Last week, I blogged about the well-known Churaumi Aquarium. Because Churaumi Aquarium is so well-known, many people think that Okinawa Ocean Expo Park and Churaumi Aquarium are the same thing. But in actual fact, Churaumi Aquarium is just one attraction in the much larger Okinawa Ocean Expo Park!
Unfortunately, I did not realize this before my trip and only allocated half a day of our short 5-days Okinawa trip for the area.
Below are the attractions that you can find at Okinawa Ocean Expo Park, and you can find out more about them from the official website.
What I am going to highlight in this post are some amazingly FREE stuff we got to see at Okinawa Ocean Expo Park in our limited time. Yup, totally FREE!
There were many replicas of marine animals around the Okinawa Ocean Expo Park. Try spotting them for great photo memories!
Frankly, the summer heat was too much for me to bear and killed my mood for photo-taking. But when we saw this board where we could stick our faces in, we simply could not resist.
Churaumi Plaza (Main Rest House)
The Churaumi Plaza was located on the first floor of Churaumi Aquarium. While the aquarium was a paid attraction, this plaza was free to enter. It doubled up as a rest house, with seats and air-condition for visitors to take a break.
The most eye-catching exhibits were the fossils of dinosaur-age marine creatures. The boys love dinosaurs, as I have highlighted in our trip to Singapore’s Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. What is great about the exhibit here is that the boys got to touch some of these fossils!
Overall, the exhibit here tended to encourage interactive learning. For example, to show visitors the difference between how dolphins and sharks used their tails, there was a showcase with a dolphin and shark where you could wiggle their tails.
Another one the boys loved, was the next one, that showed how fast each sea creature swam relative to each other when you turn the wheel.
There were also many boxes that reminded me of Fear Factor. Where you were to stick your hands into boxes, not knowing what was inside.
Well, thank goodness there were no live creatures, otherwise I think I would freak out if something slimy touched my hands.
Right outside the Churaumi Plaza was the manatee pool. Free of charge as well.
To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with the manatee pool at all. Maybe if I had never seen a manatee before, I would be pretty intrigued. But I was once an annual pass holder for Singapore River Safari which had a HUGE tank of manatees. So this one paled in comparison.
Sea Turtle Pool
Now this was much more interesting than the manatee pool in my opinion. It housed numerous huge sea turtles!
Head downstairs to escape the heat and get a closer view of the turtles.
We were just in time for the feeding when we were there!
The kids absolutely loved the sea turtle pool!
Okinawa’s Best Kept Secret – Sea Turtle Beach
If you take a look at the Okinawa Ocean Expo Park website, the sea turtle beach was not one of the attractions listed. In fact, I would have totally missed it if not for the fact that I had a stroller. We were trying to get to the Manatee pool, and most people just walked in from its main entrance. But because I had a stroller, I looked for a detour to push the stroller down via a ramp. That was when I spotted the inconspicuous sign for the sea turtle beach.
We headed down the beach to check it out and saw some people walking towards the cave on the far end of the beach.
Turned out that there were some sea turtle eggs there!!
There was a sign telling us when the eggs were laid (with a photograph of the turtles’ footprints on the sand taken on that day), and when the eggs were expected to hatch. So cute right?? I can’t believe we almost missed this! So remember: the sea turtle beach is located near the ramp for the manatee pool. Don’t forget to drop by to check out the turtle eggs if you visit!
Saving the best for the last, there was a dolphin show at Okinawa Ocean Expo Park that was absolutely FREE! Can you believe it? A FREE dolphin show??
The show here did not lack the spectacle that dolphin shows at other paid attractions around the world had!
And it was not just the bottlenose dolphins performing. There was this other specie of dolphin in the show. I’m no dolphin expert so I shan’t embarrass myself by trying to identify it and just admit I don’t know what dolphin it was. Whatever it was, it sure helped to up the WOW factor!
So even if you think you have visited enough aquariums around the world to last a lifetime and don’t wish paying to visit any more aquariums, pop by Okinawa Ocean Expo Park to enjoy this dolphin show. Especially if you are in Okinawa with kids. The kids would love it! Fun for FREE!
Information on Okinawa Ocean Expo Park
Telephone number: +81 980-48-2741 (key in 0980482741 for GPS)
Map Code (what is this?): 553075797
- By car from Naha Airport (2 hours)
- By Yanbaru Express Bus from Naha Airport (3 hours)
Buses from other parts of Okinawa such as Nago are available. But generally, public buses are not very frequent. Self-driving is recommended in Okinawa.
Opening Hours: The opening hours of the attractions at Okinawa Ocean Expo Park varies by attraction. Visit the official website for opening hours of individual attractions.
Admission Fees: Admission to Okinawa Ocean Expo Park is generally free. But some individual attractions, such as Churaumi Aquarium, Tropical Dream Centre and Oceanic Culture Museum have admission fees. Visit the official website for admission fees of individual attractions.
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