Cape Maeda & Maeda Flats: Great Okinawa Water Sport Beaches
Cape Maeda is a hugely popular snorkelling and water sports spot in the Kunigami district of Okinawa. Whilst I’m a big fan of finding places off the beaten path, I’m not one to pass up the opportunity to enjoy a place of natural beauty, busy or not! I invite you, lovely Taiken readers, on an adventure into the wild blue.
Snorkelling and diving.
Not far from the shore is a nest of coral reefs teeming with life; colourful fish, unusual invertebrates, and even sea snakes can all be seen and enjoyed here. The network of caves also make for great snorkelling and diving spots, with opportunities to spot some rare and unusual creatures. Proceed with caution, not all are harmless! Check this list of potentially dangerous ocean wildlife so you know what to be cautious of.
Snorkelling is an activity that can be conducted by anyone with a decent level of fitness and is a good swimmer. Snorkel gear can be bought for fairly cheap or rented out at lots of locations on the island, meaning you won’t be left missing out. Always check weather conditions on the day you plan to go, and also check ocean conditions, as of course these change very often. As a basic, take a mask, breathing tube, and protective footwear (stonefish often reside on the ocean floor. They are well camouflaged and highly deadly, stay safe). Diving requires scuba certification. Again, it’s a popular pastime on the island, and there are plenty of wonderful schools and instructors who can offer tuition and certification. Scuba gear can be costly, however it’s also possible to rent instead of buy.
dan barbus on Flickr
When you first arrive and park up, you can walk past the facilities (shops, changing areas, and toilets) right up to the very tip of the cliff. There’s a pretty little area to stand in and admire the view, which is simply stunning. The ocean stretches out on almost all sides, switching from bright teal to deep azure, glittering and sparkling in the Okinawan sunshine. Often you can look straight down and watch people enjoying the sea; snorkelling, diving, and swimming. There’s a flat grassy area on the top too, it would be a great spot for a picnic. Pack a little bento and enjoy!
This refers to the beach area, which can be only a five minute walk from the parking area. It’s actually a series of beaches, intertwined with large rock formations. At low tide you can walk between the beaches in thigh deep water. It’s very beautiful. Also at low tide you can walk quite far out before the water gets deep. This allows you to explore the caves and rocks surrounding the flats. Tread carefully in the caves, some contain deep rock pools that can be hard to spot in the dim light. As with diving and snorkelling, it’s advisable to wear something on your feet, even without the stonefish risk, there are lots of sharp little rocks on the seabed, just waiting to catch you out! Take a portable grill, and a cooler full of food and drink, and you’ve got yourself an entire day worth of sun, sea, sand, and satiety! Just make sure you clean everything up after.
Location and rules.
You can find Cape Maeda here. As with anywhere, there are a few rules visitors are expected to adhere to. This is for the safety of everyone, and to preserve wildlife. This website has a list of rules, as well as great advice on sea conditions, car parking prices, and facilities. You can read it in English and Japanese (link is for the English version).