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Hammerheads and Underwater Ruins
Diving in YONAGUNI ISLAND

Hammerheads and Underwater Ruins Diving in YONAGUNI ISLAND

50, 80, 100……River !! You can see “Hammer River” with high probability! (Video by Sou-Wes Yonaguni)

Whaleshark, manta ray, and tornado of barracuda in “Kuroshio Blue” water ! (Video by Sou-Wes Yonaguni)

Overview of Yonaguni Island

Which island is the westernmost island of Japan? The answer is Yonaguni Island. In fact, this small island located in the middle of Kuroshio current is closer to Taiwan than it is to the other Japanese islands.

Possibility of seeing more than 100 hammerhead sharks!

Possibility of seeing more than 100 hammerhead sharks!

The dynamic ocean around Yonaguni Island is extremely unique.
Huge school of hammerhead sharks and the mysterious underwater ruins in this ocean have been attracting the divers from all over the world!

Whale sharks visit Yonaguni Island from time to time

Whale sharks visit Yonaguni Island from time to time

Many pelagic fish such as barracudas and dogtooth tunas can also be seen, and from time to time, even sailfish and whale sharks appear!
The splendid visibility is also worth noting, with over 50m when the condition is good.
With all of this plus the fun cavern dive sites and many kinds of sea creatures to see, you will never get tired of diving in Yonaguni Island.

A dive site at the ruin called “The turtle” is a large rock that looks like a turtle seen from above

One of the structures at the ruin called “The Turtle” looks like a turtle seen from above

The top 2 popular dive sites are “Irizaki” and the “Underwater Ruins”.
“Irizaki” is at the western point of the island, and it is popular for the high possibility of encountering hammerhead sharks and large pelagic fish.
“Underwater Ruins” is in the south area. Therefore, you can dive here even during the winter season, while other dive sites are closed due to the north wind.
If you are willing to dive at these 2 dive sites, we recommend you visiting Yonaguni Island from December to May.

Cave dive site called “The palace of light”, or  “Hikari-no-Kyuuden” in Japanese

Cavern dive site called “The Palace of Light”, or “Hikari-no-Kyuden” in Japanese

! Rules to watch hammerhead sharks !

★Do not chase the hammerhead sharks, or they will swim away. Follow the guide’s order, keep enough distance from them, and wait for them to come to you.

★Quickly descend head first, because the current is fast.

★Be sure to maintain neutral buoyancy, you will most likely be drift diving within the depth of 15~20m. Do not get too far from the guide.

Season Calendar for divers

Dive Sites in Yonaguni Island

1 Irizaki

Skill level : from intermediate
Maximum depth : 25~30m
Currents : sometimes very strong
Distance : 10 min. from Kubura port
This dive site is famous for the hammerhead sharks. You will be watching hammerheads in the middle of the ocean, away from the reefs, walls, or any kind of underwater structures (100% blue water diving).
You may also see schools of dogtooth tuna, barracuda, and bigeye trevally. Sometimes, even sailfish and whale sharks appear!

Hammerhead Rock

2 Underwater Ruins

Skill level : from intermediate
Maximum depth : 17m
Currents : sometimes strong
Distance : 20 min. from Kubura port
Here lies an enormous underwater monument which is said to be remains of an ancient city. Some of its rock formations such as “Main Terrace”, “Entrance” and “The Turtle” looks human-made, but the truth is still a mystery. There are so many interesting sites here that you won’t be able to see them all in just one dive.

Underwater Ruin

3 Sabachi

Skill level : all levels
Maximum depth : 10~20m
Currents : nearly none
Distance : 10min. from Kubura port
Colonies of red sea anemones spread at the depth of 15m, and living together with them are beautiful Tomato anemonefish. From winter to spring, you can see broadclub cuttlefish mating at this dive site.

Sabachi

4 Muran

Skill level : from intermediate
Maximum depth : 25m
Currents : sometimes strong
Distance : 10 min. from Kubura port
There is a cave shaped like letter “L” at the depth of 20m, and when you go through it, you will see beautiful arches. There are Elegant firefish and school of square-spot fairy basslet at about 25m deep.

Mouran

5 White World

Skill level : all level
Maximum depth : 10~20m
Currents : sometimes strong
Distance : 15 min. from Kubura port
A beautiful dive site with endless white sand bottom and deep blue ocean. You may see schools of striped large-eye beam and bluestripe snapper at the wall.

White World

6 Umabana-hanareiwa

Skill level : all level
Maximum depth : 26m
Currents : sometimes strong
Distance : 10 min. from Kubura port
You can enjoy the underwater formations such as dynamic walls and arches, as well as large fan corals and colorful school of basslet.

Umabana-hanareiwa

Gallery of Yonaguni Island

“Tindabana” is a natural observatory. From here, you can see sonai village the center of the island and the East China Sea beyond it

“Tindabana” is a natural observatory. From here, you can see Sonai village in the center of the island and the East China Sea beyond it

This is the sailfish monument of Yonaguni, standing in Irizaki. Sailfish fishing is famous in Yonaguni Island, and a big competition is held. “Monument of the Westernmost Point of Japan” is also nearby

This is the sailfish monument of Yonaguni, standing in Irizaki. Sailfish fishing is famous in Yonaguni Island. “Monument of the Westernmost Point of Japan” is also nearby

“Tachigami-iwa” is believed to be the rock of God

“Tachigami-iwa” is believed to be the rock of God

Yonaguni horse, the natural monument of Yonaguni Island

Yonaguni horse, the natural monument of Japan, is the endeminc species of Yonaguni Island

Diving Shops in Yonaguni Island

Sou-Wes Yonaguni
(+81)980-87-2271

*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

We recommend renting a car or a motorcycle in this island. It might be tiring to travel by bike with the hills, and there are not many public buses (The public buses are free).
If you would like to use taxis, make sure to reserve them beforehand.
Watch out for the horses and cows when travelling!

Transportation times:

10 min from the airport to Sonai

15 min from the airport to Kubura Port

15 min from Irizaki to Hikawa

20 min from the airport to Agarizaki

The guest house staff usually picks you up from the airport or Kubura port at your arrival. On the day of diving, the diving shop staff would pick you up from your guest house.

A Day of Diving in Yonaguni Island

The common diving style in Yonaguni Island is drift diving. Since the fast current is flowing at most of the dive sites, you need to have diving skills above intermediate level to dive in this ocean.

Diving boats have ladders, which makes it easy to enter & exit the water

Diving boats have ladders so it is easy to enter the water, but be careful when exiting the water

For example, at dive sites near Irizaki, where you would most likely be diving at if you are aiming to see the hammerheads, you need to quickly descend as soon as you enter the water and maintain the neutral buoyancy at about 15~20m deep. And of course, safety stop at 5m deep during the final ascent.

Caution: After the final ascent, make sure to hold on to the line connected to the boat and wait in line to exit the water. Otherwise, you will be swept away by the fast current!

Yonaguni Island is perfect for blue water diving with the high visibility

Yonaguni Island is perfect for blue water diving with the high visibility

Most of the dive sites are near the port (5~20min boatride away), so usually you come back to the port after every dive.
One dive before noon, have lunch at the port, and go for the second dive… is the common pattern. If you are going for the third dive, you come back to the port again to rest after the second dive.

Accommodation Options for Divers in Yonaguni Island

For accommodation, small guesthouses are common. There are hotels, but not very large. Many diving shops also have guesthouses, so it is convenient to stay at these.
There are three villages in this island: Sonai, Kubura, and Hikawa. Most of the restaurants and accommodations are around Sonai, the center of the island, and Kubura, where the port is at.

 “Island Hotel Yonaguni” is the biggest hotel in Yonaguni.

“Island Hotel Yonaguni” is the biggest hotel in Yonaguni.

“Irifune Annex Bamboo Villa”, located at the top of the hill, has a magnificent view

“Irifune Annex Bamboo Villa”, located at the top of the hill, has a magnificent view

There are some restaurants at Sonai and Kubura, and you can enjoy local food and alcohol.
This is a restaurant in Kubura called “Isun”.

There are some restaurants at Sonai and Kubura, and you can enjoy local food and alcohol. This is a restaurant in Kubura called “Isun”

Enjoy sashimi of sailfish and other local food at the restaurant “Hate” in Sonai.

Enjoy sashimi of sailfish and other local food at the restaurant “Hate” in Sonai

Travel Information

Access to Yonaguni Island

35min from Ishigaki airport (3 flights / day)

1h 25min from Naha Airport (1 flight / day)

4h from Ishigaki port (twice a week)

Internet:

Wi-fi is available at the airport and some of the accommodations.

Shopping

Although there are no supermarkets or convenient stores in this island, there are small shops at Sonai and Kurabe, where you can buy “Kandaiyu” made from sailfish, “Donnan”, a strong Awamori with the ABV of 60 degrees, and products made with salt and Peucedanum japonicum of the island.

There are T-shirts and original products at the souvenir shop “onemahina”

There are T-shirts and original products at the souvenir shop “onemahina”

Awamori “Donan” is an alcoholic drink with ABV as high as 60 degrees!

Awamori “Donan” is an alcoholic drink with ABV as high as 60 degrees!

Hospitals:

There is only one hospital in Yonaguni Island, and it is small.
If you are seriously injured or sick, you may need to go to the hospital in Ishigaki Island.

ATM/Money dispensers

There are ATMs at post offices. Money exchange is usually not available. Not many shops accept credit card payment, so be sure to bring cash with you.

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