One of the main attractions of Ishigaki island is the beautiful coral reef. The island has numerous dive sites within a short boat range and there are a lot of companies that offer diving off the island.
Our group was a mixed bag of experience levels with diving. I am not a certified diver, but I have been diving before. One of my friends had never been diving before and the other has an advanced open water certification.
When we started looking for a diving company, we knew we wanted a company that had English speaking instructors. Even though we could get by in Japanese with our speaking ability we wanted to be sure there was no communication errors for my friend that had never been scuba diving before.
Only looking for English speaking dive companies really limited our choices on Ishigaki. However, we did find an English speaking PADI certified company in PRIME scuba.
Enough good things can not be said about this company. Firstly they came to Kabira to pick us up and drop us off free of charge, A 30-minute one-way drive. They were also very communicative and quick with emails and booking. They were willing to accommodate our group so that we could dive together despite our difference in experience levels. The boat and equipment were well organized, clean, and in good working order. Lastly, there was almost a 1 to 1 staff member to diver ratio on our boat. Seriously impressive.
The first dive site we went to was called, “The Big Arch.”
I’m sure you can see why.
At this spot my friend and I, who were taking the discover scuba course, did a basic skills lesson and a short shallow dive with an instructor. Our other friend with more experience joined the free dive divers and explored a little more.
The second dive we went to was Manta Point. Manta Point is the most famous place in Ishigaki and the major attraction for serious divers. Here there are cleaner fish in the coral and the mantas come to get cleaned by the cleaner fish. If we were lucky we’d get to see mantas, but it might not happen since it was technically the off-season for them.
On Ishigaki they have a policy that divers at manta point are allowed to swim freely but once a manta shows up divers must descend to the coral grab it and stay in the same spot watching the mantas without moving. They ask divers to do this so that the mantas continue to come back and don’t get driven off by the divers disturbing their spot.
Katie and I were still beginners at diving which means we should descend slowly to make sure we were equalizing our ears properly. When we got into the water right away there was a manta swimming in the vicinity around us. We had to descend super quickly in order to not scare him off.
Once we were on the coral watching him circle above us. He turned around started swimming straight for us. I couldn’t believe how massive he was. We sat there as he swam directly above us a few times and then swam off.
It was pretty cool.
We took a bunch of photos underwater and quickly realized we’d never be underwater models… My friend Katie looks possessed and I seriously look like a zombie. I’m surprised the fish didn’t run away from us in terror with those faces.
After the second dive, we had an option for a 3rd dive or to stay on the boat and save some money. We opted to stay on the boat. This resulted in our fourth nap of the trip and our first mistake with sunscreen. Epic sunburns all around for everyone. The biggest sin of any beach vacation. Oops.