CONTRIBUTED BY SANDY GIBBONS
If you are like my husband, you gave up bringing the couch to Okinawa because you had to bring your windsurfing gear. It’s all about priorities.
Now you have landed in Okinawa and have been anxiously searching the “the” place to windsurf. Perhaps you have asked the local population or some of your co-workers. Kaichu Doro, a.k.a. The Red Bridge, was probably suggested as the best place to launch your rig. My husband was ecstatic when he got the recommendation about Kaichu Doro from a local.
Kaichu Doro translates to: the road in the middle of the sea. We were happy to discover that it lives up to its stellar reputation as a windsurfing spot. Kaichu Doro may have been constructed to be a park, but windsurfers of all skill levels have fallen in love with it because of its many amenities.
The rest station, Umi No Eki Ayahashikan (Ocean Station), is located on the far end of the bridge with numerous free parking spots. My husband was stoked to find the nice soft grassy areas for rigging and de-rigging. He had no worries about his expensive equipment being scratched by abrasive sand.
I was happy to see the concrete steps that lead into the bay on both sides of the road. I am not known for my coordination and because of the steps, I did not have a crazy balancing act across unstable surfaces. Score! No bruised tailbones!
Additionally, a pedestrian overpass links both sides of the bay. Therefore, when the wind changes direction, as it is prone to do, windsurfers can easily launch from the other side. Finally, the conditions for sailing are usually favorable. The best seasons to sail the Red Bridge are spring, autumn, and winter. The water can be chilly in the winter months and I recommend a full wetsuit. The wind speeds vary and can get up to 35 knots. Photographers love the Red Bridge on clear days. Be sure to rig your most colorful sails, unless you are like me, and spend more time in the water than out.
When we are ready for a break, there is a gift store inside the ship–er, building. The facilities are open year-round from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. My daughter loves any opportunity for Blue Seal and lo and behold, there is a snack bar with a limited selection of Blue Seal. Windsurfing and Blue Seal?! Yes! Make sure to bring yen because dollars are not accepted.
There is also a larger restaurant located in the back of the gift ship–er, shop. Oh, and did I mention the bathrooms? Windsurfing locations are not known for their luxurious amenities such as flushing toliets. Kaichu Doro has flushing toliets! And showers! For both men and women! It’s the simple things in life. However, toilet paper is not usually available so bring a pack of tissues.
Lastly, as with everything in life a bit of common sense is needed. Wear your water shoes and sunscreen. Hydrate. Have a buddy and tell someone where you will be sailing and what time you expect to return. Be careful entering and exiting the water as algae can make the steps slick. Lock your car; the area is safe but does not have a patrol. Finally: have fun and explore our beautiful island! It’s a limited opportunity.
Kaichu Doro can easily be found from any of the bases.
Directions From Kadena: Go to Camp Foster and exit the Sgt. Major Gate (Gate# 1B ). THEN…
Directions From Camp Foster: Exit the Sgt. Major Gate (Gate # 1B).
Continue on 85/81 through the intersection with Hwy 329.
85/81 will become 33. Stay on 33.
Pass the Jusco on your left.
Continue through one more stop light on 33.
At the second stop light 33 intersects with 16.
Turn right onto 16. There will be a Lawsons on the left.
Stop and get potato crouquettes and CC Lemon.
Continue on 16. 16 will intersect/become 10 at a 4 way-intersection.
Stay straight on 10. Do not turn right or left.
Continue till you see The Red Bridge.
You will see groups of kite surfers at the base of the bridge.
Do not stop. The water is too shallow for boards.
Channel Dori and just keep going.
Parking is on the left hand side.