Aerial view of the Kerama Islands in Okinawa, Japan
Text by Elizabeth Lim
Images from Shutterstock
Located about 40 kilometres west of Naha, the Kerama Islands have a long history as one of the places to go for diving in Okinawa. Boasting more than 100 dive sites, the Kerama Islands are also known as having some of the world’s clearest waters. There are various dive operators and resorts on Aka Island and Zamami Island that can take you to the sites of your choosing.
Some popular dive sites around the islands include:
1. ljyakajya (Yakabi Island)
A known manta cleaning station, ljyakajya is the best spot in the Kerama Islands to get up close and personal with these magnificent rays. The site has a maximum depth of 30 metres and currents are mild, so the dive can be enjoyed by divers of all levels.
2. Cave Nita (Zamami Island)
This site features an underwater cavern at a depth of 15 metres with an entrance underwater and an exit at the surface. Here, divers have the opportunity to encounter big schools of silver sweepers and big-eyed red soldierfish. Due to the unpredictable conditions and nature of cave diving, this site is only recommended for intermediate divers and up.
3. Nishibama Beach (Aka Island)
Considered one of the best spots to dive in the Kerama Islands, Nishibama features pristine corals teeming with reef fish alongside a perfect stretch of white sand. The easy beach-entry dives are ideal for snorkellers, while scuba divers are able to explore further out to depths of around 26 metres.
4. Whale Watching (Around Kerama Islands)
The Kerama Islands are a breeding ground for humpback whales, one of the principal reasons for the area’s designation as a national park. The season that migrating whales visit the islands for courtship, giving birth and nurturing is winter, from January to April. Whale watching boat tours are hugely popular and the humpbacks can generally be relied upon to put on a thrilling show. If you want to dive with the whales, however, you’ll have to find an operator with the experience to get you in the water with these impressive animals.
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