KAGOSHIMA
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DIVING & SNORKELING

UNESCO Natural Heritage Diving Sites at Amami and Yakushima

Dive in Amami and Yakushima, two of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and see the stunning marine life in these islands.
UNESCO Natural Heritage Diving Sites at Amami and Yakushima

Imagine diving into a beautiful blue paradise where you can see an endless stretch of colorful coral reefs. Or swimming among diverse ocean creatures in the middle of a sea of endless blues. Or walking under a canopy of leaves from Japan's oldest cedar trees. There is all that—and a lot more—waiting for you when you explore these beautiful islands and dive sites in Japan.

Spot 1: Amami Islands—where you can see beautiful coral islands

Spot 1: Amami Islands—where you can see beautiful coral islands

Imagine—Sun beating down on pristine beaches and clear, warm waters that sparkle different hues of blue, flora and fauna that wave merrily in the breeze, and an abundance of aquatic life that can be seen when you explore the ocean depths.

Welcome to the Amami Islands, an archipelago in the Kagoshima Prefecture. Here, you can dive into endless coral reefs near large, beautiful remote islands in this ocean that is a UNESCO Natural Heritage.

Teeming with unspoiled beaches and mangrove forests, Amami is the second-largest remote island in Japan. It sits between Kyūshū and Okinawa and is one of the Satsunan Islands. To the east, you can see the Pacific Ocean, and to the west is the East China Sea.

Amami Island is of volcanic origin. Its highest peak is Mount Yuwanda, standing 605 meters above sea level. A coral reef surrounds the coast of the island, making it the perfect place to snorkel, dive, and explore marine life beneath the surface.

JAL package details for Amami Islands

Dreaming of diving beneath the waters of this UNESCO Natural Heritage Diving Site? Here are the inclusions, costs, what you can see, and everything else you need to know before diving in Amami Islands.

Destination: Amami Islands
Recommended season for this package: All year round
Duration: 2 days
Type of experience: Scuba diving, beaches, outdoors
Travel style: “Private Diving” plan. You and your group will have your own transport and English-speaking private guide to assist you.
Difficulty level: ★★☆ (For intermediate divers)
Age requirement: 12+ years
Trip type: Ideal for healthy/fit certified divers. Please note that you will need to provide your certification card from your dive training organization. This includes information on your past experience (i.e., dive tank numbers), and your last diving date. You will also need to fill out a health questionnaire prior to diving.
Cost:
 ・1 person - about USD 2,800
 ・2 persons - about USD 3,500
 ・3 persons (1 single room + 1 twin room) - about USD 4,200
 ・3 persons (3 single rooms) - about USD 4,208.76
 ・4 persons - about USD 4,800
 ・5 persons - about USD 5,100
 ・6 persons - about USD 5,700
 Please note that the prices are subject to change without prior notice.
・Package Inclusions:
 ・Diving activity (2 days, 4 tank dives)
 ・Private guide fee
 ・Lunch
 ・Private transfer
 ・Insurance
 ・Accommodations
Meeting Point: Lobby of hotel in Amami Island
Access: Private car/van pick up (about 30 minutes to dive destination)
Accommodations: Amami Resort Thida Moon (or same standard level hotel)
What you can see:
 All year round:
 ・Variety of nudibranch
 ・Variety of shrimps and crabs
 ・Variety of macro marine life
 ・Variety of sharks
 ・A large school of fishes
 ・Giant cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus)
Items to bring:
 ・Clothing for outdoor activities to suit the season
 ・Casual shoes
 ・Comfortable clothing
 ・Rain gear
 ・Sunscreen
 ・Sunglasses
Important notes:
 ・After your request for this package has been placed, a confirmation email will be sent to you within three (3) business days. The diving company will email you the details directly.
 ・Under any circumstance where your request is unable to be booked, you are entitled to a full refund of the cost of the activity.

Explore the charming underwater vistas and marine life in Amami Islands

Explore the charming underwater vistas and marine life in Amami Islands

Amami Oshima, Tokunoshima, Okinoerabu, and Yoronto are four of the many islands in the Amami Islands archipelago. Each of these islands features stunning natural landscapes and beautiful ocean views for diving and exploring. Nevertheless, Amami as a dive destination is often overlooked in favor of Okinawa, an island that is further south and more known for its tropical climate.

Amami, however, with its blue sea, colorful corals, and abundance of marine life, has many charms of its own. When you take a chance and dive, you’ll get to see thousands of different sea creatures. One of the most popular species is fragile cardinalfish, living in sheltered lagoons and bays. You can see shrimps, starfish, and other sea creatures up close in their hiding places under ledges and rocks.

Diving beneath the surface also lets you see unique underwater vistas. In some dive sites, you will find rocks and corals that stand alone, surrounded by white sand that stretches for miles and miles. Places like these are ideal habitats for marine life, and divers can lie on the sand and take enough photos to their heart’s content.

On the island of Tokunoshima, swimming turtles and singing whales are the main events of the subtropical seas. If you want to spot migrating dolphins and whales as well as see the numerous kinds of reef fish and turtles, hop on a boat and visit Okinoerabu. Macro divers can also see the sea slugs, sea snakes, sea cucumbers, and sometimes stingrays and reef sharks. Yoronto, a tiny place with quaint villages and sugar cane farms, has a famous beach—Yurigahama—where you can see star-shaped sand due to dead plankton and pieces of coral that look like stars.

Aside from diving, there is also an abundance of other activities for you to do in these beautiful islands. Between trekking, hiking, swimming, and snorkeling, there is much to do and see in the Amami archipelago.

Explore Amami Oshima Island with its lush forests and beautiful beaches

Explore Amami Oshima Island with its lush forests and beautiful beaches

The largest of the islands in the Amami archipelago is Amami Oshima. It is an island filled with lush forests, rare flora and fauna, beautiful beaches, and a lot more breathtaking sights worth seeing. Amami Oshima is also famous for its delicious cuisine and rich history. Aside from diving to see the abundant marine life surrounding the shores, you can also explore the island itself. Take a guided tour through Kinsakubaru, a subtropical evergreen forest. Keep your eyes open, as you are sure to encounter different types of plants, such as the gigantic Flying Spider-Monkey Tree Ferns. Amami Oshima also offers a variety of tourist attractions, including kayaking through the Kuroshio-no-Mori Mangrove Park or swimming and snorkeling along the white-sand beaches.

Go on a peaceful getaway to Kikaijima Island (Kikai Island) and Kakeromajima Island

Go on a peaceful getaway to Kikaijima Island (Kikai Island) and Kakeromajima Island

Are you looking for a peaceful vacation at a place surrounded by enchanting waters and relaxing sights? Kikaijima Island and Kakeromajima Island, two of the smaller islands of the Amami archipelago, are the best places to be. With their quaint villages, pristine beaches, and stunning nature spots, they are the ideal vacation spots for people looking to escape from the noise of city life.

Explore Kikaijima Island through its walking tours that take you through ancient settlements with walls made from exposed corals. Swim and snorkel in Kakeromajima Island while checking out Saneku Beach, where the shades of blue waters are called the “Saneku blue.”

Surf and swim in the unspoiled beaches of Yoronjima Island and Okinoerabujima Island

Surf and swim in the unspoiled beaches of Yoronjima Island and Okinoerabujima Island

Experience a different kind of getaway when you visit Yoronjima Island and Okinoerabujima Island. These two unspoiled island destinations sit at the southern end of Kagoshima Prefecture. They are the perfect vacation spots for outdoor enthusiasts who love swimming, snorkeling, and exploring cultures.

Near O-kaneku Beach on Yoronjima Island is a pristine white sandbar called, Yurigahama. This sandbar appears only at low tide or middle tide between March and October. It is sometimes called the “Phantom Beach,” and you can walk to the sandbar when the tide reveals it. You can also see various attractions on Yoronjima Island, including castles, shrines, and limestone caves.

Swim with the sea turtles in Tokunoshima Island

Swim with the sea turtles in Tokunoshima Island

Between Amami Oshima Island and Okinawa Island lies another unspoiled gem—Tokunoshima Island. Together with Amami Oshima, Tokunoshima has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its unique and well-preserved natural and cultural environment.

Tokunoshima’s beaches with pristine sands and sparkling waters are largely due to the island’s sub-tropical weather. Beyond the beaches, there is still a lot more to explore. Visit the Innojofuta Park and admire the stunning view of the blue surf and sky. Check out Inutabu Cape and view the local birds as well as the local coastline and the sea. Swim and snorkel among the sea turtles in Unbuki Underwater Cave and Senma Coast.

How to get to Amami Islands

With the JAL Japan Explorer Pass, it’s easy to get to far-off destinations like Amami Islands. If you’re arriving from Tokyo, travel time to Amami Airport is a little over two hours. For those flying in from Osaka, travel time is a little over an hour.

Spot 2: Yakushima—where you can see an abundance of underwater life and various sea creatures

Spot 2: Yakushima—where you can see an abundance of underwater life and various sea creatures

Yakushima is another subtropical island belonging to the Kagoshima Prefecture. It is famous for its lush green forests, beautiful hiking trails, and heavy rainfall, which happens almost the whole year-round. Diving in Yakushima's waters will let you feast your eyes on many wonderful sights. Expect to see a variety of ocean creatures as the sea of Yakushima is famous for having the largest number of fish species in Japan. Visitors from all over the world flock to see this island with its sparkling blue waters and wonderful, untouched nature.

In 1993, the water flowing from the forest of Yakushima was registered as Japan’s first World Natural Heritage Site. This same water collides with the Kuroshio Current, a warm current flowing to the north. Kuroshio Current is responsible for making the waters of Japan the home to more than 950 different species of marine life.

Most of Yakushima Island is within the border of the Kirishima-Yaku National Park. In 1980, a large area of this park was designated as a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve. Since then, many visitors flock to visit the island each year to walk under the canopy of leaves, dive under the calm waves, and see the unspoiled, natural beauty of Yakushima for themselves.

Yakushima is also the home of as many as six mountain peaks, all over 1,800 meters high, including the highest mountain—Kyushu Miyanoura-dake. These mountains standing tall around the island have given Yakushima its nickname—the Alps of the ocean.

JAL package details for Yakushima

With its unspoiled beaches, sparkling clear waters, and natural beauty, Yakushima is a hidden gem for tourists who love the outdoors and divers who want to see what lies underneath the waves. Here is everything you need to know before going on a diving trip to Yakushima, including costs, package inclusions, what to see, and other information.

Destination: Yakushima
Recommended season for this package: All year round
Duration: 3 days (2 days diving)
Type of experience: Scuba diving, beaches, outdoors
Travel style: “Private Diving” plan. You and your group will have your own transport and English-speaking private guide to assist you.
Difficulty level: ★☆☆ (For beginners)
Age requirement: 12+ years
Trip type: Ideal for healthy/fit certified divers. Please note that you will need to provide your certification card from your dive training organization. This includes information on your past experience (i.e., dive tank numbers), and your last diving date. You will also need to fill out a health questionnaire prior to diving.
Cost:
 ・1 person - about USD 3,800
 ・2 persons - about USD 5,000
 ・3 persons (1 single room + 1 twin room) - about USD 4,900
 ・3 persons (3 single rooms) - about USD 4,900
 ・4 persons - about USD 7,300
 ・5 persons - about USD 6,300
 ・6 persons - about USD 7,000
 Please note that the prices are subject to change without prior notice.
Package Inclusions:
 ・Ferry fee
 ・Diving activity (2 days, 4 tank dives)
 ・Private guide fee
 ・Breakfast
 ・Lunch
 ・Private transfer
 ・Accommodations
Meeting Point: Kagoshima Airport: Arrival lobby  (Lobby of hotel in Yakushima?)
Access: Private car/van pick up + ferry (about 2.5 hours to dive destination)
Accommodations: The Hotel Yakushima Ocean & Forest (or same standard level hotel)
What you can see:
 All year round:
 ・Variety of nudibranch
 ・Variety of shrimps and crabs
 ・Variety of tropical marine animals
 ・Giant cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus)
 ・Spotted garden eel (Heteroconger hassi)
 ・Orange-striped shrimpgoby (Stonogobiops yasha)
 ・Napoleon fish (Cheilinus undulatus)
 ・Squarespot anthias (Pseudanthias pleurotaenia)
 ・Sailfin queen (Pseudanthias pascalus)
 ・Pink basslet (Pseudanthias hypselosoma)
 ・Redeye goby (Bryaninops natans)
 ・Ribbon eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita)
 ・Leaf scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus)
 ・Electric clam (Ctenoides ales)
 ・Bluefin trevally (Caranx melampygus)
 ・Giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis)
  ・Whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus)
 ・Whitecap shrimpgoby (Lotilia klausewitzi)
 ・Zebra barred dartfish (Ptereleotris zebra)
 ・Emperor angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)
 ・Mandarin (Synchiropus splendidus)
 ・Blackin dartfish (Ptereleotris evides)
 ・Blackfin coralgoby (Paragobiodon laucnicolus)
 From end of May to end of July:
 ・Sea turtles spawning on the beaches
 ・Variety of tropical marine animals
Items to bring:
 ・Clothing for outdoor activities to suit the season
 ・Casual shoes
 ・Comfortable clothing
 ・Rain gear
 ・Sunscreen
 ・Sunglasses
Important notes:
 ・After your request for this package has been placed, a confirmation email will be sent to you within three (3) business days. The diving company will email you the details directly.
 ・Under any circumstance where your request is unable to be booked, you are entitled to a full refund of the cost of the activity.

Dive beneath the waves of Yakushima and see the stunning underwater sights

Dive beneath the waves of Yakushima and see the stunning underwater sights

With the Kuroshio Current flowing close to Yakushima, winters on this island are considerably milder as compared to mainland Kagoshima. The current also brings in various sea creatures and allows coral to flourish in this part of the world. Take a dive and see the greatest variety of sea life in Japan that has made their home on this little, round-shaped island. While some of the sea creatures can only be seen during certain months of a year, others can be seen the whole year-round.

Both novice and seasoned divers can enjoy underwater sights. If you have diving qualifications, you can opt to dive from the shore or go on a boat out to sea. If you enjoy fishing, you can try your hand at catching flying fish and mackerel. These are the main catches on Yakushima.

To the north of Yakushima lies Isso, where you can dive on both the east and west points of Cape Yahazu. In Kurio, located in the southwestern part of Yakushima, you will find the Yakushima Youth Travel Village and Tsukazaki Tide Pool. See a wide variety of corals and different fish species when you dive in these waters.

See the cedar forests with some of Japan’s oldest living trees

See the cedar forests with some of Japan’s oldest living trees

Several tourists come to the island for activities other than diving. Some of them like to hike through the forests in Yakushima, especially the cedar forest that contains some of the oldest living trees in Japan. When you go hiking through these forests, you may be able to spot some of the trees that are more than a thousand years old. These are fondly called yakasugi (which combines Yakushima and sugi, the Japanese word for cedar) by the locals. The oldest tree—and one of Yakushima’s main attractions—is the Jomonsugi, a giant cedar tree estimated to be about 2,000-7,000 years old. While it does not stand very tall, its massive trunk is an impressive five meters in diameter.

During the Edo Period, the cedar trees were logged for the production of cedar shingles. Nevertheless, the forests have recovered, and cedars grow in abundance today, with some of the areas declared as UNESCO Natural World Heritage sites. Aside from the Jomonsugi, you can see Yakuhsima’s other famous trees. These include the Meotosugi (a couple of trees embracing each other), the Daiosugi (one of the largest trees on the island), and more.

Hike through the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine

Hike through the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine

The Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine is a nature park that contains some of Yakushima’s most ancient cedar trees, including the Nidaiosugi, the Kugurisugi, and the Yayoisugi. Shiratani Unsuikyo is a popular destination for a lot of tourists as its hiking trails are well-maintained and not too strenuous. The trails vary in length from one to five hours long, but you can always choose your own route among the paths.

One of the most popular attractions in Shiratani Unsuikyo is a part of the forest that became the inspiration for the Studio Ghibli animated film Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke).

Catch a glimpse of various creatures and beautiful nature spots

Catch a glimpse of various creatures and beautiful nature spots

Yakushima is a place where you can immerse yourself in nature, including the water, sky, woods, river, and ocean.

Yakushima is also the home to various kinds of land creatures, as well as sea creatures. If you hike or drive around the island and nature parks and forests, you’ll most likely be able to spot animals unique to Yakushima, such as the Yaku monkey and Yaku deer. In June and July, you can watch the sea turtles come to the northwest and southwest shores to lay their eggs.

There are also a few hot springs around the island, such as the coastal baths of Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen. Formed from ocean rocks, these hot spring pools are a mere few inches from the sea. It’s important to check the tide before you go down, as the place becomes completely engulfed by ocean waves during high tide. Most of the bathing areas only become available for a few hours in the evening.

Yakushima also has an abundance of waterfalls. On the west side of Yakushima is the Okonotaki Waterfall, considered one of Japan’s 100 best waterfalls. While you can't swim in the falls, you can enjoy the cool spray from the falls, especially during the summer.

Senpironotaki Waterfall is another of Yakushima’s larger waterfalls, located near the southern part of the island. You can hike to it or sea kayak up a narrow inlet to get a closer view. Other popular and accessible waterfalls include the Torokinotaki Falls and the Janokuchi Falls.

How to get to Yakushima Island

The JAL Japan Explorer Pass makes it easy for you to reach far-off destinations and less-traveled paths, like Yakushima Island. From Tokyo, the flight to Kagoshima Airport is approximately two hours. When you get to Kagoshima, you can opt to take a 40-minute flight to Yakushima or take a high-speed boat or ferry.

Explore the underwater wonders of Amami and Yakushima

Explore the underwater wonders of Amami and Yakushima

Beneath the sparkling waters of the deep blue seas surrounding the islands of Amama and Yakushima is an abundance of marine life. Dive beneath these waters and explore the treasure troves these UNESCO World Heritage sites have to offer.

Skip the hassle of building your own itinerary and leave the planning to the experts. Book a hassle-free diving package to Amami or Yakushima and discover the natural beauty in these unspoiled islands.

You may book a diving activity by itself or as an addition to a hotel + flight package or hotel reservation. We offer diving activities in select cities (Hokkaido, Sapporo, Tokyo, Osaka, Wakayama, Kagoshima, Amami Oshima, Okinawa) Please choose either a flight destination or a hotel in these cities to see diving tour options.

Getting There