This morning saw us waking up bright and early to make the ferry to Tokashiki Island.
We set out, on the way stopping to pick up some breakfast we could eat on the go and some lunch we could take with us to the island.
We were a little worried as the day was grey and overcast – we didn’t think it was going to be the best day to go to the beach.
Tokashiki Island is one of the Kerama Islands, located approximately 40 km west of the Okinawa Main Island, and has a population of about 800 people.
The island is accessible by a 35-45 minute express ferry from Tomari Port in Naha. The ferry tickets were quite expensive being around AUD$100 round trip for both of us but we really wanted to check out this particular island.
We were glad we did so as by the time we arrived at the island, the skies were clearing up and we could see patches of blue sky and the spectacular crystal clear water.
Initially, I had planned to be the ‘stuff watcher’ on the beach while Nick took a dip in the water. But Nick had been out in the ocean for mere minutes before coming back in, dropping down next to me and saying “how brave do you feel today?”
As it turns out, there is a spectacular coral reef in the swimming zone of Aharen beach (the main beach on the island). Nick spent a bit of time convincing me to hire a snorkelling set (flippers, mask and life jacket) and come out with him into the ocean.
Now, for those of you who know me, water and Carla don’t mix that well. To say I am not a strong swimmer is an understatement. I also have a phobia of being in deep water. But Nick has never led me astray and as he promised to stay next to me the whole time (sans gear, cause he don’t need those props!) I was willing to give it a try.
My last ditch effort to get out of snorkelling (“but who will look after our stuff!?”) was solved by some coin operated lockers at the beach. We threw our valuables in there and then set out to try this snorkelling business.
Unfortunately, I did feel like a bit of a sea-cow next to the graceful dolphin that Nick is cutting through the water, but true to his word, he didn’t leave me for a moment and took great pains to point out the best fish and coral in our near surrounds.
With my awkwardness fading and my curiosity and confidence growing, I was able to take in the serene beauty of the ocean floor. Nick had seen some ‘Nemo’s’ (clownfish) during his initial foray into the waves but I unfortunately didn’t see any. I did see some brilliant blue coloured corals and some fish that had sparkling rainbow hues. We also got to swim through and alongside a school of fish. There was a very large fish (bigger than my forearm!) which seemed intrigued by our intrusion into his home and he followed us around for a while.
Overall, I really loved the experience. My first snorkelling adventure! Nick said I did really well and I was so pleased that he talked me into it.
After we emerged from the water we decided to explore the near beaches as well. We set off from Aharen Beach hugging the shoreline to the West. Along the way, we stopped at an Observatory tower and took some photographs from the top.
We seemed to be the only couple exploring past the main beach (I am honestly not sure if that is because we missed some signage saying it was prohibited or because there weren’t heaps of people on the island as it still is pre-season for the booming Summertime) but Nick and I were completely alone for the entire time.
We found a big rock that Nick decided to climb and (very) cheekily flashed me. I DID catch a photo of this, but to save all your eyes and so I don’t breech some sort of posting law I’ll omit that photo from this line up.
Of other interesting things we saw on our beach-combing; there was a statue, literally in the middle of nowhere, a crypt/mausoleum structure, a beach that was just made up of bleached coral which clinked like broken ceramics as we walked over it and a cave where baby turtles had hatched and recently trekked into the ocean,
Closer to the main beach there was also a camping site with a small water-park which looked like it had been abandoned. I am not sure if they clean it all up and open it properly in Summer, but it smacked of neglect and overgrowth – not to mention the algae brown water in the wading pools. Nick and I both thought that it looked like something out of a Fallout game, post-nuclear war, abandoned park. Creepy.
At 4:30pm we caught the bus from Aharen Beach back to the ferry port and made our way back to the Okinawa mainland. After stopping to buy something for breakfast the next morning, we stopped at the Airbnb briefly before heading out for dinner.
Nick had found another highly rating place less then 5 minutes walk from the apartment, this one specialising in gyoza, or Japanese dumplings. The name of this place has no easy translation, but in kanji, its name is べんり屋玉玲瓏.
Now, this was particularly difficult as none of the servers spoke English and the menu was entirely in Japanese kanji.
Nick had googled the kanji for ‘dumpling’ so we were okay to order a plate of fried and steamed dumplings… everything else on the menu was a guess. Just for laughs, aside from the dumplings we picked one other item at random. It turned out to be beer. Nick was thrilled.
Nick though, should be extremely proud, as for restaurants, his recent picks have his standing at 3-for-3. This place served up the most amazing dumplings either of us had ever had in our lives.
After we saw other people eating Xiao Long Bao dumplings we simply asked for a plate of these as well. For those of you who don’t know, when consuming xiao long bao you have to employ gentle chopstick manoeuvring for a seamless transfer of the dumpling from the steamer basket to the soup spoon. You can then bite into the skin to slurp the broth and this helps to avoid scalding splashes or spills. Nick and I both broke one dumpling each but we managed to eat the remaining ones with the skin intact so we could properly enjoy the soup filling.
After this delicious and cheap dinner, we headed back to the Airbnb to clean up and get ready for bed. Tomorrow is our last full day in Japan (devastated!) and we will spend it on a day trip tour around Okinawa.
Stay tuned readers!