Snorkeling the Okinawan Coast

Japan is more than big cities and deep culture; the coastline is beyond breathtaking. We visited Okinawa, a small island a short plane ride from mainland, and it was another example of the variation of experiences to be had in the country.

We are avid snorkelers; we’ve explored reefs in Mexico, Key West, the Bahamas, Hawaii…and now the East China Sea. Since we were in a foreign country with a variances of sea life we new nothing about, we went on a guided tour.

My sister-in-law served as our translator, since our instructor did not speak English. This is something to really keep in mind when doing any type of activity abroad; some places won’t let you participate if  you do not have means of translation.

For the first time ever, we were required to wear a wet suit when snorkeling. First of all, the water was quite frigid, even though it was May. Secondly, we really had no clue what kind of sea creatures or ocean Foliage would brush against our bodies. So I was highly grateful for the extra protection.

We had to descend down a steep staircase over a rocky hillside before reaching the water below, which was also encapsulated by massive rock walls and reefs. We carefully slipped on our flippers and goggles, then kicked off the stone into immediately deep waters.

In every place I’ve snorkeled, the water has never been the same. In Maui, we experienced a navy, creepily dark blue color, while Mexico offered light turquoise, crystal water. In Japan, we were immersed in royal blue, crisp hue, while the colors sometimes faded into an intense aqua.

Deep gorges and reef set 20-30 feet below us, and we could see groups of scuba divers moving about the floor.

During the first few minutes, we mostly saw schools of fish dancings quite a ways from us, then we emerged in an unworldy cave where we had a few photo ops. Our guide carried a water proof camera for us, and did a fantastic job nabbing plenty of Instagram worthy pics.

After posing in the cave and swimming a couple of laps, we were guided to an open area, loaded with tropical fish eager to say hello. They were everywhere, painlessly nipping at our fingers. It was a magical, Little Mermaid like experience to be surrounded by colors of yellow, blue and green. While the cave was a highlight, the interaction with these fish trumped every part of the tour.

While completely incredible, it ended way too soon. Before we new it, our hour was up and we were approaching our starting point. But snorkeling has always been that way for me, I could go for hours and it only feel like mere minutes. I’ve gotten some pretty awful butt sunburn because I floated face first in the waters of Mexico so entranced, I didn’t realize I was frying. I was totally captivated by the reef below.

Snorkeling is something I will always do as long as the opportunity is there; it’s generally safe, easy, and provides the most relaxing way to experience the ocean.

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