How to Snorkel at Cape Maeda and Blue Cave without joining a tour?

You don’t have to join a tour to snorkel in Okinawa. Oops, I’ve said it a few times, haven’t I? But it’s true. Today, I will share some tips on how to snorkel at Cape Maeda without joining a tour. You don’t have to pay guide fees or snorkel together with a big group of tourists. You set your own timing on how long you want to play with the fishes and enjoy the water off East China Sea.

If that sounds like your style, read on. Not interested in logistics info? No problem. Just scroll right through to second-half of the post and watch us interact with the friendly fishes before taking in spectacular views of Cape Maeda.  

Snorkel at Cape Maeda
Snorkeling at Cape Maeda

What to Prepare: DIY Snorkel at Cape Maeda

If you are reading this, you should be someone who loves free and easy travel and enjoy the process of crafting out your customized travel plan. Here are some extra stuff to take note of if you want to snorkel on your own at Cape Maeda or in Okinawa in general.

1. Bring Your Own Gear

Don’t worry. The cost of getting your own stuff would likely be cheaper than renting them especially if you intend to snorkel at more than a few places in Okinawa. Other than Cape Maeda, we also snorkeled at Kouri Island and Da Du Bin Beach. These water gears also came in handy when we chased several waterfalls in Northern Okinawa.

Snorkel at Cape Maeda
My DIY snorkeling gear

If you stay in Singapore, you are in luck because you can find most of the things you need at Decathalon SG. I went there twice and picked up snorkeling gear at unbelievably-low prices.

Prefer to purchase it online? You can find out the latest prices of these snorkeling gear which are similar to the ones I’d used for my trip:

Here’s a gauge on how much you can save by snorkeling on your own. You’ll save on rental of snorkeling gear which may cost above ¥2000 (refer random website) per session. If you join a tour, they will provide the gear for free, but a snorkeling tour to blue cave would cost about ¥5000 per pax.

Other advantages? You own the snorkeling gear, right? So you can use them for future trips. Infinite savings?

2. Check Live Sea Condition

Before you visit Cape Maeda, please refer to her official website to find out if the site is opened for snorkeling. Click on the tab “Today’s Swimming Info”. It will show you live camera footage of sea condition and indicate if the stairs leading to the water is opened.

 


How to Get to Cape Maeda? 

I assume you will be renting a car because that’s the best way to experience Okinawa. If you are coming from Naha, it will take you about 1 hour to reach Cape Maeda by expressway. I recommend that you add another 15 minutes and travel by the toll-free route, because road toll in Okinawa isn’t cheap.

Must-read18 Important Things To Know Before Visiting Okinawa

If you are taking public transport, you can refer to this website on how to reach Cape Maeda. It sounded like a lot of work and isn’t cheap. To summarize, you need to transfer two buses and add a 10-minute walk. That’s a total of ¥2700 (return trip). FYI, renting a car for a day cost only ¥3000.

 


Facilities at Cape Maeda 

Parking at Cape Maeda

There are ample parking lots at Cape Maeda. Unlike other capes that we’ve visited in Okinawa, parking at Cape Maeda isn’t free. It cost ¥100 per hour. We spent slightly over two hours at Cape Maeda and incurred ¥300.

By the way, we saw some locals parking along a road outside this official carpark. I think they weren’t too pleased with the parking charges. 

Shower Facilities at Cape Maeda

You can enjoy hot shower after a snorkeling session, but at a fee. It’s a coin-operated shower system that charges ¥200 per 1 min 40 sec of water flow.

Snorkel at Cape Maeda
This is located within each shower cubicle

Please remember to set the temperature before inserting the coins.

Snorkel at Cape Maeda

We aren’t the kind of travelers who like to spend such money on forgettable experiences, especially not on water in a public site. So, here’s what we did.

The Alternatives to Paying for Shower Facilities at Cape Maeda

We saw the locals “showering” openly at the car park using what I think was a car-built-in water tank cum sprinkler. Great, we’ll do what the locals do, right? Traveling is all about immersing in local culture. LOL! Our three 1L bottles of tap water came in handy. We took turns for our shower – one would elevate the bottle over the head of the other and serve as a shower head holder. :)

It wasn’t technically a shower, but was good enough to wash off the excess salt content. We were totally cool with it! 

Tips: Place a few bottles of tap water in the car. Make some holes on the bottle cap. These bottles will come in handy when travelling. You can use them to wash off salt, sand and dirt from snorkeling gear, your shoes or your body.

Lockers at Cape Maeda

You can find coin-lockers in the shower room. The size of the locker is not big, but was sufficient for us to place our phones, car key and some clothes. Cost: ¥100 per use.

If you have larger items, consider leaving them in your car. Just bring along your car key and deposit it in the locker. The carpark isn’t very far from the shower room.

Hair Dryers

Limited hair dryers were available at public area. I think there were just four hairdryers to be shared between men and women. The way these hairdryers were placed reminded me of phone booths. Once again, you’ve got to pay. It costs ¥100 for a 4.5 minutes of use. I wonder if this place is owned by a private company because it seems like a lot of things are chargeable huh?  

Other Facilities at Cape Maeda

Other than shower room, they have toilets too. I must be blind that day because I couldn’t find one. Apparently, the toilets are located in a separate building.

Cape Maeda also has changing rooms which I didn’t make use of.

Closing Hours at Cape Maeda

Please kindly note that all the above facilities are closed at 7pm. Parking will be closed between 5.30pm to 7pm depending on which month you visit. You can refer to more info at Cape Maeda’s official website.

Snorkel at Cape Maeda
Facilities at Cape Maeda

 


My Experience Snorkeling at Cape Maeda

Great. We’re done with the logistics. Let me share with you my experience snorkeling at Cape Maeda.

Cape Maeda forms part of my 9 Days Okinawa Itinerary on Day 3. That was the day when we overslept and hence could only reach Cape Maeda at 4.30pm. Luckily, we were there in June when daylight hours was long. The sun would only set at 7.30pm giving us plenty of time to explore the cape.

Getting into our Snorkeling Gear

We changed into our simple snorkeling gear, deposit our stuff in the locker and proceeded to a flight of stairs located to the right of the facility. Descending this stairways brought us to the bottom of the cape and allowed us to enter water easily. Yes, we were glad that we didn’t have to dive into the cape from great height.

The water wasn’t as warm as other places we’ve snorkeled in Okinawa, probably because we went late. Also, the snorkeling area seemed to be well sheltered. I wore normal swimwear and thought it worked fine during this summer season.

I saw many groups of tourists professionally dressed in full wet suits and wonder if that is really necessary. I’d found wet suits useful when entering New Zealand’s icy cold water during river tracing, but is it necessary in a super hot island like Okinawa, during summer? Getting into and out of wet suit is a hassle. Walking in it also feels weird. I would only use them when absolutely necessary. But take my opinion with a pinch of salt because I’m not an expert.

Snorkel at Cape Maeda
Most tourists were dressed in full wet suit during summer season in Okinawa.

Shallow Water at Cape Maeda

I was expecting a deep drop after stepping into the water off Cape Maeda. Surprisingly, the water near the stairs was shallow. I could even stand and walk on the partially-submerged rock surface. It wasn’t as daunting as I was expecting it to be.

9 Days Okinawa Itinerary
Here’s where we snorkeled at Cape Maeda

Still, I think a life vest or some floating device is a must-have for safety reasons. No matter what, this is a cape, not a beach. Water can get rough without warning. Also, the floating device can help you venture further into the open sea to experience more diversity in marine life.

It was a great experience snorkeling at Cape Maeda. Fishes were in abundance and they loved the food we brought for them. Here’s a video to show you what we saw. Sorry about the poor resolution as it was filmed with a mobile phone. Otherwise, how to pack under 7kg for a 9 days trip? :) Just view to get an idea of how it’s like to snorkel in Cape Maeda, and trust that the actual experience would be so much better.

 

The Brave Ones Can Swim to Blue Cave on their own

Most tourists who sign up for a tour to visit Blue Cave would either swim to the cave from Cape Maeda or take a boat to the cave entrance. The former would be cheaper of course. The fee based on what I saw was about ¥5000 per pax.

My partner who is a confident swimmer decided to venture on his own to the popular blue cave. From where we snorkeled (near the stairs), we could see many boats waiting at an area probably a few hundred meters away. That gave us a clue on where the blue cave was located and my partner swam to it. Due to uncertainty of how risky this journey would be, he went there together with a cute floating device meant for kids. LOL!

Snorkel at Cape Maeda
My travel partner swam towards the boat where Blue Cave should be nearby

He said the float slowed him down, but did allow him to rest in the open water when he wanted to. He was back after 20 minutes. Hope that gives you an idea of the distance between Blue Cave and Cape Maeda. My partner reported that much of the cave was above water level due to low tide and hence wasn’t impressive.

Do I recommend you to visit blue cave on your own? Well, that really depends on your water confidence and whether you are travelling alone or in groups. As you see, I chose not to swim there because I’m not a confident swimmer. If in doubt, take the safer option. 

Admiring Cape Maeda from Various Vantage Points

What did I do when waiting for my partner to finish touring the blue cave? I took countless selfies at the foot of the staircase and watched my partner disappeared into the distance.

After that, I strolled to a vantage point to the left of the staircase, stood on some elevated rocks and took in great views of Cape Maeda.

Snorkel at Cape Maeda

Snorkel at Cape Maeda
My view from one of the vantage points at Cape Maeda

There’s also a viewing tower nearby with coin-operated telescope (¥100). Just nice, when I was done admiring Cape Maeda, I also spotted my partner swimming back. He was a tiny ant in the water with a neon green float, from where I was standing. ;)

Snorkel at Cape Maeda
Viewing Tower at Cape Maeda

 

Leaving Cape Maeda

We happened to end our activity right before its closing hour. Just to emphasize again, the shower facility and parking would be closed at 7pm. So, please take note. I panicked slightly when the loud speaker started blasting loudly that the area would be closed in 15 minutes, and my dearest partner was still a tiny ant in the water. 

Snorkel at Cape Maeda
Took many selfies while waiting for my travel partner to come back from Blue Cave

That’s it on DIY Snorkeling at Cape Maeda. Do you find these tips on How to Snorkel at Cape Maeda without Joining a Tour useful? If yes, would you support this website and my effort by sharing this post with your friends. Let them get all excited on Okinawa, okay?  

What’s next? More travel and beauty posts coming your way. I have so much more to share on Okinawa, Langkawi, El Nido, Taiwan and more. Stay tuned. If you like to get notified of my new posts, click the button below to subscribe or connect with me through facebook or instagram. See you soon!

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