Monday, 27 June 2016

Okinawa 4-Day Itinerary: Day One

Read Day 1 here - Cape Manzamo (万座毛), Churaumi Aquarium
Read Day 2 here - Ocean Expo Park, snorkeling in Blue Cave, Sunset Beach
Read Day 3 here - Okinawa World, Gyokusendo Cave (玉泉洞)
Read Day 4 here - Shuri Castle (首里城)

It was a goal of mine to visit all five of Japan's main islands in this year since visiting all 47 prefectures was too much. After this Okinawa 沖縄 trip, I have reached my goal and have travelled from Hokkaido 北海道, Honshu 本州, Shikoku 四国, Kyushu 九州 to Okinawa. My 4 day 3 night trip to Okinawa began at Kansai International Airport.

View from Cape Manzamo
The two hour flight arrived at Naha Airport by 1pm and the humidity hit me as soon as we left the plane. From the main terminal, I took the Yui Monorail to Kencho-mae 県庁前 station then walked down Kokusai-dori (国際通りInternational Street) to find my hostel. This is one of the busiest streets in Naha with lots of shops, restaurants and tourists.

Yui Monorail
I met up with my friends and we embarked on our road trip. Fortunately I had a friend in Naha 那覇 who owned a car and I concur with the advice online that renting a car is the best way to travel around on the main island. Buses are infrequent and currently the main bus terminal is under renovation so the bus stops are scattered around which could be confusing for tourists. There is a lot more English in Okinawa than some parts of Japan but not all signs are translated.

Our first stop of the day was to Cape Manzamo 万座毛 which was an hour drive north of Naha. The scenery was gorgeous and the ocean glistened under the glowing sun. The famous sight here was the elephant-shaped rock. There is also a diving spot called Toilet Bowl but I’m not sure how it got its name.

Elephant rock formation at Cape Manzamo
Cape Manzamo
View from Cape Manzamo
Leaving Cape Manzamo, we drove another hour to Churaumi Aquarium 美ら海水族館. Since it was after 4pm, we could pay the discounted admission fee of 1280 yen instead. The place was fairly small but the large tank was quite impressive. Although I do have to say that the lighting and design of the large tank at Sea World on Gold Coast in Australia was better. At Churaumi, you are able to go to the 4th floor to see the top of the tank which I liked because it gave a small behind the scenes view, especially during feeding time.

View from Churaumi Aquarium
Paying admission to the aquarium
Photo at the entrance
Main attraction at the aquarium
Top of the large tank
The free exhibitions at Ocean Expo Park where Churaumi Aquarium is located was closed by the time we came out at 7pm so we decided to come back the next morning. There are resort hotels and beaches at the park for you to explore but we didn’t stay long enough at the park to see those.

Beni-imo ice cream
For dessert after dinner, I had my first ice cream of the trip. The flavour was beni-imo (紅イモ purple sweet potato) which is a famous food in Okinawa. Their speciality souvenir food item is the beni-imo tart and many products from cheesecake to KitKats are also made with the beni-imo flavour. In the subsequent posts on this trip, I even try goya (ゴヤ bitter gourd) ice cream!

Read Day 1 here - Cape Manzamo (万座毛), Churaumi Aquarium
Read Day 2 here - Ocean Expo Park, snorkeling in Blue Cave, Sunset Beach
Read Day 3 here - Okinawa World, Gyokusendo Cave (玉泉洞)
Read Day 4 here - Shuri Castle (首里城)
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