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The Japanese archipelago consists of thousands of islands and is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk and the East China Sea. The country's extensive coastline offers countless beaches, many of which offer swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling opportunities.

Where to snorkel

Okinawa Prefecture is Japan's most popular snorkeling destination where snorkelers do not have to go far from the beach or dive in too deep to see the colorful marine life. The water and air temperatures in Okinawa are usually comfortable for snorkeling between May and October, but tougher snorkelers can enjoy the activity year around. Snorkeling destinations in Okinawa include Miyako, Ishigaki, Iriomote, Kume and the Kerama Islands besides the Okinawa Main Island.

A similar season for snorkeling is available in the slightly more northern Amami Islands which belong to Kagoshima Prefecture and on the remote Ogasawara Islands. Further north, snorkeling is mainly limited to the summer months. Destinations include some parts of the Izu Peninsula and the Izu Islands, but marine life tends to be less colorful than further south.

How to snorkel

Snorkeling is generally possible in two ways: independently from beaches or by joining guided snorkeling tours:

At most snorkeling beaches, marine life can be seen without having to swim too far out into the water. Snorkeling equipment is available for rent or sale at some of the more popular beaches or at stores in beach destinations. When snorkeling without a guide, be aware of potential dangers, such as strong currents and dangerous marine life, and avoid snorkeling alone.

Snorkeling tours provide an opportunity to access more remote snorkeling spots that are in deeper waters or impossible to access without a boat. Prices for half day snorkeling tours typically start from around 3500 yen and include all rental equipment. Some companies offer English speaking guides.