My paradise: Kushimoto, Wakayama

My paradise: Kushimoto, Wakayama

by Nell Grimm
Stripes Okinawa

Located in the southern most region of Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture is a serene paradise that is a scuba diving haven: Kushimoto.
Scuba divers flock there to swim among rare and exotic species of fish and coral. Similar to the Gulf Stream of the Atlantic Ocean, the Kuroshio Current runs north and feeds the waters surrounding Kushimoto.
Over Columbus Day weekend, I set out to explore Kushimoto’s warm and plankton rich waters.  I stayed at Seaman’s Beach, a dive shop which offers Japanese-style accommodations that are separated for men and women.

Diving with the team from Seaman’s Beach is worth the trip. Divers are provided warm tea and a fresh warm-water rinse after each dive. They offer diving and snorkeling for all skill levels. They also dish up some great food. I recommend signing up for the Saturday Barbecue at the Seaman’s Beach Dive Club, where fresh tuna is sliced and served raw or fried tempura style. Also served are items from hot grills, including soba noodles, vegetables, chicken and pork.
Wherever I went in Kushimoto, I was welcomed and encouraged to join and participate in the celebrations. When not diving, one can enjoy the sights of the National Scenic Park in Kushimoto. The Hashigui-Iwa Rocks were pushed up during the volcanic activity that formed these islands. These rock formations provide a beautiful and peaceful view.
I also enjoyed live performances of the Lion Dance. During my weekend there, performing troupes presented with drums and flutes the Legend of the Lion. A typical dance and story lasted for one hour and was free to visitors. The troupes moved around the town for the day, and also performed at Seaman’s Beach Dive Club. The sounds of the drums could be heard across this quaint fishing town, providing an authentic and inviting atmosphere.

A family-friendly visit can be made to the nearby aquarium. Right next to the aquarium is the Kushimoto Dive Center, which offers a protected area for snorkeling and scuba diving.

This is touted as the oldest dive center in Japan. Rental of snorkeling equipment is available.
Everywhere one looks in Kushimoto, there is a postcard photo waiting to be taken. I hope more people have the chance to visit this wonderful place.

A Few Tips

• Divers should consider shipping dive gear in advance to avoid lugging cumbersome dive gear through the train stations.
• Seaman’s Beach is a full-service dive shop and offers Nitrox, gear rentals and accommodations. I recommend that you email through their website and reserve well in advance of your trip.
• Seaman’s Beach offers shuttle pick up at the train station.
• If Seaman’s Beach’s sleep accommodations are full, there is another inn one block away.
• For the fastest form of transportation to Kushimoto, I recommend the Kuroshio Express train from Osaka.

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