Ryukyu Islands to Okinawa Diving Paradise

The Ryukyu Islands, also known as the Nansei Islands are a chain of Japanese islands that stretch southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan.


The first traces of population on the islands are from the hunter-gatherer period. As the agriculture started about the 12th century, and the population center moved from the seashore to higher places. This period is called the Gusuku period. Gusuku is the term used for the distinctive Ryukyuan form of castles or fortresses. Many gusukus and related cultural remains in the Ryukyu Islands have been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. 

Uchinaa (沖縄), Okinawa in Okinawan, is originally a native name for the largest island in the island chain. The Japanese map series known as the Ryukyu Kuniezu lists the island as Wokinaha Shima (悪鬼納嶋) in 1644 and Okinawa Shima (沖縄嶋) after 1702. The name Okinawa Shima was chosen by the Meiji government for the new prefecture when they annexed the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1879.

In 1609, the Japanese domain of Satsuma launched an invasion of the Ryukyu Kingdom, ultimately capturing the king and his capital after a long struggle. Ryukyu was forced to cede the Amami Islands and become a vassal of Satsuma. The kingdom became both a tributary of China and a tributary of Japan.

In 1879, Japan annexed the entire Ryukyu archipelago. The Meiji government then established Okinawa Prefecture. The monarchy in Shuri was abolished, and the deposed King Sho tai was forced to relocate to Tokyo. Hostility against Japan increased in the islands immediately after the annexation, in part because of the systematic attempt on the part of Japan to eliminate Ryukyuan culture, including the language, religion, and cultural practices.

Okinawa Island had the bloodiest ground battle of the Pacific War from April 1 to June 22, 1945. During this 82-day-long battle, about 95,000 Imperial Japanese Army troops and 20,195 Americans were killed. The Cornerstone of Peace at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman lists 149,193 persons from Okinawa – approximately one quarter of the civilian population – were either killed or committed suicide during the Battle of Okinawa and the Pacific War.

 The remaining Ryukyu Islands were returned to Japan on June 17, 1971 . America kept numerous U.S. military bases on the islands. There are 32 United States military bases on Okinawa Island [14] in accordance with the U.S.-Japan alliance since 1951. U.S. bases on Okinawa played critical roles in the Korean War, Vietnam War, War in Afghanistan, and Iraq War.

In 2013, following escalating tensions following competing claims to the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, the People’s Republic of China began laying claims to the island of Okinawa. On 31 October 2019, the main courtyard structures of Shurijo were destroyed in a fire. It marked the fifth time that Shurijo was destroyed following previous incidents in 1453, 1660, 1709 and 1945.

Climate and Geography

The island has a humid subtropical climate bordering on a tropical rainforest climate. The island supports a dense northern forest and a rainy season occurring in the late spring. During the winter season you can expect cold wind coming from the north (December to March), during the spring time until the top of summer (March to June) be ready for the rain season and during the summer (July to late September) we might be ready and expect the typhoons hitting hard.

Okinawa is the fifth largest island of Japan. The straight-line distance is about 106.6 kilometers (66.2 mi) from north to south. Okinawa is in the northeastern end of Okinawa Prefecture.

It is roughly 640 kilometres (400 mi) south of the main island of Kyushu. Okinawa is connected to nearby islands near a land bridge: Katsuren Peninsula is connected via the Mid-Sea Road to Henza Island, Miyagi Island, Ikei Island, and Hamahiga Island. Similarly, from the Motobu Peninsula on the northwestern side, all of Sesoko-jima plus Yagaji Island and Kōri-jima are connected by bridges. Okinawa Island has several beaches such as Manza Beach, Emerald Beach, Okuma Beach, Zanpa Beach, Moon Beach and Sunset Beach (Chatan-cho). Mount Omoto, at 525.5 m (1,724 ft), is the highest mountain in Okinawa, with Mount Yonaha being the second highest.

The Motobu Peninsula in the north has limestone layers and karst development. In the center and south is mainly a Ryukyu limestone layer and mudstone. The topography is flat, there are few hills over 100 m (328 ft) with very few rivers. The subtropical rains accelerates erosion so there are many drainages and uvala. The southern end of the island consists of uplifted coral reef, whereas the northern half has proportionally more igneous rock. The easily eroded limestone of the south has many caves, the most famous of which is Gyokusendō in Nanjō. The northernmost Cape Hedo is only 22 km away from Yoronjima. Cape Arasaki is the southernmost location of Okinawa island. It is sometimes confused with Cape Kiyanmisaki.

Scuba Dive Destination

The Ryukyus keep attracting tourist and diver from all over the world. Due its subtropical environment, defined season, warm and clean water, healthy coral reef and variety of marine life, Okinawa is definitely the best place to dive in Japan and the only spot to dive on wetsuit all year around!

The water temperature is quite stable, in the summer tops 29C while the winter drops to maximum 21C, never colder. Perfect environment so the coral reef can grow and turn the ocean of Okinawa one of the most extraordinary places in the world.

The variety of marine life follows the 4 season. From the tinny little and colorful nudibranch and frogfish on winter season, green turtles, hawksbill turtle, white tip reef sharks, Giant Trevally and Cuttlefish during spring and summer and the beautiful octopus and autumn. We also can spot the big ones in the island, Eagle Rays, Mantas, Hammerhead Shark and even Humpback Whales cross this water every year.

Due its mix of incredible marine life and exceptional volcanic formations makes Okinawa a perfect spot for a dive adventure and take amazing photos. Okinawa hides numerous caves, crevices, swimming throughs, dramatic landscapes and as we used to say. Okinawa never let you down!!! Join our daily adventure on this extraordinary diving paradise!!

Diver´s 7 Okinawa is a full PADI 5 Star dive resort and we offer services in English, Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese. Our team of professional instructors are highly prepared and trained to offer you the best experience in Okinawa. From training course or guided dives, Diver´s 7 Okinawa never let you down!!

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