Japan’s Amami Islands

Amami Oshima, Tokunoshima, Okinoerabu and Yoronto are 4 islands that make up Japan’s Amami island chain.

They are known for many things, such as unique dialects or local folk songs but are often overlooked as a dive destination in favour of the more tropical Okinawa.

So, what are the Amami Islands all about?

Here’s why:

Diving in Amami Oshima

When you look at Amami Oshima on a map, its unusual shape is plain to see. It’s a big volcanic island with a rugged coastline, surrounded by cobalt blue sea, colourful coral and plenty of marine life.

Read our Full Guide to Diving in Japan

One of the most popular fish living off the island is the Gilbert’s cardinal fish that lives in large aggregations in sheltered lagoons and bays.

Get up and close to the thousands of Gilbert’s cardinal fish
Get up and close to the thousands of Gilbert’s cardinal fish
Photo by: Bonnie Waycott

You can get up close to literally thousands, as well as shrimps, starfish and other critters hiding under ledges and gathering over small to medium-sized rocks.

In some places, the rocks and coral stand alone, surrounded by white sand that stretches for miles. They’re an ideal habitat for marine life in terms of dark areas to hide in or rich coral to huddle or shelter against, while divers can lie across the sand and take plenty of close-up shots.

Boomie at Amami Oshima surrounded by Gilbert’s cardinal fish
Boomie at Amami Oshima surrounded by Gilbert’s cardinal fish
Photo by: Bonnie Waycott

Diving in Tokunoshima

Swimming turtles and the cry of whales feature highly in the subtropical seas off Tokunoshima.

This island is a fantastic example of Japan’s volcanic geology. Particularly if you’re willing to take a 30-min boat ride to three monoliths out at sea and enjoy more advanced conditions such as currents and 30-meter depths.

Interested I more Japan: Go Diving in Ishigaki Island

If you’d prefer something relaxing, your guide will introduce you to Tokunoshima’s resident turtle Yamachan, known for his unusual mountain-like shell (Yama is mountain in Japanese)

Meet, Yamachan, he’s Tokunoshima’s resident turtle
Meet, Yamachan, he’s Tokunoshima’s resident turtle
Photo by: Ryuji Suzuki

Make sure you have a camera handy, as he is more than willing to pose for photos.

Senma Bay is the main point for shore dives. The descent is a great chance to see up close the island’s rough and rugged underwater terrain where the next lionfish or nudibranch could be just around the corner.

Diving in Okinoerabu

The water temperatures off Okinoerabu range from 21 – 30C with visibility around 20-40 meters.

If you’re lucky you can sometimes spot migrating dolphins and whales early in the year, while numerous reef fish and turtles abound in the spring and summer months.

Macro fans will love the abundant sea slugs, while there are also sea snakes, sea cucumbers and sometimes stingrays and reef sharks.

Enjoy the abundance of life in Japan
Enjoy the abundance of life in Japan
Photo by: Bonnie Waycott

The rocky patches, arches and tunnels are natural amphitheatres, filled with nudibranchs, tiny fish, crabs and sea squirts.

If you’re a beginner or prefer slow and relaxing dives, one site named Yaguna Drop will take you over huge boulders where you can see turtles and the odd tuna or two.

Spend some time exploring the coral there as it houses an incredible range of crabs and shrimps.

You can always find exciting life hiding down in the corals
You can always find exciting life hiding down in the corals
Photo by: Littlesam

Diving in Yoronto

This island is just like the kind of tropical paradise you might see on a picture post card.

It’s a tiny place with traditional villages and sugar cane farms. Its most famous beach, Yurigahama, is littered with star-shaped sand due to deposits of dead plankton and pieces of coral that look like stars.

Experience the Star Shaped sand
Experience the Star Shaped sand
Photo by: Bonnie Waycott

As for the diving, several swim-throughs and canyons burrow through various dive sites that are beautifully sculptured with a range of small and large crevasses and arches.

Learn to Dive Swim-throughs with Perfect Buoyancy

This type of scene features widely, as well as nudibranchs and beautiful reef fish such as blue-banded snappers, triggerfish, damselfish and butterfly fish.

There are plenty of dive sites to choose from, including a wreck that lies at around 34 – 35m, and an impressive and diverse marine ecosystem.

Getting to Amami Islands

For divers in Tokyo, package tours including return flight to the capital and accommodation (with breakfast and dinner) can be booked through Tokyo’s Paradise Island Tours or you can contact me in the comments below for further information or questions.

Are you Diving in Japan?

Share your best Dive in Japan? Tip other divers to the best diving in Japan in the comments!


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