AsiaJapanNago

Northern Adventure

Nago Travel Blog

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Map of Okinawa. I've circled the areas of import.
Okinawa is a pretty small island.  However, it is a good two to three-hour drive from the Naha area (where we live) to the northern part of the prefecture (up past Nago).  There are also a lot of interesting things to see up there and not enough time in one day to see them.  So, before I came to Japan Nicole went to a travel agent and got a great deal on a hotel in Nago and booked a night for us for the weekend before she had to go back to work.  A last hurrah if you will.  

Thus, I give you our Northern Adventure...

This first morning we woke up early.  Well, for us anyway.  The plan was to get a jump on the day so we could get up north and go to Churaumi Aquarium before checking into the hotel.
Churaumi's mascot - the Whale Shark.
  We decided to get a little dressed up so that we'd be presentable when we checked in to the Busena Terrace Beach Resort.  Sound fancy schmancy?  Well, it was (but more on that later).  So, I donned my super cute and comfy little cotton black dress (thank you GAP), sparkly flip flops and oversized sun glasses and felt fabulous even at 8am; a usually impossible feat.  Nicole, looking equally fabulous (when does she not?), got us on the road and with the help of my road trip CDs we were coasting up the west side of Okinawa, enjoying the sun and the ocean view.  

By around 10:30 we reached the aquarium - one of the most popular attractions on Okinawa.  The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is part of the Ocean Expo Park and is a large, beautiful complex built right on the ocean.
Wowee wow wow.
  Inside, the aquarium showcases the sea animals that inhabit the oceans around Okinawa, mainland Japan and a few other places in the world.  They currently house a salt-water aquarium with the largest acrylic viewing window in the world.  Inside the tank are ginormous whale sharks, manta rays and many other fish types.  Outside there are tanks with sea turtles, manatees (from the US) and dolphins.

We spent the morning exploring the inside of the aquarium and ate lunch in a cafe right under the large viewing tank where the largest manta ray I have ever seen flew right over us.  After lunch we headed to see the outside creatures and to catch the afternoon dolphin shows.  The main show was your run of the mill dolphin trick show except that we couldn't understand anything they were saying.
Faux-Shamu.
  haha.  They did have these strange larger dolphins with rounded snouts that were apparently false killer whale dolphins which I had never seen before.  They were like little faux-Shamus.  

Once the show was over we wandered to the tanks where they keep the rest of the dolphins, including a very special dolphin named Fuji.  Fuji is the first dolphin to receive an artificial tail fin.  We saw her swimming around with it in the tank and it is just an amazing thing.  Read more about her story at her page on the Churaumi website.  On the far end of the dolphin lagoon, trainers were showcasing some things about the dolphins we couldn't understand, but we waited around hoping we'd have a front row view if they showcased more of their tricks.
Close enough to touch.
  And in case the picture here leaves any doubt, we were very happy we stuck around.  This close up performance was much cooler than the one in the large tank if just because if we had wanted (or been allowed) we could have easily reached out and touched those beautiful creatures.

As the dolphins waved us goodbye, a large black cloud rolled off the ocean and we decided it was time to get to the hotel.  Luckily, I think it rained for two minutes, another great thing about living on an island.  By the time we got to Busena Terrace it was sunny again, perfect for lounging on the terrace drinking hibiscus tea while the bell hop readies your luggage, the parking attendant parks your car and the front desk lady brings you the necessary paperwork to prepare your room.  Ahhh, the good life.  Having it for one night is better than nothing.
The whole Busena Terrace Beach Resort from the ocean.


Suffice it to say The Busena Terrace Beach Resort lives up to its impressive name.  Our room was beautiful with our own little terrace that looked over the white sandy beach and ocean.  Who would have thought I'd be singing "Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind." in January?  I love it.  The hotel is all open with ocean breezes in the hallway, running waterfalls built into the walls, three pools, three restaurants, a bar, an English tea room, a gym, a spa/sauna (aka the place to go if you want to hang out with naked Japanese people), and a list of available activities to participate.  There is also a very long pier that connects to an ocean observation center and a dock area with glass bottom boats and scuba rentals.
Our room at Busena.
  We decided to pay for a combination ticket for the observation center and the glass bottom boat ride.  

For the observation center we walked down a large spiral staircase and into the depths of the ocean.  There were fish to see everywhere!  A lot of them were the same black and white striped and large silver ones, but I also spotted quite a few parrotfish.  We could have stayed down there until it got dark but we had to get to the boat for the last tour of the evening.  On the boat we saw basically the same types of fish, along with some blue sea stars, sea snakes, and a whole group of puffer fish.  Between the aquarium and these two sights, we definitely had our share of ocean life this day.  It was all great though.

Wow, this is turning into the longest post ever.
Sunset during tea time.
  We just had such a great day that I want to share it all!  But, in the interest of your retinas I will sum up the rest of the night.  We had English-style tea and cakes while watching the sun set over the ocean, then we explored the hotel more, had a wonderful buffet-style dinner at La Tida - a restaurant at the hotel that overlooks the ocean, and finished the night with an awkward two-second trip to the spa area (too many naked people for us), a fully bathing-suited dip in the indoor pool and more tea out on our own terrace.  We also decided we need to marry rich.  Any takers?

Our Northern Adventure continues tomorrow...

jennjeff1 says:
Great shots of Jenny's birthplace in Okinawa, Allison! You also have a gift for writing--keep it up! Great blog! ~Jeff
Posted on: Mar 03, 2008
jennjeff1 says:
http://www.travbuddy.com/Busena-Terrace-Beach-Resort-Hotel-Okinawa-v136257

Yes, we also stayed at Busena Terrace Beach Resort Hotel Okinawa and it is that fabulous! ~Jeff
Posted on: Mar 03, 2008
lisa says:
i stayed at busena terrace too! did you take the little red trolley? heehee good memories!
Posted on: Jan 28, 2008
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Map of Okinawa.  Ive circled the …
Map of Okinawa. I've circled the…
Churaumis mascot - the Whale Shar…
Churaumi's mascot - the Whale Sha…
Wowee wow wow.
Wowee wow wow.
Faux-Shamu.
Faux-Shamu.
Close enough to touch.
Close enough to touch.
The whole Busena Terrace Beach Res…
The whole Busena Terrace Beach Re…
Our room at Busena.
Our room at Busena.
Sunset during tea time.
Sunset during tea time.
Not even wrinkled.
Not even wrinkled.
I make a new friend at the turtle …
I make a new friend at the turtle…
A special show for us (ok, and abo…
A special show for us (ok, and ab…
The staircase into the underwater …
The staircase into the underwater…
I see you.
I see you.
The view from our hotel room.
The view from our hotel room.
Nago
photo by: Chariot13