Our first stop is a hidden waterfall. It's a favorite spot of Alex and Kana's to cool off during the hot and humid summer months. Alex suggested that I don't bring my phone or camera because we had to walk quite a ways through a creek and scramble on and over
Once we got to the falls we ventured up and over a very steep hillside. I'm glad for all of my recent gym visits! Our hopes were to see the top of the falls. Unfortunately it isn't a highly traveled area and there were just too many spiders hanging out in the nearby branches for our comfort level. I wish I had my FitBit so I knew just how far we walked. If I had to guess, I'd say 5 or so miles round trip and maybe 10 flights of steps. Quite the workout!
After the falls, we got back in the car and headed north. The drive along the coast was gorgeous. So many lovely beaches. So many rocks jutting out of the water. So much to see. Lucky for me Kana decided to nap in the back so I had the front passenger seat which meant that the ocean was on my side of the car. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car in Japan.
At the very northern tip of the island is Cape Hedo. This is where the South China Sea on the west merges with the Pacific Ocean on the east. Kana was still sleeping (she worked the previous 17 hour night shift without a nap) so Alex and I ventured out to view the rocky cliffs.
|can you see the two oceans??|
It would have been nice to be able to explore more of the area but we had reservations at the air force Okuma Resort and the check-in desk closes early. The resort itself was quite nice. There is a small golf course, nature trails, miles of beaches, a race car track, a restaurant and many more areas we didn't get to see.
The next morning was cool and misty. Our destination for the day is the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. More gorgeous scenery on the drive. A stop on the way to get a burger and fries. It's
|how cool is this aquarium entrance!?|
This aquarium is unlike any I've been to before. The main difference is that the grounds are open (as in no entrance fee) to the public. There are several turtle tanks, a manatee tank and a dolphin show included in the free areas. We take advantage of it all.
|escalators down to the dolphins, turtles and manatees|
|this place is HUGE!|
|a private beach is included for these guys|
|there are also underwater viewing areas for these tanks|
|look at the funny humans over there with their cameras...|
|I wish he had more room :-(|
|this building is also free admission with plenty of displays to explore|
|the smaller dolphin was pushing the larger one|
|the little guys waving HI|
|I touched it, now can I have my treat?|
|the big guy says HI too :-)|
The first stop is a hands on tank. You can touch the starfish and other creatures to your hearts content. It was a popular stop for the kiddos. The aquarium is quite busy considering it's a Monday afternoon.
The next tank is much larger and is home to a small coral farm. I'm not one to read all of the signs and information blurbs. I simply stroll past and if something catches my eye, I'll snap a photo.
The lion fish was right up close. He's one of my favorites so I definitely catch him on film, err, digital media :-) A cute story: I have a drawing of a lion fish held on the front of the fridge at work by a magnet. It has been there for many years. Alex drew it for me when he was around 10 or 11 years old.
There are plenty of displays throughout the aquarium for hands on learning. Near the giant shark tank is a display of shark jars behind a sheet of acrylic. Some of the jaws have a hole so that visitors can reach inside and touch the teeth.
|I wouldn't want to be it's next meal!|
|dinner time feeding frenzy|
Here's a nerdy bit of info about Ron and me. When we go to a museum, or in this case an aquarium, we're the ones who gravitate toward the case rather than what's inside. I know it's because we make cases and work with plastic. So when I saw this, I just couldn't resist the marvelous workmanship it took to make the entire aquarium.
|the words are on the opposite side of the acrylic wall panel|
There are 15 layers of acrylic flawlessly laminated together to create the walls of the gigantic tank shown below. The sign says it is 603mm thick. That equates to 23.75".
Not only does this tank have an enormous viewing window, it has curved and angled viewing areas as well. You can see them near the bottom left area in the photo above. Without becoming too nerdy, this was the highlight of the aquarium for me :-)
There was still more to see. However, the last sections of the aquarium were focused on the deep sea creatures. The area was too dark to get decent photos.
One more stop on the way back to the apartment to get a quick pineapple ice cream cone at Pineapple Park. Yes, there really is such a place :-)