Does it any of these sound like you?
- You know there is so much to do, eat, see in Okinawa, but you don’t know where to start.
- You are preparing for your trip to Okniawa, and you want to get the most out of your trip.
- You have seen the major touristy spots, and you want to find something unique and hidden – you know, where the locals hang out.
We are making a series of printable itineraries to help you plan, discover, and enjoy Okinawa. These itineraries are beautiful, filled with local knowledge, and printable.
Let’s Get Started
Vol. 5 – Churaumi Golden Road Trip
A golden road trip in Japanese meaning the journey most travel. This itinerary is used by most tour companies in Okinawa because it is packed with beautiful scenic spots along the way with 20-30 minute travel time in between two stops. Guests will have a busy day filled with activities while there is enough time to rest.
Let’s get started.
Kyoda Resting Area
Kyoda Resting Area is the gateway to northern Okinawa. As soon as you exit the north end of Okinawa Express Way, you will be welcomed by the beautiful Nago bay. On a sunny day, Nago bay lays along the coastline like a piece of emerald. The beautiful mix of tequila and green is the color you will never forget once you see it. Kyoda Resting Area is the best spot for a restroom break and to grab snacks for the rest of the journey. It is also a great place to shop for souvenirs and local produces. I love the food in the area, and I recommend a few local specials.
- Tempura from the tempura shop.
- Okinawa style steak from the food court.
- Aguu pork (Okinawa black fur pig) burger.
- Ice cream from the shop where the logo is a cow with six breasts.
In spring, you can also buy strawberry mochi from the mochi shop near the entrance to the main shop.
It was once Asia’s biggest aquarium and still holds the record of the biggest saltwater tank featuring three giant whale sharks. The journey inside the aquarium is straightforward. It feels like IKEA. One way in. One way out. It takes about 30-60 minutes, depending on how much you like fish.
I want to point out that the aquarium is only a small portion of the Ocean Expo Park. The park is massive, and there are other areas worth visiting.
- Churaumi Aquarium
- Tropical Botanical Garden
- Oceanic Culture Museum
- Dolphin Show
- Sea Turtle Sanctuary
- Emerald Beach
- Okinawa cultural village
- Kids playground
Most tourists visit 1+4+5+6. It takes about 2-3 hours. If you want to experience everything in the park. It will take a whole day.
Bise Fukugi Tree Forest
A few decades ago, a group of people planted 1,000 Fukugi trees in this area. Today, these trees have formed a forest. Fukugi tree is also known as the typhoon tree, for the leaves of Fukugi trees are thick and dense. The locals plant Fukugi around their houses to prevent damage to their homes.
Bise feels like a village from a fairy tale. It is pure magic. You will find peace and leave your stress behind.
If you have time, take a walk through the village. Follow the main road to enter the village, get lost, and then find a way to the ocean side. Follow the sea wall toward where you enter the forest, and you will find the exit.
Nakijin Castle Ruins
There are three things you need to know about Nakijin Castle Ruin.
- Before the beginning of the Ryukyu Era, Okinawa was divided into three territories ruled by three leaders – the Sho family in Naha, the young and ambitious Amawari in Uruma City, and the old lord whose name I forgot in Nakijin.
- When the Japanese attacked the Ryukyu kingdom in 1609, Nakijin castle was the first to be attacked and was burned to the ground.
- People these days go to Nakijin Castle Ruin to enjoy cherry blossom in January and the spectacular view of the East China Sea.
Kouri bridge connects Kouri island and Okinawa main island. It was once the longest cross-ocean bridge in Aisa. Kouri island is also known as the island of love in the local community. Okinawans believe that their gods (there is more than one god in the Okinawan culture) live among them, and the gods rest in small remote islands around the mainland of Okinawa. The locals believe there are gods who created the land and the sea, and other gods created the people of Okinawa. The gods of people making – the Okinawan version of Adam and Eva met on a beach on Kouri island, fell in love, and started making people. You can follow the sign to the beach where the gods met on the island side of the bridge.
The celebrated heart rocks are on the far side of the island. They are rocks and shape like hearts, standing in the middle of the ocean. The ugly side of the story is that two families claim to own the land leading to the rocks. They each open up a paid parking at the entrance, and they try to lure tourists into parking in their lot. You have no choice but to surrender your 500 yen to them unless you want to park further and walk to the rocks.
Haneji Resting Station
It has been a long day, and you are probably ready to head back. You can follow the way you come from and make one more stop at Kyoda resting area for some shopping and snacks.
If you want to experience something different and unique, I recommend taking the island’s east side to make a stop at Haneji Resting Station. Haneji is known for its chickens, which produce very speical eggs. I am not a chemistry major so I don’t know and don’t care how beneficial the eggs are to my soul and body, but the egg is a big deal in Haneji. How do you know you arrive at Haneji Resting Area? There is a giant egg standing outside.
I love the egg dishes in the cafe. Try the Ooyago Don (chicken and egg on rice) or chicken & egg tacos (the menu tends to change seasonally).You can see the local ladies prepare your food in the kitchen with so much care while waiting. It feels like you are in their home. The shop next to the cafe also sells many local products. It is a great place to buy fresh fruits and local produce.
It has been a long day
It is time to go home. From Haneji, you can take the expressway or the scenic Rt. 58, or Rt. 329 if you want to have more of a local experience.
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