25% of the Island is American Military Base
We travel to Hong Kong pretty much every
year to visit family. We live in Vancouver so a two hour
flight from Vancouver gets you a lot of places there are still
pretty similar to Vancouver. A two hour flight from Hong
Kong opens up many destinations that are nothing like Vancouver
(or Hong Kong). This year we decided to visit Okinawa for a
Our plan was basically broken up into two
parts - three days at a resort closer to the big city and then 4
days in a vacation rental further from the big city. We took
an 11am flight from Hong Kong and by the time we landed, got our
things and got our rental car, it was nearly four pm. It was
slow traffic for more than an hour until the last few minutes to
the resort. We went to the buffet restaurant at the resort
(coupon combo!) and got the kids to bed.
The next morning we woke up an surveyed
our surroundings. The resort is a destination for weddings -
there are up to seven weddings a day here. There are two one
site beach front churches and lots of grounds for an outdoor
wedding. There is some beach and some birds around.
The weather isn't excellent so we decided to take advantage of the
hotel pool. It's big and has very strict rules about
covering up tattoo's. Being a resort, there is a full time
staff to give you towels and keep things tidy.
Our Hotel is close to Cape Zanpa - a park and lighthouse at the
edge of the island. It's always windy and there is a never
ending train of waves crashing into the rocks.
Helen of course wanted to try the local shopping. The kids
and I can't take hours of shopping, so we tried to break it up
with trips to the playground.
Mark arrived on a Thursday afternoon so we drove into Naha to for
lunch and a bit of shopping before we went to the airport.
Naha has a "shopping street" - Kokusai Dori where you can find
souvenirs and fancy shoe stores. We found a restaurant
catering to Americans (the kids wanted hot dogs) which was something
like a BBQ joint.
We picked up Mark and took the expressway up to Nago where we would
spend the next few days.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is one of the
largest in the world. It has several whale sharks in an
enormous tank. It's clearly the pride of Okinawa - there
signs giving driving directions from an hour away. It's hard
to image visiting Okinawa without trying to get a visit in.
The Aquarium has several large halls, each
with different exhibits. You start in an area covering the
reefs and fish that live in the Okinawa area. These exhibits
are really well maintained with large beautiful fish. Even
though these tanks aren't are star attraction, serious money has
been spent making large, representative scenes.
The mega tank is the star of the show. The whale sharks are
joined by other very large fish (rays, sharks and others).
The massive front window gives you an unlimited view, but there is
a restaurant at the side that gives you a "lunch with fish" view.
Nago Castle Park
Helen wasn't feeling that well so we decided
to spend a day close to home. There is a good sized
playground at the on the ground where the Nago Castle once
stood. Not a lot of parking, but a decent number of kids out
Shaved ice is something I associate with tropical destinations so
I took the kids out for shaved ice in Nago. Of course the
pile of shaved ice was bigger than their heads (kids sizes aren't
universal in Japan) but the kids tried valiantly to eat it
I have a bit of a problem when it comes to dinners. Mark and
Helen are both foodies and they had a list of cuisines and
restaurants like I have a list of experiences and beaches.
When we go to dinner, their cameras are out taking photos of nice
food. All of us taking photos makes us look like crazy
tourists. In Japan this might be okay - I once wondered if
it was okay to take a photo of the food and looked up to see every
other couple in the restaurant doing the same thing. That
said, every person and at every seat is a bit much. For
dinner, you get Helen's photos.
Another evening, we went out to conveyer belt sushi. We
actually had to go to a few - the earlier ones had huge lineups and
we didn't have an hour to wait. The place we finally
were seated in was a little higher scale but not very
traditional. Putting brown sauce on grilled meat is not what
sushi was originally about.
After we spent one day at the Aquarium, I
wanted to spend another day poking around the smaller islands
connected by long bridges. Somehow I picked these two
hearts on the far side of an island as the "farthest point" where
we drove to first and then made our way back. This was
actually a pretty busy tourist destination - multiple parking lots
charged different rates and offered different services. We
stayed at the cheapest parking lot that also had a hose for
cleaning the sand off your shoes.
As we were driving around the island back to the bridge I noticed
a predator on a tree at the side of the road. Parking wasn't
great so we wound up getting out of the van closer than the bird
liked. It was still nice to see bird other than a city bird.
Our next stop was Kouri beach on
Kouri Island. This is a small island with the longest bridge
in Okinawa - the Kouri bridge. The water was nice enough, but
not many people were going in for a full swim. Being Canadian,
our kids thought the water was fine.
In the parking lot there was a small restaurant serving more
traditional Japanese food - mostly grilled items and soup.
Having a beer next to a beach is a great experience.
I kept hoping for a great sunset from the balcony of our place and
the weather never really cooperated. I spent so much time out
on the deck hoping to get a good shot, I didn't get a photo at
all. Nara and I did got for a walk on the sea wall and spotted
some local wildlife.
Tags: Japan(23), beach(7), playground(6), aquarium(6), pool(3), swimming(3)
People: Claira(8), Nara(5)
From: John Harvey Photo > Okinawa
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Okinawa
Last Modified Tuesday, June 12th, 2018 at 23:00:25 Edit
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