There is no shortage of great diving spots in Okinawa, and a number of them are truly exceptional. The tropical climate of these southern Japanese islands, along with their crystal clear waters, helps make them a popular destination among snorkelers and divers from around the globe. Here we reveal all the best scuba diving spots in Okinawa – including everything from sunken American warships to 10,000-year-old underwater ruins.
- The USS Emmons
- The Manza Dream Hole
- The Mini Dream Hole
- The Yonaguni Ruins
- Cave Nita
- The Sunabe Seawall
- Tonbara Rock
- The Blue Cave
- Hateruma Blue
The USS Emmons
Just off Kouri Island’s northern coastline sits the USS Emmons, which was sunk by Japanese kamikaze pilots during World War 2. The 384 foot long USS Emmons’s stern rests at a depth of 150 feet and the bow at 138 feet. It’s regarded as a war grave, and therefore no diver is allowed to enter the actual ship or take any souvenirs.
Even though many dive shops will take you on this incredible expedition, diving the wreckage is still seen as a rare privilege. Excursions to the wreckage depend on water clarity, there is a long waiting list, and it’s only for advanced and skilled wreck divers. All this makes it undoubtedly the most in-demand diving spot in Okinawa.
The Manza Dream Hole
The Manza dream hole is an L-shaped underwater cave situated just off the coast from Cape Manza. Divers go out by boat and drop down into a narrow opening before reaching a large chamber filled with various fish species. From there, they will swim for approximately 28 meters through the tunnel until they reach the exit on the other side.
Once reaching the end, divers can descend to the ocean floor where they will see garden eels sticking out the sand or follow the stone wall to a colorful coral reef. The maximum depth is 30 meters, and there are sections of the tunnel that are pitch black.
The Mini Dream Hole
The Mini Dream Hole is located right next to the Manza Dream Hole and is a smaller version of it. It offers a very similar experience to the neighboring Manza Dream Hole with the exception that the tunnel is much shorter, and its maximum depth is about 18 meters. Also, at the entrance is a stunningly beautiful and colorful coral reef. The mini hole is usually the preferred choice for beginner divers before taking on its larger neighbor.
The Yonaguni Ruins
The Yonaguni ruins are believed to be the remains of an ancient civilization from 10,000 years ago. The structures, which consist of gigantic steps and other monoliths, are all underwater just off the coast of Yonaguni Island. It’s believed that the sea level rose by approximately 400 feet at the end of the last ice age, which is why these incredible structures are below water.
The waters here are said to be the third clearest in the world, and the structures are not far below the surface, but there are days when currents are active, which is why such a diving expedition is not for the inexperienced. See pictures and get more information on this ancient and mysterious site at diveplanit.com.
The Nita Cave is near the Kerama islands and is home to scores of soldierfish and Ryukyu sweepers. The conditions in the cave are ideal for beginner divers who can enjoy the magical views caused by sun rays shining through the cracks of the cave.
The Sunabe Seawall
The Sunabe Seawall is near Cape Maeda on the Okinawa main island and is an ideal spot for beginner divers. You enter at the Sunabe seawall before descending to a vibrant coral reef similar to a flower field. There is usually a very light current, and the maximum diving depth is 25 meters.
The W-Arch, which is located by the Miyako Islands, is a set of double underwater arches with one of them being in the shape of a heart. It’s one of the most popular Okinawa dive spots thanks to the clear, calm waters and low depth of 18 meters. The cavern is also home to beautiful fish species such as Japanese red pine umbrellas and oyabitcha.
Tonbara Rock sits off the Kume Island coast and is a large rock formation sticking out the water’s surface, but the most beautiful sections of it lie below. The only downside is that strong currents make it off-limits to inexperienced divers, and it has a maximum depth of 35 meters.
The Blue Cave
The blue cave is the most popular diving and snorkeling spot on the main Okinawan island. The water is shallow, and it radiates a bright luminous blue light, which creates a stunningly beautiful and surreal environment. There are many varieties of fish species within the cave that will swim right up to you while you are snorkeling or diving. It’s possible to visit and enjoy the blue cave any time of year, but it’s best to stay away on weekends because there are too many people, and it’s not unusual to see crowds lined up outside the cave as they wait for space to open up.
Off the Hateruma Island coast sits a diving spot known as Hateruma Blue. The waters are relatively shallow, crystal clear, and on the floor, you will find snow-white sand and spectacular coral reefs. It’s ideal for beginner divers as they can explore this incredible underwater world while having feelings of weightlessness. This is undoubtedly one of the most recommended Okinawa diving spots for beginners.