Hokkaido is the northernmost region in Japan with temperatures falling below freezing in winter. This northern land is surrounded by the sea and, with less population than the south, still abounds with natural areas. Diving in Hokkaido offers a variety of unique experiences in both fresh and saltwater environments. Scuba diving in Hokkaido is not for the faint of heart, however, as the water is either cold or frozen, and a dry suit will be needed.
Shiretoko Peninsula is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site where valuable nature remains both underwater and on land. In January, drift ice comes from the Amur River in Russia, giving you the rare opportunity to do sea-based ice drift diving.
Diving in Lake Shikotsuko offers another unique adventure, as this is the clearest lake in all of Japan, with over 50m of visibility. You can see plants blooming underwater and, in the fall, salmon swimming upriver in hordes to spawn.
The Shakotan Peninsula offers some of the most unique diving in Japan where the underwater terrain consists of pentagonal and hexagonal stone pillars called columnar joints, formed by cooling and solidifying magma. Amongst this spectacular ocean topography, you may encounter many marine mammals.
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Wildlife in Hokkaidō
Hokkaido is the best place to go diving with marine mammals in Japan; you can see many dolphins, killer whales, sea lions, and other whales. You will also see a wealth of strangely shaped cold-water sea creatures that you would never get to see in tropical waters. Popular cold-water species include the beautiful lumpfish that start their lives only 1mm in size, growing to many centimeters as adults. Another unique species only seen ice diving in Japan is the Clione, or “sea angel,”a small fascinating translucent, free-swimming sea slug reminiscent of an ice angel. The giant octopus is another exciting encounter while diving in Hokkaido.