How much of the vast Ocean Expo Park (where Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is located) can we see in a day?
My name is Umi, an editor, and this time I used Okinawa Airport Shuttle’s first and the last bus of the day to experience its convenient and comfortable trip. Here’s my report on the new express bus that connects Naha and the northern area!
The first bus of the day leaves from Naha’s prefectural government building north exit at 8:20am. The bus stop is located on the south side of Palette Kumoji (the building with Ryubo department store inside). Local and regional buses depart from this area.
Okinawa Airport Shuttle’s first bus arrives at Kinenkoen Mae at 10:47am. The two-hour bus ride went by so fast in the spacious shuttle with scenic view.
This time I got off at the last stop, Hotel Orion Motobu Resort & Spa.
I entered State-run Okinawa Memorial Park (Ocean Expo Park) from the Bise Gate, which is a short walk from the bus stop. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is located inside this park.
Emerald Beach opens up before your eyes just inside the gate!
This is the quintessential churaumi (beautiful ocean)!! As soon as I saw the white sandy beach and the blue ocean, I was tempted to take off my shoes and run off.
The island you see in the distance with the beautiful mountain is Ie Island.
From perfectly clear to darker blue, the water between me and Ie Island has layers of color. There is a bit of white just at the foot of the mountain—a sure sign of more white beaches!
Swimming season is from April to October. I regretted not bringing my bathing suit…!
I walked towards the aquarium, feeling the ocean breeze and enjoying the bright blue water. I headed first to the Manatee Pool and the Sea Turtle Pool, which are both free. The manatees and the turtles were so adorable!
And now to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium!
You’ll be able to see all kinds of marine life at Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium.
Right by the entrance, there is a touch tank with creatures of “inoh,” or shallow water in Okinawan dialect. Kids and adults were fascinated by the strange texture of starfish and sea cucumbers!
The Sea of Tropical Fish tank uses real sunlight. This enables you to see the tropical fish swimming in near-natural lighting.
There’s also a tank with spotted garden eel.
The highlight, of course, is the enormous Kuroshio Sea tank.
Aquariums that keep multiple whale sharks in one tank are rare.
At Ocean Blue café, you can enjoy the magnificent view of the Kuroshio Sea tank with light meals and drinks.
Check out Okichan Theater, too. It’s a dolphin show located near Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium.
There are many other things to see in the park, like Okinawan traditional architecture displayed in Traditional Okinawa Village and the planetarium at Oceanic Culture Museum.
Okinawa Airport Shuttle’s last bus leaves Kinenkoen Mae at 7:02pm. Depending on the time of the year, you might see the sunset during your stay at the Ocean Expo Park. You’ll also be able to see a beautiful sunset from the water fountain near the central gate, which is close to the bus stop.
Okinawa Airport Shuttle runs mainly along the coast. You’ll be able to take in the magnificent view of the ocean and the sky from the bus window, as they gradually turn gold or crimson.
Other than Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium and Emerald Beach, I also visited Bise Fukugi Tree Street on the same trip. Coming up next is the rest of my report on the busy-and-super-fun day trip. A full itinerary is possible with the express bus, which connects Naha with the north!
A one-day itinerary to go from Naha to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium using Okinawa Airport Shuttle (Okinawa’s new express bus)
◆ Okinawa Airport Shuttle, headed towards Onna/Churaumi Aquarium
Departure from Prefectural Government Building North Exit, 8:20am (the first bus of the day)
➡ Arrival at Kinenkoen Mae (Churaumi Aquarium), 10:47am
Departure from Naha Airport Domestic Terminal, 9:00am (9:01am for International Terminal)
➡ Arrival at Kinenkoen Mae (Churaumi Aquarium), 11:42am
◆ Okinawa Airport Shuttle, departing time of the last bus headed towards Onna/Naha Airport
Hotel Orion Motobu Resort & Spa, 7:00pm
Kinenkoen Mae (Churaumi Aquarium), 7:02pm
➡ Asahibashi Ekimae, arrival at 9:42pm
■ Emerald Beach
No fee for swimming.
Coin lockers available.
The shop rents out beach umbrella, chairs, floats, life jackets, and other items. Beach volleyball equipment available.
■ Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
8:30am – 6:30pm from October to February (last admission: 5:30pm),
8:30am – 8:00pm from March to September (last admission: 7:00pm)
Admission fee (regular fee):
high school student ¥1,230,
elementary and middle school student ¥610,
free for children of age 6 or younger.
(Discount available for certain time of the day. Check their website for more details.)
The website is in Japanese, English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), and Korean.
It can be accessed from smartphones as well. Brochure, facility map, and program schedule can be downloaded there.
■ Transportation inside the Ocean Expo Park
Shuttles with wheelchair lift and electric carts run throughout this large park.
It is ¥100 per ride, or ¥200 for one-day pass (unlimited rides).
You can board or get off at any of the shuttle/cart stops. The picture shows one of the electric carts.
* The above information on the State-run Okinawa Memorial Park (Ocean Expo Park) and Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is current as of July 2018.
* Okinawa Airport Shuttle’s schedule is subject to change depending on traffic.
* The content of the article is current as of July 2018, and it is subject to change without notice.