What is a blue cave and why is it so special?
The blue cave of Okinawa is a very rare form of an ocean cave. Natural formed out of limestone, it has an interesting form that produces a beautiful effect of blue light.
Okinawa’s blue cave is located near the Onna Village at a location called Cape Maeda. It is only accessible by boat if the weather allows it. The cave is semi-submerged so that there is only very little sunlight bringing in light. At the entrance of the cave you can see white sand as the sea bad. The entrance is narrow, around 3 meters wide. In the cave itself there is more space, so don’t worry about it.
Let’s talk more about the special effect or natural phenomena as some people call it. The cave is semi-submerged and the white sea bed reflects the lights in a perfect angle. When you are inside the cave you can see the water shimmering blue by the reflected light.
This being said, it appeared to me as a pretty interesting to visit as I have never seen as a place like that before. In general I love everything that is connected with the ocean, even though small and narrow caves don’t really sound too exciting.
To get into the blue cave of Okinawa you need a boat ride
The easiest way to get there is simply by joining one of the local snorkeling or diving tours. If you are a diver it can be a nice opportunity to experience something new that definitely is not as dangerous as real cave diving. However, I must warn all divers that it can be quite crowded and the experience depends on day time and overall visitors.
Online you can various tour operators who can bring you to the cave, like on this website. I have seen most of operator’s headquarters and can tell you they are mostly similar. The price difference between the tours will mostly define the equipment they use. If you prefer well-maintained snorkeling equipment and wet suits you obviously shouldn’t go for the cheapest. Find one in the middle that has a good rating and you should be fine. Overall you won’t find too many bad surprises as Japan usually offer quality service.
Tour starts at the operators headquarter
Here you will get your own equipment, depending on what you have booked. Highly recommended is the normal snorkeling tour, as the ocean is not too deep around the cave. If you are fine with diving and holding your breath, you won’t need scuba diving equipment.
Make sure you feel comfortable in your wetsuit and the equipment you get. The scuba mask is probably most important as it can be really annoying if you have problems with it. Bring your own mask if you have.
After that you will get a quick briefing about the blue cave in Okinawa, what it is about, and how to behave. If you are in a group with other tourists, chances are that some of them can’t swim. In that case they need a swimming vest. Overall it is recommended for everyone to wear a vest, Japanese safety. Therefore make sure you wear one when entering the boat.
What you should bring for this tour:
Sunglasses (it’s bright on the boat)
Clothes for changing
Moisturizer can be helpful after all the saltwater
Boat ride to the blue cave in Okinawa
Most tour operators are located near the main streets. You have to walk a bit to get to the small harbor where all boats are parking. Get on the boat and enjoy a 20-minute ride along the shore. It’s great to have some conversation with your tour guide and figure out what you can and can’t do.
Now here is the most important point. When you arrive at the blue cave you can immediately know how your experience will be. There are just 2 determining factors that will make or break your day. The weather and the number of other visitors.
With bad weather you will obviously not see the blue light effect in its full power, also the snorkeling in front of the cave is not as fun as with sunny weather, due to visibility.
In case there are a lot of other visitors it starts to feel weird and many, especially western people, will find it a bit annoying. 3-5 other tour boats are what you can consider to be totally fine. Everything that is more than that can become annoying, as you basically have to line up to enter the cave.
Entering Okinawa’s blue cave
The tour guide will have a small buoy for you to hold on, in case you are not a good swimmer or if there are many other visitors, to not lose you. Inside the cave it does feel really good, the water is incredibly clear and you can see fish everywhere. To have the best vision in there, close your eyes for a few seconds to adjust your eyes to the darker surroundings. Then look straight at the cave entrance and you will see the shimmering blue light looking absolutely stunning.
Your tour guide will bring you deeper into the cave and show you some hidden and super dark corners. It is hard to tell how deep it really goes in but to find that out you probably need to be a professional cave diver. Turning on the flashlight will reveal swarms of colorful fish inside the cave, really nice to see if you are into marine life.
After the cave is before the cave
While you are supposed to wear your life vest inside of the cave, you aren’t when you get out. The corals and ocean in front of the cave is full of life and you are given some free time to just snorkel around and explore the ocean. This was as good as the visit to the cave as you are much freer to do what you like, in my case to diving all the way to the ground of the ocean and check out the fish. Most area near the cave is around 5 meters deep with a sharp fall-off towards the open ocean. However, be careful and check your surroundings as there are frequently some small boats around the blue cave.
While you are supposed to wear your life vest inside of the cave, you aren’t when you get out. The corals and ocean in front of the cave is full of life and you are given some free time to just snorkel around and explore the ocean. This was as good as the visit to the cave as you are much freer to do what you like, in my case to diving all the way to the ground of the ocean and check out the fish. Most area near the cave is around 5 meters deep with a sharp fall-off towards the open ocean. Be careful and check your surroundings as there are frequently some small boats around the blue cave.
After like 20-30 minutes you will slowly get back on the boat and start your journey back to the harbor to finish your trip.
Most operators will provide a shower and some shampoo to you, which is really what you need after a long day like this. Make sure to ask your local tour guide where to have some good dinner, there are many small restaurants and within a reasonable distance with a car.