One fine day, I suddenly woke up and decided to go on a birthday trip, and on the very night, I booked a flight to Okinawa, and that was like less than 3 weeks prior to departure. I spent a few nights planning my itinerary and booking hotels. One friend came to know about my trip and wanted to tag along, and so I spent another few nights making adjustments to the itinerary and hotels. Though it has been years since I last planned a trip, I was quite satisfied with it, as I was able to keep to my budget, while at the same time covered all places that I wanted to visit 😀
For tourists who wanted to visit Okinawa F&E, it is always more advisable to rent a car, as the transportation system in this island is still not very developed. However, for people who can’t drive, like myself (although I hold a driving license), travelling in Okinawa F&E is not a mission impossible too 🙂
We reached Naha international airport via China Airlines (booked thru Expedia) transit at Taipei. The domestic airport is right beside the international airport.
The monorail station is linked to the domestic airport. It is quite easy to buy the monorail ticket although we don’t understand Japanese.
We are going to Asahibashi station, which is 5 stations away from the airport station.
Our hotel for the night in Naha is Hotel Yuquesta Asahibashi. We chose this hotel cos’ it’s right across the road from the Asahibashi station, and the Naha bus interchange is right behind the Asahibashi station.
We topped up 800 yen each to have this exquisite and delicious set breakfast. All our hotels were booked thru Expedia as there are special discounts given for booking the air tickets.
Naha is in the South of the island, and in order to move towards the North, where there are some sightseeing places that I wanted to visit, I decided to join a day tour. We signed up online for this tour organized by Okinawa Travel Info (http://okinawatravelinfo.com/tour/okinawa_bus_churaumi_nakijin/).
It was pretty challenging to locate this tour agency, cos’ my sense of direction is really bad. We asked around in the bus interchange, and one kind soul brought us there 🙂 Some staffs in the agency are able to speak Chinese and some can speak English, but the tour guide who went with us for the day tour can only speak Japanese lol. The funny thing is majority of the people in the tour bus are actually non-Japanese, and so most of us were sleeping while the guide was talking. The guide had to show us paper notes in English when she wanted to convey something important, and flashed a card to indicate the time to gather before we got off the bus for each destination 🙂
Our 1st scenic spot is Manzamo (万座毛), literally meaning big enough for 10,000 people to sit. We can see the ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort from here. I was planning to stay in this hotel, but it was fully booked 😦
A buffet lunch, which includes mostly Okinawan cuisine, was provided as part of the tour.
After lunch was free & easy time at the Ocean Expo Park.
We went straight to the Churaumi Aquarium (沖縄美ら海水族館), which is one of the main tourist attractions in Okinawa.
“Churaumi” means “clear, beautiful seas” in the Okinawa language, and indeed i was really intrigued by the colorful and attractive world of marine life 😀
Next, we visited the Nakijin Castle (今帰仁城) ruins, which was once the residence of the Ryukyuan Kingdom governor. It is now a National Historic Site and a World Heritage Site.
The last tourist spot for this sightseeing tour bus was the Nago Pineapple Park (ナゴパイナップルパーク). It seemed not the season yet, and so we were brought to their shop which sells all sorts of pineapple products… pie, jam, tarts, wine, juice, and even kawaii soft toys.
We left the sightseeing bus group and took a taxi to our hotel (Hotel Yugaf Inn Okinawa), which is just 10 mins from the Pineapple Park.
There is a cozy little eatery right opposite our hotel, where we had our dinner for 2 nights.
We topped up about 1,500 yen each for the hotel buffet breakfast.
After breakfast, we took a cab to the Glass House in the Forest (森のガラス館), which is less than 10 mins away.
You can watch the professional glass artisans at work, or try out the glass making too.
We spent most of our time in this shop that sells beautiful and colorful Ryukyu glassware, after which we had a taste of their famous Blue Seal ice cream.
Right opposite the glass house is this red little building selling pottery.
These 2 Shisas are by far the “scariest” I have seen.
The pottery house, on the other hand, is selling such cute shisas.
Back to our hotel to rest, and to keep our shopping bags before we went out exploring again.
These 3 words can be seen at some intersections, which are believed to drive off evil spirits.
My personal collection of “石敢当” that i saw in this trip 🙂
Took a cab to the Orion Beer Nago Factory (オリオンハッピーパーク) which is just about 10 mins away from our hotel. We had asked the hotel staff the day before to help us booked for an afternoon tour.
Orion is Okinawa’s iconic beer brand, and is the most widely consumed beer in Okinawa. The 40-min factory tour was conducted in Japanese. Although we don’t understand, we were happy to get 2 glasses of free beer at the end of the tour.. heehee
Back to our favourite eatery, Yukino, for dinner.