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Beaches -- Okinawa, with a swimming season that runs from about March through October, has a huge variety of white sandy beaches, most with gentle slopes. Most accessible is Naminoue Beach, located right in Naha (bus no. 5 or 15 to Seibumon stop), but there are prettier beaches outside the city, especially to the north. Some are public beaches and some are resort beaches open to the public; many also have coral reefs popular with snorkelers. Some charge small fees. Favorites include Okuma Beach, Emerald Beach (in Ocean Expo Park), Manza Beach, White Beach, Ikei Beach (on Ikei Island), Busena Beach (popular for its watersports like windsurfing) and beaches on outlying islands like Ie Island, Minna Island, Izena Island, and Iheya Island. Ask the tourist office for bus and ferry information.

Diving & Snorkeling -- Due to its crystal-clear waters and coral reefs teeming with marine life, Okinawa is a diving mecca year-round, with Maeda Point the most popular dive spot on Okinawa Island. There are numerous dive shops offering instruction in English for everything from certification courses to taiken diving (experience dives for uncertified divers) to guided dives for those already certified. Dive Okinawa has seven shops, including one in Naha at 2-3-13 Minato-machi (tel. 0120/10-2743; www.dive-okinawa.com), and offers a variety of options, including an all-day trip to the Kerama Islands, considered one of the premier dive spots in the world. Snorkeling trips start at ¥7,350 and two dives cost ¥16,800. Reef Encounters International, 1-273 Miyagi, in Chatan (tel. 098/936-8539; www.reefencounters.org) offers diving around Okinawa Island, to the Kerama Islands, and to islands farther afield, as well as night diving. A half-day of beach diving or snorkeling costs ¥9,800. Note: Dangerous sea creatures include the box jellyfish, lionfish, the crown-of-thorns starfish, and the Erabu black-banded sea krait.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.