Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dan in Okinawa

The long-anticipated visit is finally here - well, it has come and gone. For those of you who didn't know, my family and I had bought a plane ticket for my Dad to come visit Okinawa over a year ago as a Father's Day/Birthday/Christmas gift, and we've been looking forward to his trip for the past year! He finally made it out a couple of weeks ago, and he had a really unique Okinawan experience while he was here.

After a long 24-hours of flying from Chicago to Los Angeles to Tokyo to Okinawa, my Dad arrived with little to no jet-lag and two suitcases filled with clothing and dive gear. He was scuba certified in Chicago years ago, but this was going to be his first real dive trip where he was going to see the actual ocean, so you can imagine we had a bunch of plans. I say that he had a really unique experience in Okinawa, because it wasn't just sunny all day, every day. Being that we live on a sub-tropical island, things can be quite unpredictable, which is why he got to experience the sun, the heat, the humidity, the thunderstorms, the downpours, the beginning stages of a typhoon, and even an earthquake - all in 10 days! Okay, maybe the weather wasn't perfect all the time, but we really did SO MUCH on his trip despite that fact, and I do think it was pretty cool that he got to experience how diverse Okinawa weather can be!

Our week went a little like this...

Day 1 started off a little overcast and damp, but we made the best of it and took my Dad out to Henza, Miyagi & Ikei Islands off the East coast of Okinawa for some snorkelling and beach exploration. Keeping with the bi-polar tone of this trip, it poured while we were snorkelling, and 30 minutes later, the sun was out as if nothing had even happened.

Snorkelling under the red bridge

Day2 started off rainy as well. My original plan was to get my Dad in the water for some easy dives at our Seawall to start off the trip, but we weren't able to do that. The rain wasn't keeping us from diving, but the "Danger" sea condition was. Again, we made the best of the rainy day and headed up north to Nago, where we river trekked up to Tadake Falls, which was a blast. Again, the rain completely disappeared once we got to the falls, and it was replaced with sunshine for the remainder of the day. Bi-polar. Afterward, we drove to Aha Falls, where we had some fun on the rope swing, and Matt almost lost our Go-Pro camera with all our pictures on it:) We can laugh about it now.

Showing this rain who's boss

Matt and my Dad pulling down bamboo trees to make walking sticks for us

Tadake Falls

Up close and personal with Tadake Falls

Hiking our way up the insanely steep trail to the top of the waterfall

Snack time at the top of Tadake Falls

This is the only photo we got of us on the rope swing... unfortunately, the battery was dying, and everything it had left was used up when it fell off Matt's head and landed at the bottom of the lake while recording.  Yes, that happened. 

My Dad figuring out how to order his food at the ticket restaurant

Delicious Blue Seal - his favorite was the Coconut Smoothie w/ vanilla softserve on top;)

Day 3 I unfortunately had to work, but Matt and my Dad found a couple of calm dive spots to do his first dives at. At this point, we had heard rumors of a possible typhoon heading our way - basically the worst thing you can hear when your Dad is in town for a dive trip and only has 6 more days left. Anyway, they got in a couple of good dives this day - we didn't know how long we'd have until this typhoon hit, so we needed to get this diving party started!

My Dad's first dive in the ocean at Maeda Point!

And a second dive at Onna Point

Days 4 & 5 were diving days as well, as we watched the water calm down a bit from earlier in the week. We got in a couple dives as well as ate at some amazing restaurants - did I mention that this whole time we were eating delicious food each night?? Sooo good!

My first dive with my Dad

The amazing Transit Cafe

The even more amazing cheese and bread fondue at Transit Cafe

Assembling gear for more dives

Garlic House!

Day 6 was our Whale Shark dive - Matt and I had done this one before, but this time, there were THREE Whale Sharks in the net with us! The visibility seemed better than the first time as well, so we had a great time. Our only stroke of bad luck was our underwater housing for our camera unexpectedly breaking... just our luck, right? So, although the photos aren't the best - let me tell you - we are lucky to even have photos (thank you fellow American divers on our boat)!

They were all over the place!

Matt, me & my Dad hanging onto the outside of the net after our dive

Dad trying Okinawan Ramen

Day 7 we got to explore Maeda Flats before going ziplining at Forest Adventure Park in Onna. The sun decided to finally grace us with its presence, which resulted in an extremely hot and sweaty day (but fun, nonetheless)!

Gorgeous day at Maeda Flats

My Dad found this octopus in one of the tide pools

Welcome to Forest Adventure!

My Dad trying sushi for the first time!

Day 8 was our very last dive day, and Matt and I took my Dad to Bolo Point, one of our favorite dive spots (despite the difficult entry of climbing over jagged limestone). It was a deeper spot with a lot of really cool swim-throughs and crevices, which my Dad said was his favorite dive of the trip:) We spent the afternoon snorkelling around at Cape Manzamo and the Toilet Bowl which was really pretty as well.

Bolo Point - this is what we had to climb over to get to the water

Some really cool crevices

I swam over this crevice, but I knew where my Dad and Matt were from their bubbles:)

My Dad

Pretty Sea Fans

The beautiful Cape Manzamo

The water looks amazing

Snorkelling at the Toilet Bowl right next to Cape Manzamo


Water activities make you crave burgers - enter the amazing Sparky Burger!

Day 9 we decided to take it easy and just show my Dad around base as well as our local Nakagusuku Castle Ruins & Day 10 was simply the airport:( He flew out right as our typhoon was coming in!

Last dinner at Yoshi Hachi - my Dad with his big boat of Terriyaki LOL
Saying goodbye for the next year:(

I have to say, that I've never seen my Dad more adventurous - he was extremely open-minded to all different activities (jumping off rocks that I wouldn't even do!) and all different foods that he's either never tried (sushi) or has had an aversion to since he was 10 (asparagus - YES, my Dad ate THREE pieces of asparagus while he was here!). Although the trip went super fast, we really got to do almost everything I had planned, despite the crazy weather! It was so good to see my Dad after 1 1/2 years, and I hope he enjoyed being part of our life in Okinawa for those 10 days!

Hope we didn't wear you out too much, Dad! Okinawa misses you!!