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Paradise - - Traveller -

Yon­a­guni Mon­u­ment, Yon­a­guni Is­land, Ok­i­nawa

The most south­west­erly pre­fec­ture in Ja­pan, Ok­i­nawa is the ‘Ja­panese Trop­ics’, with a year-round sub­trop­i­cal oceanic cli­mate, av­er­age an­nual tem­per­a­ture of 23°C and wa­ter tem­per­a­tures rang­ing be­tween 22 and 29°C.

The Ok­i­nawa ar­chi­pel­ago stretches south west from the main is­land, with pop­u­lar scuba div­ing lo­ca­tions in the Kerama Is­lands, Ishi­gaki and at the western-most tip of Ja­pan: Yon­a­guni. The div­ing all around Yon­a­guni is­land is spec­tac­u­lar, with large co­ral reefs, cav­erns, swim-throughs and vis­i­bil­ity in ex­cess of 40 me­tres, but most peo­ple come here to see the un­der­wa­ter ru­ins.

The myth­i­cal Yon­a­guni Mon­u­ment was dis­cov­ered in the mid-80s by lo­cal

diver Ki­hachi­rou Aratake, who runs the dive shop here.

This enor­mous un­der­wa­ter struc­ture looks like an an­cient tem­ple, and in fact when Aratake first set eyes on it he thought he had dis­cov­ered an ‘un­der­wa­ter Machu Pic­chu’. Vis­i­bil­ity: 40–50m Depth: 10m–15m Abil­ity level: Open Wa­ter, Ad­vanced Open Wa­ter prefer­able. This is a shal­low dive, with an av­er­age depth of about 10 me­tres, in very clear wa­ter, how­ever it is some­times sub­ject to strong cur­rent.

Stay: Sou-Wes Divers is the only dive op­er­a­tor here, run by Aratake and his son, ‘Shorty’. Sou-Wes can also pro­vide ac­com­mo­da­tion (in­clud­ing all meals) at the Ho­tel Iri­fune, a twominute walk from the dive shop. See yon­a­guni.jp.

The au­thor, Deb­o­rah Dick­sonSmith, and her part­ner, Si­mon Mal­len­der, run the div­ing travel web­site di­ve­planit.com and have ex­plored many of the amaz­ing dive sites of the Co­ral Tri­an­gle.

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