Top Experience: Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling on Iriomote Island Japan

Join The Travel Tester on a discovery tour of Iriomote Island in Yaeyama, Japan. We show you the highlights and our tips for diving and snorkelling in this area.

After visiting Ishigaki island and Taketomi island in Okinawa, we took the ferry to our final destination in paradise: Iriomote Island. Here we experienced some of the top Okinawa diving and snorkelling options of the area, so put on your wetsuit and jump in after us for this adventure!
 

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

 

Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience

Iriomote island is the second largest island of Okinawa in Japan. Almost 90% of the island is covered in jungle and mangrove forests and most activities involve water in some way or another. From fishing, to sailing and kayaking (this last one we’re going to tell you all about soon!) to of course some of the best Okinawa diving and snorkelling of the area.
 

We started our Iriomote water adventures in the Uehara harbour, where we weren’t very optimistic about the success of this day: the skies were grey, it was a bit chilly and rain started to come down, just before we got on board of a small boat and try on our diving gear. Recipe for disaster!

 
Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

In Japan, you snorkel with life vests on(what?!). I look almost happy, right?

okinawa-diving-iriomote-japan (4)

Together with Team Italy in the water

 
To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to being in the water at all, no matter what the weather was. I don’t know if we ever told this story on this blog, but when we were swimming one day in Australia, I stood (swam?) eye-to-eye with a 2 meter long shark.

I never swam so fast to shore ever before. Seriously.

After that, anything related to the ocean I’d rather see in a picture than in real life.

But, we were going for it and luckily, the weather soon began to clear up. It even became sunny! Just having to take in an extra deep breath. this. will. be. fun.

 

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Some of us went diving as well, personally, snorkelling was exciting enough :)

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Paul the Okinawa Diving King!! Meanwhile, in the bottom left corner I’m trying not to think of sharks. Not working, apparently.

 

After a while, the sun really got wild, just as we arrived at the most magical part of this area: Barass Island. It’s made totally out of coral and it just looked incredible.

 
Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

 

Top Experience: Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling on Iriomote Island Japan

local wildlife

 

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester  Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

 
Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

 
Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester
 

After the first round of snorkelling, we said goodbye to our happy hosts and grabbed a bite to eat. After that, it was time for round two!!

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

All the Japanese you need to learn :)

 

For our second snorkelling trip, we head over to the second harbour of the island (Shirahama) and were taken aboard a glass bottom boat to see some coral AND lots of turtles! Amazing!!

 

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

I’m a bit more relaxed now… also didn’t really get off the boat anymore at this point, just enjoyed the sun and the views :)

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Magical colours in the water!

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Nick is greeting the turtles from under our boat

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

A bit hard to see, but can you spot the turtle??!!

 

Meet the Iriomote Cat!

There are two other things on the island that this place is famous for: the Iriomote wildcat and the Yubu Island Waterbuffalo cart.

Because we had such strong rain when arriving on the island, we didn’t get to go on the buffalo cart (and by this we could avoid the discussion whether it was ethical to do so or not in the most easy way), but we did get a quick view of the Yamaneko (yama=mountain neko=cat) Museum, otherwise known as the Iriomote Wildlife Conservation Center.

This places informs and rescues injured wild cats, that are a native and unfortunately endangered species of the island.

And quick it was, because we arrived around closing time and the lady running the museum couldn’t be bothered keeping it open for just 10 more minutes. It was the first (and probably last) Japanese person I ever met that was rude, haha. She did eventually let us in, but already started to turn the lights of when we walked around. By the looks of the museum, she must have had roughly the same amount of visitors as the Louvre coming through today, so yeah, she must have been tired running that all by herself. Aaaany-way!

 

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Buffalo carts with Yubu Island in the distance

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Iriomote Island

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

The Iriomote Wildcat. Poor thing. Stuck with evil cat lady forever and ever!

 

More to see and do on Iriomote Island

As I said in the beginning, we will write a separate post on the kayak and jungle trekking we did on Iriomote Island Japan, because it was just too awesome to leave lots of pictures out. So stay tuned!

Instead, here are some quick tips on places to eat on Iriomote Island, see the map on the bottom of this page for all locations:

 

Laugh La Garden
Must try: a nice and juicy (fish) burger, or try the traditional fried chicken

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

 

Kitchen Inaba
Must try: Wild Boar Sashimi

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

 

Cute Little Izakaya (Sorry, can’t read the name!)
Must Try: everything, really, but I love the crab and the fresh tuna

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

 

Nirakanai Hotel Restaurant
Must Try: all you can drink Owamori (sake) and the Purple Yam Ice-cream

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

Top Okinawa Diving and Snorkelling Experience on Iriomote Island Japan | The Travel Tester

 

 

The Travel Tester - Bookmark Practical

Information on which Okinawa Ferry to take to get here in our first post on the Yaeyama Islands, where you can also read more on the hotel we stayed at on this island.

The snorkel tour that we did is mostly run for Japanese tourists, but ask your hotel, because there are plenty of diving- and snorkelling trips with English speaking options. You can also book these in the harbour itself.

 

Check out all locations on our map:

Open this Okinawa map in Google

 

Disclaimer: We were kindly invited by the Okinawa Tourism Board to experience the hospitality, culture, food and nature of Iriomote Island. All photos,  opinions an meetings with scary seacreatures are 100% our own, as always.

Written By
More from Nienke Krook

2012 – A Year Living As An Expat And Travel Agent In Sydney

[:en]We've been living in Sydney since 2011, but I felt 2012 was...
Read More

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge