CONTRIBUTED BY EMILY ALTIMARI
Although it sounds like a cheesy Vegas bar, Mermaid’s Grotto, located west of Onna Village and south of Cape Manzamo, boasts the best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced, on and off Okinawa. An unmarked drive (shout out Google Maps for getting us there) through sunflower fields off Highway 58 leads to a dead end likely lined with Y plates.
A short trail leads to the beach and the grotto itself, an impressive arc-like rock formation housing beautiful, colorful tide pools. The beach is rocky and harsh; felt booties or other protective footwear is a must. Not a spot for relaxing the seaside with a Mai Tai in hand, Mermaid’s Grotto is for the adventurous looking to admire the blue minutiae of the tide pools, climb onto the rocks and, of course, snorkel and scuba dive.
The colors would make Crayola green with envy. The amount and variety of wildlife are incredible. The waters teem with parrotfish, a smorgasbord of coral and the cast and crew of Finding Dory. There are deep channels, straights, and caves underwater, perfect for scuba exploration, and, as mentioned earlier, there’s a distinct drop-off point, which is equal parts beautiful and terrifying.
The water towards the shore oscillated between being warm like bathwater and freezing cold, but we went out in our swimsuits and were fine.
Address: 4484 Onna, Onna-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa-len 904-0411
GPS Coordinates: 26.4986297, 127.8445772
Directions: Located west of Onna Village and south of Cape Manama, off Highway 58