Dan, Divina, and I just returned from a five-day sojourn to the always gorgeous Okinawa. Actually, Divina is still there, scouring the salty seas for signs of manatee life. I would love to have joined her, but alas, my much more demanding position as an ALT prevented me from doing so. Hopefully she won’t renounce the pressures of the outside world and become a permanent beach bum. (Divina, if you happen to be reading this at an internet cafe, and have decided to become a permanent beach bum, can I split your chocolate with Dan? We’ll take really good care of it…hehe)

It’s hard to put my finger on what impressed me the most about Okinawa, Japan’s answer to Hawaii. Could it have been the pristine beaches with their miles of diamond-colored sand and warm, crystal-clear waters? Or was it perhaps the forests brimming with hundreds of chirping birds, troupes of colorful butterflies, and and endless procession of lush vegetation? Then again, it could just as easily have been the snorkeling on Aka and Zamami islands that did the trick. After all, nothing quite compares to witnessing firsthand the chaotic symphony of life being performed in the ocean.

Imagine: thousands of fish of every color, size and shape imaginable dash through the water in a breathtaking show of grace, speed, and synchronization; meanwhile, ancient turtles take leisurely strolls past mountains of coral reef. Seaweed sways languidly in what can best be described as an underwater breeze. A curious school of fish provides an unlikely escort as you explore a secret wonderland, occasionally swooping in closer to nibble on a rising air bubble. The sun blazes overhead, but you care not, for the ocean has you wrapped in its cool, liquid cocoon. You have entered a world of peace and tranquility. All is quiet save for the sound of an indefatigable fist beating steadily in your chest. Imagine this, my friends, and you will gain a glimpse at the wonder that is snorkeling in Okinawa.

For me, this was the experience of a lifetime. In my 25 years on this planet, never have I been infected with such unbridled amazement and wonder. Well, that’s not exactly true: I was equally amazed when my dad gave me a Sega Genesis with Sonic the Hedgehog for Christmas 15 years ago. But what did I know? I was just a kid!

Of course, you came here for pictures and not the poetic ramblings of a fool in love—in love with Okinawa, that is.