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New visitor's center opens at Cape Maeda

Date Posted: 2007-06-28

After years of appeals to the Onna Village government for help, one of Okinawa's favorite dive spots has been given a facelift.

Cape Maeda's popularity spans both beaches and adjacent coves, luring recreational divers and snorkelers to the northwest coast. The influx of visitors overwhelmed existing facilities, and taxed the patience of local residents in the largely farming region.

A new visitor’s center is expected to resolve all problems at Cape Maeda, located within the Okinawa Prefecture Quasi-National Marine Park. A new building has been constructed, complete with showers and lockers. The center also has a Kabob shop and a covered area, and the small parking lot replaced with a larger one. The old parking area has been transformed into a green zone.

Steps to the entry point have been repaired, and the entry point itself redone and widened. Trees now dot the landscape where the old parking lot was. Onna Village asked NPO Okinawa Ocean Culture & Environment Network to help with environmental education and protection requirements, and local residents formed a corporation to manage the visitor’s center, parking lot and surrounding area.

“I would like to see locals and tourists both enjoy the area,” says Masahiko Afuso, the new general manager. To insure this, Afuso is underscoring Onna Village ordinances which prohibit spear guns or Hawaiian Slings at Cape Maeda, no soliciting or selling goods or services, no fighting, no jumping in the water in the caves, and no parking on adjacent farm lands.

To protect the new facility, he asks visitors not to shower in the parking lot, not to enter the facility when dripping wet, and not to use the parking lot for lounging or holding meetings.

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