OKINAWA

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While stationed in Japan, one easily accessible travel destination is Okinawa. Whether you fly commercially into Naha or take the Patriot Express to Kadena Air Base, getting there is relatively quick, easy and inexpensive.

Okinawa has a similar relaxed vibe to Hawaii, and the main island has many fun activities everyone in your travel group will enjoy.

I recommend renting a car as it will make getting around the island much simpler. Naha has a monorail, but if you want to see other parts of the island, you’ll have to take public buses, which can take time away from enjoying the attractions. Another plus is that driving around does not cost much and the ETC tolls are much cheaper than those on the mainland.

During a recent visit, me and my fiancé found our way to Onna Village’s Cape Maeda, known for its crystal blue water caves.

Onna Village is a short 45-minute toll-free drive away from Kadena. For about 4,500 to 6,500 yen per person, you can try a snorkeling and diving trip with any of the nearby tour operators.

Before our group set off swimming toward the cave, we received a safety briefing at the tour operator office. Then, we geared up with wetsuits, life vests and our snorkeling equipment. For new or weak swimmers, the company offered a floatation device to assist.

After about 15 minutes of attempting to swim but mostly floating to the cave, I remember looking into the very clear blue water and seeing the lead diver swimming under and us taking photos of our experience while a plethora of fish of all shapes and sizes surrounded us. There were other diving and snorkeling groups in the water too, but we had enough space to spread out.

Though I was disappointed that the tour takes you to only one of the many caves at Cape Maeda, the experience was totally worth it.

Before floating back to the dock, we got to feed the fish and take photos with the dozens that surrounded us trying to get a bite.

The full experience was about 2.5 hours long and they provided the pictures using LINE app for free, which was the best souvenir I got, minus some seashells.

The experience for me was an excellent way to experience the beautiful waters off the coast of Okinawa.

Shoutout to the Honorable Master Sergeant Earl Plumlee for teaching me the basics of floating back in Washington.

Things to Know:

Emmi Full Resort: Located near Kadena AB, this condo-style hotel is a 15-minute walk from American Village. Prices there are some of best in the area. It’s best to book hotels in advance.

Website

Car Rental: Kadena AB, Fuji Rent-a-Car DSN: 672-7445, prices vary.

Information: You can find/make reservations with diving/snorkeling tour guides on Trip Advisor and AirBnB experiences.

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