Yesterday, Russell took the day off from work. We awoke at 6ish, fed [S], packed our snorkel gear, filled our cooler with snacks, and ensured we had a change of clothing. The three of us left our house at 7:50 a.m. Our first stop? Dropping [S] at her day care provider. “We’ll collect [S] by no later than 3:30,” I promised. Our second stop? BK for an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. Our third stop? Odo Kaigan, also known as John Man Beach, in Itoman.
Itoman is located at the southern tip of Okinawa Honto. To reach Odo Kaigan, we drove through several sugar cane fields before pulling into a (free) small parking lot, which was nearly empty. One of the parked vehicles was a dive van, which made me think we had made the right decision traveling south rather than north.
By all accounts, Odo Kaigan is a place to snorkel or scuba, but not to swim. Unlike resort beaches, there are no facilities save rustic, but clean, men and women’s toilets, no lifeguards, and no concessions. But that is the beauty of the beach. I felt as if we had discovered our own private beach, unknown to many, if not to most.
The water is full of coral and the fish are plentiful. We saw trumpet fish, parrot fish, angelfish, zebra fish, brightly colored blue fish, pale colored blue fish, and fish that tried to blend into the sand. I love to swim, but I get anxious when I see too many fish swim my way, which happened yesterday morning. When I took a break, I explored the beach, which is mostly coral, with plenty of bits of pottery, sea glass, and shells, mixed in, a treasure trove for beach hunters.
As the hours passed, the beach became more and more crowded. Groups of scuba divers walked the beach, families gathered around tide pools, and flotation devices could be seen dotting the waters. When we returned to the parking lot, it was full. People were eating lunch under trees, snorkeling tours were having participants sign waivers, and families were making their way to the water. Despite the activity, we managed to change into dry clothes and make our way northeast to our fourth and final stop of the day.
We arrived at the restaurant at 1 p.m. and were informed it was a 30 minute wait to be seated inside. As we walked the grounds, we were rewarded with sweeping views of the bright blue waters surrounding us on one side and a garden protected by shisa on the other.