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Information for Diving in Japan

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The readers’ No.1 choice diving area in Japan!
Diving in ISHIGAKI ISLAND

The reader’s No.1 choice diving area in Japan! Diving in ISHIGAKI ISLAND

Ever since the magazine “Marine Diving” started the “Dive and Travel Award” in 2000, Ishigaki Island has always been chosen No.1 for the “Best Diving Area in Japan” by the readers. One of the main reasons for this amazing success is manta ray. There are 4 main manta ray sites around Ishigaki Island: “Kabira Ishizaki Manta Scramble”, “Manta City Point”, “Yonara Channel”, and “Panari Big Corner”. “Kabira Ishizaki Manta Scramble” is the oldest; this dive site was found in the ’80s by diving guides from the Kabira Area. The newest manta ray site is “Panari Big Corner” found in 2016.

Kabira bay located about 30 minutes by car from the urban district

Ishigaki Island’s diving centers’ main rules for manta protection

Do not follow, do not touch, do not stay in their path, do not get too close, do not approach the mantas from the upper current, do not enter their hovering space.

A beautiful sandbank in Sekisei Shoko

In the south, there are many dive sites in Sekisei Shoko, a large lagoon between Kohama Island and Iriomote Island. In 1972, it was designated as the Iriomote National park. Sekisei Shoko is about 20 km wide from east to west, 15 km long from north to south. It was said that there were about 400 kinds of coral in this area.

South of Taketomi Island

However, in recent years, due to higher water temperatures, the corals suffered very severe damage according to a government survey in 2016. But after a new survey in 2017, the Ministry of the Environment announced that the corals are slowly recovering.

View from Hirakubozaki

The dive sites in the North Area are nearly untouched. There are many dive sites such as an impressively large drop-off with a large number of pyramid butterflyfish, small and big bommies covered by different species of colorful fish, caves, etc.

Experience diving in Ishigaki Island in 360˚ VR!

Season Calendar for divers

Dive Sites in Ishigaki Island

To make things easier to explain, we have divided the ocean around Ishigaki Island into 4 areas: Kabira Area, South Area, West Area and North Area.

Kabira Area

1 Kabira Ishizaki Manta Scramble

Skill level: all levels
Maximum depth: 25 m
Currents: nearly none
Distance: 10 min. from Kabira Area / 50 min. from Ishigaki port
This area is about 600 m wide from east to west, 200 m long from north to south. There are many cleaning stations for manta rays. During the manta mating season from the beginning of September to the middle of November, you may have the chance to see schools of manta rays. Turtles are seen all year round.

2 Manta City Point

Skill level: all levels
Maximum depth: 25 m
Currents: nearly none
Distance: 10 min. from Kabira Area / 50 min. from Ishigaki port
At 400 m west of “Manta Scramble”, there are cleaning stations for manta rays on the reef about 10 m deep. From April to November, if you are lucky, 5 to 10 manta rays may be hovering around the reef. In accordance with the local rules for manta protection, there cannot be more than 5 dive boats at this place at the same time.

3 Yonehara W reef, West

Skill level: all levels
Maximum depth: 26 m
Currents: nearly none
Distance: 15 min. from Kabira Area
It is located to the west of the big coral reef called “W reef” or in Okinawan language “Pukapi”. When you dive in the reef faults, you may find whitetip reef sharks sleeping under the overhangs. Yonehara is also good for snorkeling to enjoy corals and small colorful fish.

West Area

4 Osaki Hanagoi Reef

Skill level: all levels
Maximum depth: 30 m
Currents: nearly none
Distance: 10 min. from Kabira Area / 25 min. from Ishigaki port
In the south of the Sakieda peninsula, there are lots of basslets on this reef. In Japanese, hanagoi is the name of a kind of basslet fish. You may find the yellow head jawfish, harlequin shrimp and, in the spring time, the broadclub cuttlefish laying eggs in shallow water.

South Area

5 Tokakin-no-ne

Skill level: all levels
Maximum depth: 30 m
Currents : sometimes strong
Distance: 40 min. from Ishigaki port
Tokakin means dogtooth tuna in the Okinawan language, and ne means coral bommie in Japanese. So, this is a dive site where you might be able to see pelagic fish including schools of dogtooth tuna, hammerheads, and mantas. At the depth of 13 m, there are square-spot fairy basslets.

6 Yonara Channel

Skill level: advanced
Maximum depth: 30 m
Currents: sometimes very strong
Distance: 45 min. from Ishigaki port
This is a channel between Kohama Island and Iriomote Island, 500 m to 750 m wide and 5 km long. A recently discovered manta ray site, different from the Yonara Channel Mantaway, is on a sandy bottom at the depth of 26 m. While waiting for the manta rays, you can observe garden eels on the sandy bottom.

Gallery of Ishigaki Island

7 “Taketomi Island Minami Jagaimo-no-ne”, south of Taketomi Island. Jagaimo means potato. The coral head looks like a giant potato

8 “Itona Dorm”, an underwater cave in the North Area

9 “Taketomi Island middle book” (named after a Japanese instructor, Mr.Nakamoto. naka=middle, moto=book). A yellow prawn goby and a shrimp

10 Oganzaki lighthouse on the west of Ishigaki Island. There are many dive sites here

11 “Yarabuzaki Corner” in the West Area

12 “Shrimp Garden”, Kabira Area. Shrimps cleaning a coral grouper

Diving Shops in
Ishigaki Island

AQUA-NO-JIKAN Divingservice
(+81)980-88-2799
DIVE STATION BLUMINGO
(+81)90-8821-4499
DIVE PARAPPA
(+81)980-82-5711
Diving School UMICOZA
(+81)980-88-2434
DIVING TEAM UNARIZAKI ISHIGAKI
(+81)980-88-6644
Hana Tola
(+81)980-87-8487
NuNu Adventure Club Ishigakijima
(+81)980-87-0765
Prime Scuba Ishigaki
(+81)980-87-5980
SeaJack divefamily
(+81)980-88-2220
SEA-TRIP D.S
(+81)980-82-6777
SLOWDIVE ISHIGAKIJIMA
(+81)906-822-4694
Viking Scuba Kabira
(+81)980-87-6430

*Please note that not all diving shops on the list have English speaking staff.
*Please choose the diving shops at your own risk. We’re not responsible for any accidents / troubles.

Transportation

There is a bus transportation system on the island. But taxis might be more convenient.
Transportation times:

20 to 30 minutes from the airport to the south urban district

30 to 40 minutes from the airport to the Kabira Area

20 minutes from the airport to the North Area

Usually the diving center picks you up at your location.

http://www.ishigaki-airport.co.jp/en/access.html

A Day of Diving in Ishigaki Island

Please remember to choose the diving center according to the dive sites you want to go to.
South Area diving centers: dive sites in the South, West and Kabira Areas.
Kabira Area diving centers: dive sites in the Kabira, West and North Areas.
North Area diving centers: dive sites in the North and Kabira Areas.

South area diving centers usually take you out for the day on big boats, and Kabira and north diving centers usually return to the base for lunch after 2 dives. Lunch is usually prepared by diving centers.

Diving boats are not so big around the Kabira Area. So, it is better not to bring more than your diving equipment on the boat

Diving boats based in the South Area are often fairly large. There is enough room to bring with you all you need for the day

Accomodation Options for Divers in Ishigaki Island

You can stay at international hotels, beach hotels, hotels in the urban area, family hotels, different types of guesthouses, divers lodges, etc. ... there are many choices in Ishigaki Island. If you like peace and silence you should book a room in the North or Kabira Areas, and if you want to enjoy the nightlife, you should stay in the urban area or in a beach resort hotel.

The “730” monument is the main landmark of Ishigaki downtown. It is in the middle of the shopping area

Fusaki Resort Village on the west coast is a beach front hotel, and is a great location to watch the sunset

Hotel cucule, downtown, is popular with divers

Travel Information

Access to Ishigaki Island

About 3 hours 10 minutes from Haneda, TOKYO

About 2~3 hours from OSAKA

About 55 minutes from Naha, OKINAWA

About 30 minutes from Miyako Island, OKINAWA

About 2 hours from Taipei, TAIWAN

About 2 hours from HONGKONG

Internet:

Free Wi-Fi access at the airport, cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, dive shops and some sightseeing spots.

Shopping

Ishigaki Island is the central and main island of the Yaeyama Islands. In the southern area, there are small shopping centers and there are shopping malls downtown. Misaki town, near Ishigaki port, is a very lively district with plenty of souvenir shops, restaurants, bars, etc. within walking distance. Ishigaki Island is famous for the manta rays. Therefore, it is also a good place to buy T-shirts with mantas, scuba tanks, numerous types of fish printed on them. You can also buy cookies, cakes, steamed fish paste, and more, all shaped as manta rays. These are very popular among Japanese divers who like to bring them back for their relatives and friends.

A boutique in the Misaki town area is selling its original T-shirts

Pottery inspired by mantas, dolphins, etc.

A market inside the Ayapani mall, Ishigaki Island

Hospitals:

On Ishigaki Island there are many clinics and hospitals. The Japanese word for hospital is “byouin” pronounced “byoh-in”.
Emergency phone number in Japan : 119

ATM/Money dispensers

Recently, it has become easier to withdraw money with foreign credit cards at ATMs. You will find such ATMs at the airport. Depending on your card provider, you might be able to withdraw money at 7-Eleven convenience stores, MaxValu supermarkets or post offices.

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