By Joshua Zimmerman
When traveling throughout Asia you’ll no doubt see a lot of beautiful temples, landscapes and wildlife. However, you’re probably missing out on the some of the most interesting sights that lie just a few meters below the waves.
Learning how to dive is surprisingly simple and cheap. You can get your diving license just about anywhere there is diving. This includes Japan. Throughout Asia, the set rate for a beginner course in diving is around $300 USD. This usually includes all equipment rentals as well as 4 skill dives, but it’s best to contact the dive shop to find out the local rates. The course takes around 4 days and afterwards you can use your license anywhere in the world.
Once you have a license, the oceans are yours for the taking. Living in Japan gives you access to some of the best diving locations in the world, as well as some of the cheapest. Below are some of the places I’ve been to during the past year.
Japan: One of the more expensive places to dive in Asia, but it’s also the most convenient for us. There are a large number of dive shops in Hiroshima Prefecture that offer weekend trips around Japan as well as longer trips to Okinawa and the rest of Asia. Okinawa has some world class diving, as well as many dive shops that speak English. I recommend Kashiwajima Island in Kochi for its beautiful ribbon eels. To find a dive shop in your area try a quick google search, or ask a JTE for help.
Thailand: A lot of people end up learning how to dive in Thailand. While the diving in Thailand does get crowded, it is completely geared-up for foreigners, as well as being very cheap. It’s very easy to add a diving course to your vacation package. I recommend Koh Tao Island for a relaxing getaway and numerous foreigner- friendly places to learn.
Fiji: Many divers will tell you that Fiji has the best diving in the world (trust me on this: divers love to brag about where they’ve been). They may be right. There are hundreds of islands with thousands of dive sites for you to pick from. With world class coral and year round diving, Fiji is tough to beat for a dive location. Plus you’re guaranteed to see sharks almost everywhere you go. With so many great locations it’s tough to recommend only one single spot. I recommend doing heavy research and finding a location that suits your needs. The only problem with Fiji is the price of air tickets, due to its rather remote location.
Philippines: With over 1,000 islands, it’s no wonder that diving is a main staple of the Philippines’ tourism industry. The dive sites range from whale shark watching to vast coral reefs. The Philippines is well known for its large variety of shipwrecks. One popular location is Subic Bay near Manila. There you can see the remains of the USS New York, scuttled when the US fled during WWII. If you can get to Busuanga, you can dive the remains of a Japanese supply fleet sunk at the end of WWII, as well as search out the elusive dugong, a manatee-like marine mammal. I recommend Bohol Island. Not only is the location known for its wonderful diving, but there are plenty of sites to explore and activities to do out of the water as well.
Diving is a hobby that you can do both while living in Japan and traveling throughout Asia, as well as a hobby you can use when you return home. It’s safe, easy and will always impress a date. You might as well give it a try during travels to some of the top locations in the world.
If you’re interested in diving tips as well as diving information, Japanese dive shops, photos and links, please visit my blog at joshuazimmerman.com, or feel free to email me.