Capes, Caves and Kaigunbo: Nature in Okinawa

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Kaigunbo Pool 2
by Prabhu Silvam

Scattered amidst the cerulean blue waters off the East China Sea is Okinawa prefecture. Located at the southernmost tip of Japan with Taiwan looming on its outskirts, Okinawa is made up of 49 inhabited islands (including Okinawa Island) and 111 uninhabited islands with sub-tropical temperatures year round. We were privileged to tag along with Follow Me Japan on their inaugural direct flight to Okinawa, and on the itinerary was an excursion to tiny Minami Daito island.

OKINAWA ISLAND
The main island of this namesake prefecture, Okinawa is home to a number of popular sites, including the iconic red Shuri Castle and the huge Churaumi Aquarium. It is also where its capital, Naha, is situated.

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Cape Manzamo

Situated on the northwest coast of Okinawa Island near Onna Village is the serene grounds of Cape Manzamo. Translated as “the cliff big enough to sit 10,000 warriors”, the cliff is also referred to as The Elephant’s Nose, and it is not difficult for one to see why. Carpeted with lush greenery, Cape Manzamo is a popular site for sunset-viewing, and just off the edge of the cliff is a tiny lagoon where tidal pools are formed at low tide. One can also dive nearby, at a site curiously called ‘Toilet Bowl”.

MINAMI DAITO
Situated about 400km east (or an hour’s plane ride) of main Okinawa Island, Minami Daito is a tiny island surrounded by cliffs, hosting Japan’s largest weather station, and is home to a unique culture that’s distinct from the rest of Okinawa.

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Hoshino Limestone Cave
Beneath the calm and tropical greenery lies an underground world filled with visual awe. The Hoshino Limestone Cave is a pink rock cave filled with stone columns, stalactites and stalagmites. The cave itself is believed to be over 50,000 years old and each column is reputed to grow at a rate of one centimetre every 47 years. Installed with metal staircases and sufficient lighting, the cave makes for an ideal underworld escape.

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Kaigunbo Pool
One of the paradoxes of this beautiful island is its absence of a beach. What it does have instead, is a natural saltwater pool called Kaigunbo Pool that was created through the hollowing out of the reef. This place is a hotbed for locals who throng the area in spring and summer to swim, snorkel, fish and to pick shellfishes.

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