For scuba divers looking to dive close to the Japanese mainland, the established dive sites off the Izu Peninsula will not disappoint. The peninsula's popular east coast dive sites are very easy to access via train, hop flight or vehicle from Tokyo and Yokohama. There are also trains from Kyoto and Nagoya that make their way down in the peninsula.
Izu Oceanic Park on the eastern coast of Izu Peninsula is not far from Tokyo and a great place to start a Japanese scuba diving adventure. Izu Kaiyo Koen, or Izu Ocean Park (IOP) was the first Japanese dive site officially designated for scuba diving back in 1965. Only a 45-minute bullet train ride from Tokyo, this eastern coast destination offers dives offshore from the hot spring resort town of Atami. This is also a great harbor to catch the ferry to the Izu Islands. The dive sites in the oceanic park reportedly offer great dive conditions year round. The park is great for families and offers salt-water swimming pools, showers and rinse tanks. The rock formations that jut into the water from the beach offer some great dive sites. The dive site known as IOP Beach-Left is the historic dive site that was the first in Japan. It offers a beginners level dive and a lot of marine life. IOP Beach-Right is a more advanced dive site where the bottom tapers down to about 30 meters.
Off the western coast of the Izu Peninsula are other famous dive sites off the small harbor town of Osezaki. The great Mt. Fuji with its snowy peak is visible from Osezaki. To get to the dive sites here you need to tote your gear, sometimes a mile across the black sand, to access the shore dive entry points within Osezaki Bay and just outside the bay as well. Once you get past the surf, the visibility here is known to be consistently good. At 110 feet you enter a zone of healthy reef and marine life decorated with red sea fans and abundant coral. You will most likely spot resident Japanese golden hawkfish, Devil scorpionfish and more Dragon morays. The Sand anemones along the sandy bottom are large and beautiful, often with purple tips.
As you drive down the Izu Peninsula there are popular dive sites such as Futo, a site off the town of Yawatano, famous for Japanese eagle rays. Here you have to carry your gear through a beach in order to access the shore diving. This location can be very popular and crowded especially on Japanese holidays and warm weekends. The good news is that summer water temperatures stay as high as 27 degrees C (or the lower 80 degree F) range. The reef offers lots of marine life such as the tiger cowrie, a tiny fish that mimics the coral polyps. At this location you can see bright yellow and black armored Pinecone fish, gold and white Dragon moray hiding out in crevasses or Clark's anemone fish hanging out in their anemone homes. The coral here is reportedly large and healthy and you can spot rays, Frogfish, Marbled rockfish and Zebra crab among many more inhabitants.
The small island just off the peninsula is called Mikimoto, accessible via a bridge from the mainland located in the Bay of Toba. The waters off Mikimoto offers deep, clear scuba diving, recommended for advanced divers due to the notoriously strong currents. Mikimoto is known as the Pearl Island and offers pearl diving shows by traditional, Japanese, female pearl divers. As mentioned, this area is for advanced divers and is worth a trip down the Izu Peninsula. The dive site is famous for the schooling Hammerhead sharks that frequent the area in the summer months. There is also a pearl diving museum where you learn that the island itself is named after Mikimoto Kokichi, the first person to successfully cultivate pearls back in 1893. The Toba Aquarium is very close to the Pearl Island.
A boat or plane ride away is Hachijo Island, a popular dive destination in the Izu Islands off the Izu Peninsula. 290 kilometers from Tokyo, the island lies along the Japan Current (Kuroshio) and while the waters are still a bit on the chilly side, the current supplies life giving waters that support amazing reefs, marine life, and therefore great scuba diving. There are shore dive sites and boat dive sites around the island. Yaene, Nazumado, Sokodo and Ochiyogahama are all dives accessible from the shores around the island. The great part about Hachijo is that the reef lies just offshore a lot of the island. Water temperatures range from up to 25 degrees C (77 degrees F) in summer months, and down to 18 degrees C (64 degrees F) in winter months. Average visibility is about 50-60 feet. Some notable offshore boat accessible dive sites are Kyokuchouhama off the northeast coast, and Uroune off the southeast coast.
While most divers dive the Izu Peninsula in the summer months, consider diving in the winter with a dry suit. Visibility increases and crowds greatly decrease.
Today (18 May) I had a very bad experience with your company, agency Sunrise Tours I did the 'morning tour' in Tokyo with Kumie guide, car 11. The first stop was the Tokyo Tower, where there is no time to contemplate the view. Kumie did not use microphone and the group were large. Impossible all to hear it. She promissed free time. But that is not true, the time was exactly to run all over the place, we cannot stop. The guide also did not ask if somebody had questions and let us no time to...