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.