Diving in Japan’s Amazing Amami Islands

Diving in Japan’s Amazing Amami Islands

Shore diving in Japan

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.

Diving with thousands of fish in Japan

Get up and close to the thousands of Gilbert's cardinal fish - Credit: 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.

Diving in Amami Oshima, Japan

Boomie at Amami Oshima surrounded by Gilbert's cardinal fish - Credit: 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.

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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)

Dive with turtles in Japan

Meet, Yamachan, he's Tokunoshima’s resident turtle - Credit: 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.

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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.

Sea slug while diving i Japan

Enjoy the abundance of life in Japan - Credit: 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.

Find Macro diving in Japan

You can always find exciting life hiding down in the corals - Credit: 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.

Diving at Yoronto in Japan

Experience the Star Shaped sand - Credit: 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!

About The Author

Bonnie Waycott

Bonnie is our diving in Japan expert! She was born in the UK and lived in Japan as a child. She became a certified diver four years ago in New Caledonia, and has been exploring Japan’s waters ever since.


  1. Sandra Huebner

    Hi Bonnie you keep getting us exited about diving in Japan. I have to get my act together and finish planning my trip there!
    It looks really great!

    • Bonnie Waycott

      Thanks Sandra, and I hope you can make it out here one day! Let me know if you need any further info :)

  2. Oswin

    Hi Bonnie, when is the best time to dive at Amami Oshima?

  3. Bonnie Waycott

    Thanks for the comment Oswin! I would say the best time is June to August, as the water is warming up and it’s a bit before typhoon season (the typhoons usually start arriving in August, late July if you’re unlucky). Yoronto in June was particularly good.

  4. amy wong

    Hi, Bonnie,

    Would like to do some scuba diving November in Amami , is that a good choice of i need to wait for next year ??
    interesting in marco items and would like to photos some nice nudi….

    thanks to let me know.

  5. Huiminlai

    Hi bonny!
    I want to go diving but have a hard time finding course w not owercrowd but good place
    Im a beginner – just got open water cert last year- im looking at amami and around
    For sep 15-18
    I live in chigasaki

  6. Huiminlai

    Hi bonnie,
    I got open water cert last year.
    Im looking for a diving shop that dives in amami or islands in that area.
    In september 15 -18
    Do u know of any?

  7. Angie dela Cruz

    Hi Bonnie,

    Very informative and inviting site you put up here. Thank you. I have always been wanting to do some scuba diving in Japan. I have a conference to atttend in Japan June 29- July 3, 2018. Is June good for diving… i can come days before my conference for diving. Looking forward to meeting and diving with you.
    Oh… I am from the Philippines by the way


    • Bonnie Waycott

      Hi Angie, thank you for your kind message, am delighted you enjoyed the article. Unfortunately I have recently re-located outside of Japan and am no longer in the country, but if you’d like to email me via my blog Rising Bubbles (www.bonniewaycott.com) we can talk more about where in Japan you’d like to dive and any requests you may have. I can also put you in touch with English-speaking dive groups and shops depending on your preferred area. Looking forward to hearing from you!


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