ITINERARIES Tropical Adventure in Okinawa Visit an aquarium home to whale sharks and explore the forests of Okinawa's main island
Discover the diversity of Okinawa's sea life and enjoy nature at a national park.
- Come face to face with a whale shark
- Go canoeing through a mangrove
- Encounter native Okinawan animals
How to Get There
Located in Ocean Expo Park, Churaumi is home to over 25,000 different fish. In its massive main tank, you can see whale sharks, manta rays, and countless other fish. The aquarium is open from 7:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. and is busiest at midday. Be sure to set aside several hours to see everything.
Also located in Ocean Expo Park, the Tropical Dream Center exhibits many of the local plants, fruits, and flowers native to Okinawa. There is also a giant lotus floating in a pond as well as greenhouses featuring over 2,000 orchids. In the center of the grounds, there is a charming little tower offering views of the ocean.
Located just north of Churaumi Aquarium is an area where the traditional homes of Okinawa remain unchanged. Stroll among the Fukugi (Garcinia Trees), that were planted to protect the homes from storms. The trees line up along the road for three kilometers and are a site unique to Okinawa.
The Yanbaru region is home to many different animals. Local guides offer a variety of short night tours that will take you on an after-sunset hike when many of Okinawa's native animals are most active. Speak with your hotel concierge to help you arrange a hike. Most hikes run between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Hiji Otaki Falls is at the end of a 1.5-kilometer hiking trail. The trail is quite easy, and the steep parts have well-maintained stairs. The trailhead has a parking lot and can be reached by bus or rental car. The trail is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is 500 yen. Last entry is at 4 p.m.
This park is in an area where the Ryukyu people would pray for prosperity, good harvests, and safe seas. It is rich with strange and unusual rock and tree formations thanks to protruding layers of limestone. The park is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with last entrance at 4:30 p.m. Admission is 1,200 yen.
This park is located in a marsh where seawater and freshwater mix together. You can see a woodland mangrove unique to subtropical zones. Enjoy a walk along the promenade to view the mangroves, or if you're feeling a little more adventurous, you can view them from a canoe.
NEO Park Okinawa, a 25-minute drive from Higshimura Fureai Park in the city of Nago, is a zoo featuring the animals of tropic and subtropic zones. Sections of the zoo recreate the Amazon jungle, the dry forests of Oceania and others. The park features freshwater ponds, tropical flowers, and many exotic animals.
Located a 10-minute drive from NEO Park Okinawa is the Nago Pineapple Park. Okinawa is famous for a smaller but very sweet type of pineapple, and this park is dedicated to the cultivation of pineapples in the region. Take a walk through the park and learn all about pineapples and sample some as well.