Okinawa conjures images of an exotic island paradise that became entangled with the USA’s involvement in the Pacific War of WWII. The cluster of the some 160 islands which make up the Okinawa archipelago is starting to nudge travellers radars as the world’s perception starts to alter for the better. Foreigners are learning of the pristine white sandy beaches, stunning turquoise waters and colourful marine life contrasting with dramatic rugged scenery.
Still home to over 100,000 US troops, Okinawa is a far cry from the culturally rich traditions mainland Japan has to offer, but you do not go to Okinawa for the culture. You go for the diving.
The outer islands, flecks of sand and coral scattered throughout the Pacific Ocean to east and East China Sea to the west, although expensive to reach, is where possibly the best diving in the world can be found. Diving on WWII ship wrecks and amongst vibrant corals and flamboyant marine life, the high visibility and clarity of the water is second to none.
For those who are strapped for time or cannot afford to reach the remote outer islands, there is still an assortment of wonderful dive sites close to the mainland accessible from the Okinawa’s capital, Naha.
A 60 minute boat ride from Naha’s harbour will get you to the Kerama Islands, a designated National Park surrounded by waters known as ‘Kerama Blue’ offering some of the clearest waters in the world with visibility of 50-60 metres.
The knot of 20 islands and clusters of uninhabited islets that make up the Kerama’s are bursting with unspoilt nature, tropical vegetation and are laced with powder white beaches, speckled with coral – some of the best beaches Japan and Asia have to offer. The shimmering emerald waters are truly transparent. This pocket of the world is a true ocean paradise.
Beneath the surface, is a diver’s mecca. Underwater scenery that could rival that of a tropical aquarium. Colours so rich at depths of 20-30m, it’s like someone has slipped an illuminated vivid lens into your mask. The sun shimmers through the crystal clear waters as rainbow fish dart around you. Orange, pink, yellow. It’s almost like someone is splattering paint around you. Anemones sway in the gentle current as shy clown loaches peer out cautiously, skinny eels weave through nooks and crannies, iridescent star fish cling to the sunburnt rocks.
The coral is opulent and grand. Undamaged, rich and healthy. The wealth of aquatic life is unlike anything experienced before. The waters are warm and inviting and teem with an abundance of sea turtles that regularly glide past majestically, so close you could touch them, completely ignorant of divers’ presence. The winter months draw in the humpback whales seeking warmer waters, a true spectacle in itself to witness from an underwater perspective.
The seascape of the underwater world is truly something that needs to be seen to be believed. It is a world some see only in pictures, the underwater world filled with the wonder and mystery of the unknown. The reefs, the colours, the fish, and the pure enjoyment of discovery are only some of the reasons we scuba dive.
To scuba dive is to have a quest for adventure and the waters of Okinawa are filled with just that.
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.