We spent a full day at the Ocean park and I'm pretty sure I could have spend a couple of days exploring the place - I LOVE aquariums and lucky for us the weather was brilliant. In fact I intentionally chose Okinawa for some fun sun times, even though November is one of the cooler months, the temperature was still pushing 30 degrees which is heat wave temperature in my books!
In order to get to the Ocean Expo Park from Naha, you either need to take the bus or hire a car. We took the bus route as to avoid driving with some severe jet-lag, otherwise from what I saw, driving around Okinawa should be fairly simple, highways don't get too fast and they drive on the same side of the road us so definitely a good option for next time when I decide to take a longer relaxing holiday there! :D
The quickest bus is the Yanbaru Express Bus - there is no English on the website but I used google translate to find times and prices, it took us roughly 2 hours to get there and it cost us 1900 JPY per bus ticket (about £14).
We went to the Churaumi Aquarium first, it was already busy at 9 in the morning, albeit it was a Saturday but definitely I hope to go back to this aquarium on an off-peak day. I imagine it would be a rather relaxing place when its quiet.
After walking through the ticket gates, like a child, I ran straight to the tank of star fish, of course I was surrounded by school kids, and stuck my hand in the water to touch and poke at all the poor sea life. It is genuinely not as gross as you would think it'd be.
Some quick sketches of the sea life we got to see. It was very busy so I had to do quick little drawings and then move out of the way for all the other tourists, again another reason why I'd love to go back when its quiet, so I can then draw for hours.
Now this is main reason for any trip to Okinawa, the showstopper of the entire Ocean Park! The tank carries roughly 9000000 litres of water and 26000 creatures. There is a fantastic seating area and a cafe round the other side of the tank for you to marvel at the sea life for as long as you want.
Fun family food is all you'll really find at the Ocean Park, not that I'm complaining, and the lunch I dug into was a Taco Rice. It is precisely what it claims to be - a mince taco filling with lettuce, cheese and salsa, topped onto some Japanese sushi rice. This is an Okinawan dish derived from the American/Mexican influence. I was expecting to enjoy it for the junk food that it was, followed usually by that yucky feeling of regret afterwards but this actually tasted really good. It's definitely a recipe I could easily replicate at home and of course a hot day at the park wouldn't be complete without some ice cream - mango flavoured on the screen left, purple sweet potato on the right, another Okinawan specialty.
Of course the Dolphin Show is a must.
Okinawa Ocean Expo Park is a LARGE park. Between the Aquarium, Museum and Tropical Dream Center, take the time to just wander around the park. The whole area is surrounded by the ocean, which means every view is a stellar view.
In Okinawa November to February/March is 'winter' season so not only will there be a lot less water sports available but beaches in general are closed. Emerald Beach at Ocean Park is not technically closed to the public, however swimming and entering the water is prohibited, which means that the beach is as good as closed. Not of course for beach-deprived old me - it was an afternoon of lounging around on a gorgeous DESOLATE white sand beach.