Visit the biggest aquarium on the island and immerse yourself in the enthralling history of Okinawa at this huge coastal park.
Marvel at whale sharks and manta rays or watch dolphins and turtles playing in the sun at the Ocean Expo Park’s fantastic aquarium. Explore a traditional Okinawan village and spend several hours relaxing in the sun on the adjacent beach.
Built in 1976, the center provides a tribute to the international ocean exposition that took place on the island the year before. Today visit this large park consisting of displays and buildings along a 1-mile (3-kilometer) stretch of coastline.
Hop on a park shuttle bus to reach the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, one of the most impressive aquariums in Japan. Stop at the small tanks just beyond the entrance to touch colorful starfish and rare shells. Continue on to find one of the world’s first large-scale indoor exhibitions of live coral. The aquarium’s prime display is the immense Kuroshio Tank, containing a vast selection of marine life including turtles, rays and giant whale sharks. The aquarium charges a fee, although you can view outside tanks with manatees and dolphins free of charge.
Make your way to the center of the park to look around the native Okinawan village. Explore more than 20 intricately created buildings and learn how the island’s first indigenous people survived and evolved in an often challenging environment.
Be sure to stop nearby at the Oceanic Culture Museum to gain an insight into the vital role of the shipping trade in Japan and across Asia. See a replica canoe from Papua New Guinea and an exquisite model of a merchant ship from the Ryukyu Kingdom.
After a few hours on your feet, relax on beautiful Emerald Beach at the park’s north end. This long curved bay provides plenty of space to sunbathe or swim in the warm, clear sea. You will also find restaurants and stalls selling refreshments.
The Ocean Expo Park is located 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Naha. Enter the park for free, although various attractions, including the aquarium, have an admission fee. The park is open all day throughout the year.