Sunday, September 5, 2010

And Then There Were Four: Don & Leanne's Visit to Okinawa (Kerama Islands Boat Dive Trip)

The Kerama Islands (also known as 慶良間諸島) are a group of 22 islands located 32 kilometres (20 miles) southwest of Okinawa. They are part of the chain of southern Japanese islands that make up the Ryuko Islands (Okinawa is also part of this chain). Most of the islands are uninhabited. So, why would anyone take a trip out to them? Because the Kerama Islands are known to be the best diving in all of Okinawa! Matt and I have been wanting to go out on a boat dive to these islands for quite a while now, but we decided to save it for Don & Leanne's visit. And I'm glad we did - these boat dives were like the 'frosting on the cake' to the whole trip!

We started off by meeting at Kadena Marina early in the morning - the dive trip was chartered through them and included 2 air tanks for each diver (as well as the ride out there) for $75 a person. There were also a group of snorkelers that came along with us ($60 per person). Again, there was no sea condition this day - the water was really smooth, which made for a quick and easy ride out to the dive spot. From the time we left the marina to the time we anchored in the Keramas, about an hour had passed. The captain was funny and really knew the area well. We also had a few Dive Masters on board with us that helped us get in and out of the water.

Getting ready to board our dive boat - the "C Falcon"

Matt and I as we were leaving the marina

Don & Leanne

Check out this video clip of the ocean on our way out to the islands:

We anchored right off one of the smaller islands that our captain was familiar with - I don't remember what he told us the real name was, but he was calling it "Goat-Shark Island", because there are little goats all over the island, and there are sharks in the waters around the island. I'm not going to lie - I was a little nervous about diving where sharks would be, but they assured us that they were just small, White Tip Sharks that would be sleeping in deep crevices below us. After gearing up, we entered the water using the "giant step" method (not sure if this is the technical name) which was our first time ever. It was super easy just stepping right into the water and not having to walk in from the shore and swim out to our destination. I have to say, I definitely became a fan of boat dives because of this trip!

Approaching the island with the goats (it's hard to see them - they were so tiny from where we were!)

The crystal clear, brilliant blue water - it was like jumping into a pool

That's Leanne in the water ready to snorkel

Don & I getting ready to step off the dive platform in the back of the boat for our first dive

A large Trigger Fish

Check out this video clip of a sea turtle I spotted:

The absolutely stunning underwater cliff - it went down for over 100 feet

Me dropping down

A couple of interesting shots we got of the area around the cliff (maybe around 60 feet below the surface)

Check out this video clip of Matt, Don & I right up against the underwater cliff:


Matt & Don

One of the walls along the cliff-side had a group of small Lion Fish on it - not the best shot, but it still shows the fish

Matt & Don swimming through crevices (Matt top & Don below)

And, we couldn't complete our first dive without getting to see these White Tip Sharks - here are a couple of them (about 4 feet long) sleeping on the floor of a crevice

Check out this video clip of Matt getting up close and personal with a couple of the sharks that were trying to sleep:

Back on the "C Falcon" after the first dive of the day - Leanne, Don & I

Instead of changing locations and re-anchoring somewhere else, we did a Drift Dive for our second dive of the day. A Drift Dive is where you jump off the boat, drop down in the water, and swim in a certain direction. Instead of turning around to go back toward the boat, you keep going in that direction and the boat goes and meets you to pick you up when you're done. While our second dive didn't quite compete with the turtle, the sharks and the amazing underwater cliff of the first dive, I'm still glad we got to experience our first Drift Dive.

Don swimming through some more underwater crevices - this second dive had a TON of them

We surfaced for a little while in order to help a snorkeler that had gotten sick by getting the boat's attention

No, that little brown spec in the center isn't a rock - its actually our boat!

A large Sea Star

Don taking a rest on the bottom of the ocean

Some cool soft coral

A large shell that Don found - still had something living inside, too!

Cool sea plant

A bright red Sea Star with 6 legs

An eel I spotted in a hole

Check out this video clip of Matt messing with the eel - it eventually comes out of his hole, and we get to see how long he actually is:

We ended up being the VERY last people back on the boat and took off back home to Okinawa. We were so tired from all the swimming, and the ride back was so relaxing - Matt even took a little nap! We are already talking about taking another trip out to the Kerama's - diving on other parts of Okinawa seem to pale slightly in comparison to this trip! We had an amazing time, and I'm so glad we got to share our experience with Don & Leanne as well!

Thanks for following - Matt and I love and miss all of you guys!

'Till next time!


1 comment:

  1. My memories of this day will be forever in my mind - however, quite different from yours! After treading water for literally hours, dealing with charlie horses x 12, and watching the boat going in the opposite direction (I'm glad you got a picture), I will forever remember fearing for not only my life (attempting to climb on the coral with waves crashing and 4-6 inch crabs running all over)but, yours as well-to which you were oblivious (after hearing your names 1, 2, and then 3 times missing fr roll call with the captain going in the opposite direction of where I knew you were diving.) I thank God for protection and know I am a different snorkeler from this experience. Wow! Memories!