Snorkeling Minamionna

CONTRIBUTED BY QUENTIN RICHARDSON

Mina Sea Life 2
Mina Sea Life 2

I read about this location last year and decided to take a co-worker of mine who really enjoys snorkeling. The first time I went to this location, there were mostly divers entering the water and fishermen (at the “first half” discussed later). It wasn’t overloaded with large groups of tourists or locals and is off the beaten path a little. Since most people on island flock to Maeda Point or Maeda Flats, even Kadena Marina for snorkeling, we decided to test this place out with hopes of not running into a lot of people.

Before heading north to this location, as we do with most planned snorkeling trips, we checked the sea condition via Kadena Weather’s website. At first, the report was “ALL CLEAR”, but during the 20 minute ride, it quickly changed to “WEST CAUTION”. Upon entering the first stretch of the area, the water appeared calm. So we decided to park and get in.

Mina Sea Life 1
Mina Sea Life 1

THE FIRST HALF:

Once the road goes from asphalt to dirt track, on the left is a clearing in which divers and fishermen enter the water. I don’t recommend snorkeling here since the water gets VERY shallow in low tide. I’m not sure where the divers go, but there is a nearby island that has a steep drop off next to it, so I’m pretty sure they go there.

Mina Sea Life 3
Mina Sea Life 3

THE SECOND HALF:

Go up about 50 to 100 meters where the dirt road splits around a tree and park here in this clearing. Do not go beyond this point because it is private property owned by the nearby homes. Do not go to the left up the trail with your car unless you want it stuck in the mud (yes, even Jeeps and Delicas won’t make it out). Walk up the muddy trail to the left and cut through the trees to a small shallow beach. There are two ways into the water from this point.

Mina Sea Life 4
Mina Sea Life 4

THE HARD RIGHT (WEST):

This way is troublesome and not worth going to. You don’t see as many fish (unless you are diving) and when you do they are too shy since you can’t remain still. The waves break here pretty rough, and in “CAUTION” combined with a decent water levels, the waves break over the barrier reef pushing you back and forth making it harder swim. If you want to swim in an area like this (resembling Maeda Point closely) drive to Cape Manzamo and turn left before the bathrooms to find Horseshoe Beach.

Mina Sea Life 5
Mina Sea Life 5

THE EASY LEFT (EAST):

Instead, walk or swim the other direction about 20 meters out and turn left. You will see a shallow drop in low tide from ankle high water to about 4 feet deep of calm water. Depending on how rough the seas are, the water will be a bit murky and visiblilty will vary from a few feet to a few yards, nevertheless, the water will still be calm. The best time to come here is earlier in the day when the water level is higher. Here, smaller to medium sized fish are found everywhere and friendly.

If you love damselfish and colorful coral, this location is perfect for you. The water is calm and shallow, even if the waters farther out are crazy, so snorkeling here is easy and safe for smaller children. There are only two things here to be aware of and they are easily avoidable… sea urchins and sharp coral. To make this trip exciting enough to remember, bring a waterproof camera and Vienna sausages. The fish here aren’t as shy and love to eat bits of the sausages. They will come very close to you if you can float , remain as still as possible and slowly feed them (the slower you move the less threatening you appear). There is one deep part of this area that drops about 20 feet down. This is where the medium sized fish are and also schools of the needle-shaped fish.

Mina Sea Life 6
Mina Sea Life 6

Directions:  To get to this location drive north on Highway 58 into Onna village until you reach the intersection of Pref. Route 88 and the Onna Bypass of Highway 58. The quicker alternative is using the Yaka interchange (#7) on the Okinawa Expressway and turning left on to Pref. Route 88. Either way, turn (or continue straight if you used Yaka IC) on to the Bypass of 58 that heads for Cape Manzamo. Just after passing under the pedestrian bridge marked “Minamionna” turn left at the next signal. After you pass the junior high school and another large building, continue straight on the the dirt road. After passing the first clearing approach the tree that splits the trail and park in this clearing, DO NOT BLOCK THE WAY IN OR OUT.

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