Okinawa surprises and amazes

Well into my trip to Okinawa, the typhoons have passed and we’re finally able to do some diving. I’m pleasantly surprised - we see great underwater seascapes, schools of fish and colorful marine life on every dive.

Posted on Oct 11, 2013

One of the main goals of the trip was Aka, one of the islands in the Kerama group south-west of Okinawa’s capital city Nahe.

This leg was initially cancelled because of the typhoons, but weather turned back to normal quicker than expected and we were able to squeeze in a few days here after all. And what a place it is!

After a two-hour ride on a speed ferry we arrived at this peaceful little island - a true tropical paradise. We live in traditional japanese-style rooms at Seasir’s great little guest house, just 100 meters from the beach - with a jacuzzi on the roof.

Making your own bed has a quite literal meaning at Aka Island - and I love my traditional, minimalistic room.

Only about 400 people live in the village, and great divespots are close by. The white beaches are pristine, lined with palm trees and tropical flowers.

At night, the beach serves as a meeting place for the local crowd of cats, which to my surprise mostly don’t have tails.

Luckily, this turns out to have absolutely nothing to do with the sometimes strange but very good food we are served - they’re a special breed called Japanese Bobtail, and they just look plain weird.

Spectacular diving

The diving at Aka is splendid. In most places, the bottom is either sandy or full of grey rocks, almost resembling what you see in rivers or freshwater mountain lakes at home.

Suffice to say, everyone with a camera is a happy camper, and we are getting some great shots on every dive.

On top of the reef, where there is sunshine and warmth, we find exquisite coral just as nice as anything I have ever seen. In between there are swim-throughs and small caverns, often with brightly colored seafans, dense schools of glassy sweepers and sparkling soft coral.

There are schools of tropical fish everywhere, and so many new species I’ve lost count a long time ago. Parrotfish, snappers, grunts, lionfish, wrasses and damselfish abound, and the sandy bottom is full of partner gobies with busy little shrimp friends.

At Oue Island, we came across this very cool artificial reef, placed on the sandy bottom to attract even more coral and fish:

The crew and everyone at Marine House Seasir are professional to the fingertips, making sure everyone has a great experience. We get an English briefing before every dive, although I think the Japanese ones are pretty cool too - here’s a clip:

After surviving two typhoons that cost us almost half the trip, the weather has finally made a turn for the better and diving conditions have been really great. Sounds perfect, right?

Disaster strikes again

Well, it was pretty perfect until my two-year old back-problem suddenly rendered me incapable of standing up straight, sitting properly, laying down - anything. Diving? Out of the question. Pain? Enough to go around.

Another very strange sight, the so-called Prickly redfish - a species of sea cucumber otherwise known as Thelenote ananas. It kind of resembles how my back feels at the moment.

It seems there is no end to my bad luck on this trip... what a nightmare! I hope it goes away before we reach Yonaguni, the last leg of the trip.

We’re supposed to dive the famous underwater monument and I’ve been waiting about 12 years to finally get a chance to do it. It will take more than a bad back to keep me out of the water!

Sometimes nature seems intent on making us smile in disbelief!

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