The cars thinned out the further north I got, eschewing the rural part of Okinawa, but the distances aren’t as great as I thought they would be, unlike Hokkaido’s roads. The expressway makes the journey easier, but the tolls to pay each time aren’t exactly easy on the pocket. It is possible to go to Cape Hedo, walk around the hiker’s paradise in Dai Sekirinzan (a quasi national park), then loop around Motobu, Kouri Island as well as visit the Ocean Expo Park all in a day, which I somehow managed to do. But to the Japanese, this is considered a long trip and most of them prefer to break this journey up, spending the night in one of the few villages in the Kunigami district.
I eventually got around to Blue Cave, a spot on Cape Maeda where dive and snorkel companies quite literally operate out of their vans. It’s all chaotic and desperately hectic and to walk alongside people dressed in wetsuits and wet gear made me impatient to start. Picking one that had a spot free (with a non-English name), I managed to secure a dive with a wizened Japanese owner himself, who, with his limited English, gestured how much he loved diving with certified people while shouting out the words ‘panic’ and ‘scream’. I laughed, then remembered the amused horror I felt when the area around the blue cave was filled with people being towed around underwater.
Cape Maeda is shore entry at its finest – and perhaps at its most rigorous, for me at least – where I’ve had to trudge across the car park with the full get-up and then down the steps and into the sea. Blue Cave’s selling point is the blue waters one sees when emerging out of a cave and even if it wasn’t the best dive or had the visibility that I’ve experienced, it was somehow the most relaxing and fun one I’ve had in ages, despite the crowd.