Interestingly, despite the fact that I was not the one who had proposed or coordinated this trip, I had apparently done the most research into the activities available around Naha and had made the most concrete plans. Everyone was in favor of more or less just doing their own thing once they reached the island. But, because Naha itself didn’t have any remarkable beaches (and why go to Okinawa, if not for the beaches?), I decided that I was going to go to Zamami, one of the nearby smaller islands that you could reach by boat.
I said that anyone else was free to come with me, since it’s obviously not as fun to do things on your own, but then everyone ended up coming along! I guess no one else had really made any plans, haha. We got a little lost on the way to the harbor, and we made it just in time to catch the ferry we wanted! To be honest, once we’d bought our tickets, the man at the ticket booth told us simply, “Run.” So we ended up running that last stretch down to where the ferry was docked.
The boat ride was really fun! We all gathered on the second floor deck so we could enjoy the fresh open air. The ride was bouncy, though, and trying to keep our footing made for some laughs. A couple people got sick, but the ride wasn’t that long, so it’s not unbearable. For anyone interested, there are two different boats that go to and from the island, one being a slower ferry, the other being a faster (and more expensive) boat.
Once we arrived, a quick stop at the visitor center let us know about all the more popular beach spots, so we made the short trek (20-30 minutes?) to one of the popular spots.
It was a nice walk, and we saw very few other people. Perhaps because it was a weekday, and it was still not as warm as we would have liked. But it was still a lovely day, nonetheless. We could hear the songs of birds in the trees, and it gave the island a very tropical feel. When we finally made it to the beach spot, we took a quick break for lunch. There was a small shop where you could buy basic meals–noodle or rice dishes mostly, plus goodies like shaved ice or snacks. I got some sort of spicy sesame beef noodles.
You could also buy swimming or snorkeling gear, or rent it from some older ladies outside. Most of us decided to rent snorkeling gear. Apparently, we also had to pay to use the beach chairs, which was a bummer, but between the lot of us, it wasn’t too much.
The beach was pretty nice, though the sand was quite rough on our feet–not like the soft sand I’m used to in California. But the water was so very blue! I’ve always loved swimming, loved the ocean. I was one of the first to charge into the water!
One of my friends had a waterproof camera, but she didn’t want to go in the water herself, so she let all of us borrow it to get some really fun photos! The water was really clear and there were lots of beautiful fish. I’m so glad I was able to use her camera; it made me want to buy a waterproof camera of my own!
We took our time at the beach, but then there was an odd mix-up while we were getting ready to go back–half of us were still eating, relaxing, getting changed out of our swimsuits, etc., when all of a sudden we realized that half of our group was missing! We called them and they’d apparently taken a shuttle back to the harbor. I guess a couple of Japanese folks had urged them to take the shuttle, saying something like it was the only one. (Even so, I don’t know why they would go when the rest of us weren’t there.) But, it led to us all returning to the harbor earlier than I would have liked.
There was a ferry ready to leave right then, and a few people in our group were ready to return to Naha already, so they bought tickets for the ferry. After some discussion, most of our group decided, “Well, if they’re returning, we might as well go too.” But personally, I didn’t understand why they would want to leave early. We were on a small, beautiful, Okinawan island! There were no crowds! We could easily stick around for a couple more hours to explore and walk around!
So. I made the independent decision to stay behind and wander around by myself, while everyone else took the ferry back to Naha.
I’m not the sort of person who needs to be with other people 24/7. I like having time to myself, to explore the world, to explore my own thoughts. Even though I’d come with a large group of friends, I was only close to a few of them, so sometimes I felt a bit awkward. I also didn’t like having to do things I didn’t like (such as leaving early), just because that’s what everyone else was doing. In a way, it’s just another life lesson: Don’t be afraid of striking out on your own!
A couple hours later, I caught the ferry back to Naha on my own, relaxing below deck this time with a row of seats to myself and nothing but my music to occupy my thoughts. Funny story, though: As I was walking back to our hotel from the harbor, one of my sandals broke! I ended up walking back, hoping the many people I passed by didn’t look down at my feet and think I was a loony for having only one shoe!