This journal is strictly my perspective. It is meant to be a way to document my diving while here in Japan.
We arrived in Japan at the end of July. Because of logistics and work schedule, I have not gotten to do much diving. So, as part of this journal I wanted to add a few things I have learned about Japan since arriving.
To tell you the truth, before coming to Japan it had never been on my list of places to visit. Now, I am so glad I did it and would not change it for anything. Before we arrived we did a lot of on-line research, the problem is, there is not a lot of up to date information.
Before traveling to Japan there are a few things you should know. Knowing is half the battle after all. There are many misconceptions about Japan. Many things you will only understand once you are here. A few things to remember are:
- The Japanese culture is a polite culture. They will go out of their way to help you.
- Many speak English, at least a little.
- May signs have English on them: Mass Transit, road signs, even some billboards.
- Most restaurants have English menus, you just need to ask.
- There are no substitutions or special orders in restaurants. You get what is on the menu or you can order something else.
- When walking it is rude to do anything else: No eating, drinking, smoking, texting, or talking on the phone.
- There are no trashcans on the streets. If you have trash, you will have to carry it back to your domicile. Near, vending machines there is usually a trash can. See previous item.
A Note About Diving: There are a few thing one should understand before diving the Izu Peninsula and most likely, anyplace in Japan. There are facilities at most, if not all dive sites. They provide a range of services, which will be addressed. The facilities at the dive site are just that, facilities, not stores. Some rent gear but for the most part do not sale any. They are there to facilitate diving and cater to dive instructors and shops. Some have instructors on staff but not all. There are facility fees, which are well worth it. Tanks are provided and bringing your own, is not an option. Sometimes there is a rental fee for weights. All dives must be done with a dive professional. There are no exceptions, at least as far as I have found so far. Hot tubes are very common at dive facilities. Since the nitrogen exposure is fairly low there seems to be no issues.
14 Oct 2017
Facility: Kumomi Seaside House. The facilty provides changing room, showers, hot water for tea or whatever, gear rental, rinse tanks, gear drying area, as well as hot tubes.
Type: Boat. The boats are like a taxi service. You have a designated time to board, the boat then drops off the divers and picks ups the ones on the surface. You have to be at the drop off buoy or you may not be picked up. Divers do a roll back to enter the water. These boats are unique, in that, they have a 4 diver lift on the back. They lower the lift, the divers stand on the platform, fins on and the lift takes them out of the water. The divers then walk onto the boat.
Dive one was a large rock island about 200 meters from the dock. Far enough that you would not want to swim it but close enough you could if you had to. The dive was mostly volcanic rock, and soft corals. Clown fish, angel fish, butterfly fish, file fish, goby, parrot fish, surgeon fish, trigger fish, wrasse.
Dive 2 was along a wall. Better topography then dive one and a lot more life. This area is in the fishing zone and it is obvious. On this dive there was a large net across part of the bottom. (My understand is that, the facilities pay the fishery to use the area and they do not fish it.)
15 Oct 2017
Location: Koganezaki Beach, Izu Peninsula
Facility: Very nice, with lots of tables inside and out for eating or teaching. Large staging area, lots of rinse tanks and drying area. Rental gear, bathrooms, changing and shower rooms. Hot tubes with a great view of Mt. Fuji.
When diving here it is best to have them pick your group up at the public parking lot at the top of the hill. The path/road to the facility is steep, small and hazardous. You can also walk down as well.
Type: Beach. There is only one entry and exit. It has a nice concrete path and handrail. However, once it meets the water is can be slippery.
Dive 1 & 2: Both dive we along a wall type formation. Lots of soft corals and anemones. Lots of juveniles here as well.
This is a great site, I cannot wait to go back in the summer.
12 Nov 2017
Location: San Diego, California
Facility: Marissa Charters. No physical building, just the boat. The web site is great and easy to navigate. If you need rental gear, fill in the on-line form and it will be on the boat when you arrive. They provide good snacks and lunch. On this day, the Captain had made chili, it was perfect for the cool day that it was.
Type: Boat: The boat is set up well and even has a compressor on board. Between dives, you only need to remove your regulator so they can fill the tank. This day was a 3 tank dive. We double dipped on the HMCS YUKON and one on the Ruby E.
Conditions: Water Temp 61-50 degrees, vis: 20-30 feet.
-HMCS YUKON – Depth: ~ 70ft-105ft
-RUBY E WRECK – Depth: ~65ft – 85ft
Both wrecks had nice growth and a good amount of life on them. Penetration would be possible but I did very little since it was my first time on the wrecks and I was solo diving. I was not equipped.
The 7mm suit was good but at the end of each dive I was getting cold. I will be sure to pack my dry suite next time. In the summer it is not as cold, and you can get warm between dives. On this day the sun was not participating.
26 Nov 2017
Location: Misakimachi Jogashima
Facility: Jogashima Dive Center (JDC). The Cente is in a new two story bulding. Upstairs is the classroom, main office/check in area. This is a strictly no shoe area. Leave them at the door, not blocking the door. Down stairs there are changing room, showers, bathrooms,hot water for tea or whatever, and gear rental to include dry suit rental (not a common piece of rental gear) The rinse tanks, gear drying area, hot tubes and a shallow pool is located across the street. Parking is in a paid lot ajacent to the center. Here you can do boat dives and or shore dives. Not much of a shore, there are steps up and over the retaining wall, with a small area for a shore entry. This area is great for training, as it has buoys, shallow and semmi confined. For the boat, the shop loads your gear on a truck and transports to the dock, divers ride about two minutes, in a van. The tanks are marked per group, so you know what tanks are who’s. This is important since many groups do two boart dives and the gear ramainds at the dock. When the group signs in, the dive leader tells the shop how many divers and dives they plan to do.
Type: Boat. The boats are a little different, are two rows of benches that the divers straddle facing the bow. On this day, it was very windy, so the dives were in the area between the island and the mainland. Giant stride off, not a lot of fun with side mount, given the limited space on the boat. Getting back on was also an event. Taking a tank off and handing it up was really the only choice. I will not do side here again.
Conditions: Water Temp 68-62 degrees, vis: 40-50 feet. Max depth around 70ft.
The dive professional here leave a color weight near something of interest. It is common to see small pink or white lead sinks.
17 Dec 2017
Facility: Not a lot. Changing room, with showers. No rental gear. There is a public bathroom, but not part of the facility. Lots of rinse tanks and drying area. Hot tube, which are made form some old boats, very cool. Parking is at a premium here. There is parking in front of the faculty or at the beach area. Still not a lot.
Type: Beach. Dive 1 is a beach type entry with an easy in and out. The reef was active: soft coral, eels, Rockfish to name a few. There were a few good looking Nudibranch. Max depth about 65 feet. Temp 61-63
Dive 2 was more of a pier type entry with stairs and a walkway. It is a bit of a walk from the facility but they have a truck that can transport your gear, if needed. Nice large concrete pad and a bathroom facility. Same type of reef and marine live. Lots of little stuff. Max depth about 65 feet. Temp 61-63.
13-14 Jan 2018
Water Temp 82/Air Temp 88.
Facility: Axe Murder Tours (not excited about the name, but a well run operation) is a full service dive shop. Sales, rental, equipment service, air fills, and instruction. The price for a 2 tank boat dive is $150. Yes, kind of pricey but it includes gear and a guide. Even if you do not use their gear, the price stays the same. If you are only coming for a day or two of diving rental gear is the way to go. All the gear looked well-maintained and good quality. What I saw was: Zeagle Ranger BCD, Aqualung Regulators, Atomic Fins, Aqualung Mask.
Note about the reef. The reef on the Philippines Sea side of Guam is about 80% bleached. The Pacific side is not as bad.
Type: Boat. The boat is docked 10-15 minutes down the road from the shop.
Dive 1: Cocos West. Because of the weather, we went south for almost an hour. The reef here is extremely bleached. Not a lot of living coral here, but you can tell that at one time it was a large reef. Not much life either. The water was very clear, the visibility was 100 feet. Max depth about 50ft.
Dive 2: Pet’s Reef. We came back to the north. This put us to about a 15 minute ride back to the dock after the dive. This reef was a little nicer. More life and more coral, not a lot but still more. We saw a black tip shark, maybe a 7 footer. Hard to tell, it never came very close. Vis was 100ft. Max depth was about 56ft.
Day 2: Dive 1 Toguan Caves. Conditions were not great so we did not enter what is really a swim through. Vis was low as this site is at the mouth of a small river. There was a lot of life and more coral. Lots of Nudibranch. Max depth 55ft. Vis 15-20ft.
Dive 2 Anae Caves. Again low vis but better then the first dive. Max Depth 45ft. Vis 20-30ft.
I do not see Guam as a dive destination. If the reef were not so bleached it would be a great place. However, if you are traveling in region and find yourself on a layover or can plan a few days, Guam is worth the trip. The island is one of the cleanest I have been on, this after being told it was dirty. The mountains have great scenic hikes and the beach views are spectacular. We drove around (literally) the island in a few hours. There are some interesting places and historic sites to see. We will go back, we have to check-out the shore dives. A word of caution: It is not a cheap place, in general things are more expensive then one would think. At the time, gas was over $4 a gallon. Food and drink are also a little more then you would expect. A cup of coffee or even a glass of tea runs around $2.75. Keep in mind that restaurants include a 10% gratuity in the bill since it is not an Asian custom to tip.
1 March 2018
Location: Kwajalein Atoll
Facility: Dive Kwaj/ Kwajalein Dive Club. Diving on Kwaj is not like any other olace you will dive. First to be on the atoll you have to have permission. The atoll is a military base, so you have to be there for work or be sponsored. If you are gong to be on the atoll for any amount of time, it is best to join the club. This gives you unlimited tanks use. Before anyone is allowed to dive, they must first do an orientation dive with a club member. This is a rule of the garrison and assures that everyone who dive here a competent and, hopefully, will not damage the reef. Dive Kwaj is a full service PADI facility with equipment sale, service and rental as well as a full range of PADI classes. Scuba Pro and Aqualung are the main equipment brands they carry. Prices are in line with any dive shop you will find in the States, and if they do not have it, they can order it. Rental gear is all in very good condition.
Type: Beach. Ski Boat Area. There is a small pavilion here with a rinse tank, round picnic table and place to hang up your gear. The entry was a set of stairs up and over the breaker wall. Easy entry and the water was calm and warm. We entered during high tide and the vis was not very good, only 20-30 feet. This dive site is unique in that there is reef, and 2 wreaks that are easily dived in one dive.
The wreaks are Japanese Patrol boats sunk in February 1944 during the battle for Kwajalein, (at least that is my assumption). The coral in the is are, although not very colorful, is in good condition. There are a few places that have storm damage, and bleaching is at a minimum here. Lots of hard coral, some soft and lots juveniles. Did see a few bigger fish, but was told most of the bigger creatures hangout on the wall off shore. It is also not uncommon to see black tip and white tip sharks. They come into the marina area in the morning and later in the day for a free hand out as fishermen are cleaning there catches.
Conditions: Max depth about 45ft with an average of about 30ft Temp 82.
21 March 2018
Water Temp 82/Air Temp 88.
Facility: Gab Gab is on the navy base. The entry area has bathrooms, 6 out door showers for rinsing off your gear and yourself. There is also plenty of shade.
Type: Beach dive. The entry is a set of stairs that lead down to a fairly flat area for putting on fins. The rocks are a little slippery, so reg in mouth
is a good practice.
Dive 1: We swam out about 50 meters before we tied off our flag. On the way out we averaged about 55 feet. The reef slopped down to a much greater depth. The reef here was in better shape and not as bleached. On the way back we averaged about 30 feet. The reef was in much better condition and there was lots of life. Lots of small canyons full of juveniles. Visibility was 100feet.