CONTRIBUTED BY EILEEN O’REILLY
Snorkeling Thumbs Up
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a control freak. I freely admit it. I won’t SCUBA because the idea of trusting that…machine…to breathe for me…nope. But I sure do love the fish and reef life here on Okinawa…so what’s a girl to do? Snorkel…where? How? Do I just throw on the gear and flop my way into the ocean at Kadena Marina? Torii Beach? Should I find “the toilet bowl” and ask some divers for help? What about the kids? For the really good snorkeling, don’t you have to drive to Okuma or take the ferry to the Keramas? You hear all kinds of diving locations, but never much about snorkeling. With NO idea where to begin I had kind of given up …so when my good friend and her 6 year old said they had a blast snorkeling I thought…who, where, what, when, and most importantly, how much??!
Turns out she went with Misaki Dive Center in Onna, and really, it doesn’t get much simpler than this. Put on your bathing suit, (you won’t even need full sunscreen b/c of the wetsuits!) and show up. That’s how much planning and work goes into it – this is MY kind of field trip! The process is outlined on his webpage, and works exactly as it advertises. Choose the date and time (he has five slots per day to choose from). Email or call at least a day ahead of time. Within a few hours, you’ll receive an email back confirming your booking and requesting sizes for shoes/wetsuits, etc. The day of the swim, follow the fabulous directions provided on the website (with pictures and all) and show up – from Kadena Gate 3, the time is about 30min to get there.
Everything else is taken care of for you – Aoki-san, the proprietor is incredibly friendly and helpful, and GREAT with kids. He studied in the US, and his English is great, so there’s no translation issues. He brings a really nice underwater camera and will email you the pictures afterwards, as well, so if you don’t have a camera, don’t worry!
The price is Y3500, or if you have 4 or more people, the price drops to Y3300/pp. The trip is about 90min total – You will suit up, get in the boat and ride out to the Blue Cave area. From here, jump on in and snorkel around on your own, or hold onto the raft and be towed – the reef is gorgeous and there are TONS of fish to look at.
You’ll swim/get towed to the entrance to Blue Cave, which is really really cool – because of the structure, the water glows an iridescent blue from the outside sunlight. After some photo ops, you will make your way back outside and Aoki-san will provide you with food for the fish. This is CRAZY because they all know it’s coming so you will be surrounded by some of the prettiest fish you’ve ever seen. They will take the food right out of your hand (recommend wearing the dive gloves – I got nipped a bit – nothing serious, but little ones might not like it). Then it’s back to the boat where Aoki-san has water for you; because you will be thirsty!
All in all, for just under $40, it’s really an awesome adventure for young and old alike! I would recommend bringing snacks or extra yen to stop for a bite after the swim; we were all starving when we got off the boat – no wonder, as snorkeling can burn up to 450 cal/hour!
Hours: Snorkel one of five time frames, 8:30am, 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, 4:30pm
Payment: Yen only
Directions: His website has a great description of how to get there, but Take 58 North. After you get past the Renaissance, but right before SunMarina, you will take a left (see the pictures on the website) and drive right around to the water side of the buildings.