Diving adventures in Japan
Join hammerhead sharks and lionfish as you investigate the reefs and wrecks of the Izu Peninsula, a thickly forested outcrop of land not far from Tokyo. For a bit of adventure, make the long journey to the Ogasawara Islands to explore World War Two wrecks and meet rare marine life in the "Galapagos of the Orient".
The jewel in Japan's diving crown, however, is Okinawa. With white sandy beaches, mangrove swamps, dense jungle and a rich and distinctive local culture, Japan's southernmost prefecture is a true island paradise.
Under the waves of this stunning archipelago you'll experience some of the best diving conditions in the world as you visit kaleidoscopic coral reefs, explore caves and pinnacles, and come face to face with sea turtles, manta rays and perhaps even migrating humpback whales. To top it all off, at the remote island of Yonaguni you can even visit the remains of what some believe to be a real-life Atlantis.
Recommended Diving Experiences
Diving accommodation across Japan
Pension Papaya (Ishigaki)
The Pension Papaya is a friendly family-run inn located just 30 seconds' walk from the beach on the west coast of Ishigaki, and just 15 minutes' drive from the airport.
This is one of those simple, outwardly unremarkable accommodations that can sometimes turn out to be the highlight of an entire trip. The location is, of course, one of its main selling points: there is a beautiful sandy beach just steps from your room, and the rooms are arranged around a lovely, well-kept garden with a very pleasant terrace area in which to relax.
Location aside, the hotel has one other distinguishing factor – and that's the wonderful owners, who will make you feel right at home throughout your stay. The pension serves an excellent breakfast and dinner is also available.
Busena Terrace (Okinawa Island)
Busena Terrace is one of the top resort hotels on Okinawa Island, and for that reason it was chosen to play host to the G8 Summit in 2008.
Located on Cape Busena, a thin peninsula in the Nago area of the island, there are coastal views in every direction and the hotel has its own private, white, sandy beach.
There is a wide range of guest rooms ranging from deluxe suites to cottages with private pools. InsideJapan are happy to book any room type on request, however we highly recommend Ocean View rooms – as the less expensive Garden View rooms can be a little disappointing. You wouldn't want to come all this way and not have a sea view, after all!
As you would expect from a resort hotel, there are plenty of facilities, including a wide range of top-class restaurants and bars, a gym, shops, boutiques, indoor and outdoor pools, and a spa with a full range of treatments and baths. There is also a wide range of activities such as cruises, chartered boat trips, diving and snorkelling, sea kayaking, trekking, traditional craft workshops, tennis, yoga and various water sports.
Please note that there is not much else in the area around the resort (no other shops or restaurants), but that's all the more reason to make full use of the facilities Busena Terrace has to offer.
Hoshinoya Taketomi (Taketomi)
Hoshinoya is one of the most exclusive accommodation names in Japan, with well-established properties in the cultural capital of Kyoto and in the Japanese mountain resort of Karuizawa.
The Hoshinoya group's new luxury villas on the island of Taketomi are a wonderful combination of traditional Okinawan architecture (think red-tiled roofs and stone walls) and stylish modern interiors (think king-size beds and warm wooden floors).
The villas are arranged around pool and spa facilities, each with a private garden. There is a guest library and a lounge offering free internet access and laptops, complimentary drinks and snacks, and nightly performances of traditional local music. In terms of dining, the Hoshinoya has its own exclusive restaurant specialising in “Ryukyu Nouvelle cuisine” – or traditional Okinawan fare with a French twist – and full room service is also available.
The island enjoys a subtropical climate and the sea is warm enough for comfortable swimming from March to November, with daytime temperatures relatively warm even in the middle of winter. Scuba and snorkelling are easily arranged and can be booked through the hotel, while English-speaking staff are on hand to advise about excursions.
Please note that you will need to pay on the day for all meals at the Hoshinoya Taketomi.
Iriomote Eco Village (Iriomote)
The Eco Village sits between jungle and beach. The hotel is made up of a number of standalone villas and a small block of rooms all with a sea view just sitting feet away from the ocean's edge.
If the clear warm sea is not enough for you, there is a pool for customers to enjoy, and the Iriomote jungle begins just a few steps from the hotel doorstep. Besides the secluded location, beautiful sea views and stunning nature in every direction, one of this hotel's main attractions is the fantastic level of service provided by its staff. Any special request is thoughtfully accommodated, and you will often find that your needs have been catered to before you even thought of asking. All of the hotel's guest rooms have en suite bathrooms and air conditioning, and are equipped with twin beds. The suite room, meanwhile, is very spacious with a large double bed and attached day lounge. The Eco Village runs a barbecue between April and October, and there is an in-house restaurant serving delicious food at other times. Some of the staff speak fantastic English – which is pretty unusual for Japan!
Kerama Beach Hotel (Zamami)
The Kerama Beach hotel is a simple but comfortable Western-style hotel in a quiet location with beaches to the east and west.
Guest rooms are a bit on the bland side, but comfortable – with good beds and en suite bathrooms. All have excellent sea views.
The hotel staff are exceptionally friendly, will pick you up from the main port, and can arrange diving and snorkelling trips around the Kerama Islands. The hotel has a good restaurant serving simple food, including steak and chips! There's also a very pleasant bar and terrace area if you would like to relax at the hotel.
Yado Natura (Zamami)
The Yado Natura is a family-owned, Japanese-style hotel in Zamami's small main town, a short distance from the port.
With just four rooms, you can be sure of attentive, personal service at the Yado Natura! The hotel offers free pick-up from the port and will also shuttle you to Furu-Zamami beach – a beautiful sandy stretch just a ten-minute drive from the hotel. The hotel owners are happy to help arrange snorkelling, scuba diving or sea kayaking if you wish, and can even prepare bento lunchboxes for the following day if notified in advance.
All four guest rooms are en suite, with air conditioning and Wi-Fi. Japanese-style dinners and breakfasts are served every day, and there is a washing machine for guests to use for free.