Our first full day in Okinawa and we had big plans! Go to the aquarium where they have whale sharks, see a pineapple plantation, maybe drive over to another island, AND see a friend who recently moved here with her family!
This must be why I woke up early at 6am. That and the fact I was listening to L breathe. He was having some major issues with his mouth by the end of the previous day, so I was in full doctor/mom mode. Was it worse? Did I need to try and find somewhere to take him in?
Thankfully he seemed a bit better in the morning, so we’re just continuing the salt water rinses for now, and hoping for the best.
We went downstairs for breakfast, and the spread is impressive! A huge mix of local and American types of foods. The kids were super excited to see waffles and French toast!
Then we FaceTime’d my family back in Alaska, and they were gathering for Christmas dinner. It was so nice to touch base with everyone back home. Also funny how we had already celebrated Christmas the day before.
Then we took off for the northern end of the island. Nothing here is very far away. One end of the island to the other you could drive in 2 hours. However, what we didn’t know to factor into our plans, was the speed limit, the number of other drivers, and the fact that everyone here drives so politely (SLOW). It takes us double the expected amount of time to get anywhere.
We did finally make it to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium and before we could even go in, the kids were off distracted by this awesome net play area.
This is where we started talking with this other American family. It’s pretty clear who’s from here, and who isn’t. And when you start hearing English, we always look around. They had a little boy who was 5 and very similar to L. They of course, found each other and started racing off together. So we chatted with the couple, they were based outside of Tokyo and here for a vacation. It was nice to have some adult conversation, and I know L loved having a playmate!
Inside the aquarium was some really neat displays.
Then R found us a movie to watch, that we could even listen to in English. Also in this room, was the viewing area to the Whale Sharks. It was a massive tank, filled with giant manta rays, sharks, and other large schools of fish. It was so wonderful just to sit and watch. L took about 50 photos of it on my phone. 🙂
We then sat down for lunch in these private tables they had set up right next to the giant aquarium. It felt really special when the sharks, or other fish, would swim right next to the glass.
After lunch we walked the rest of the aquarium. Saw some sea turtles, manatees, and dolphins. But the kids liked playing at this little beach access the best.
We then said our goodbyes and parted ways. We had a pineapple plantation to visit. We had heard about it earlier, but they recommended it as a kitschy version of the Dole Plantation in Hawaii. Sounded perfect to us!
Hmm – the sign doesn’t say Pineapple Plantation but I’m sure that’s not a problem. A fruits a fruit right? Umm not exactly. So we pulled into the driveway right before the pineapple place, and ended up at Okinawa Fruits Land. We honestly had no idea we weren’t in the right place for probably the first 15-20 minutes of us walking through. 🙂
Thank goodness this place turned out awesome. It had a map where we had to solve 19 questions about fruit. A king had been captured and we had to figure out 3 riddles to find him. Then we ended it by completing this very long video game and battling decay. It was extremely creative, and well thought out. Even if it wasn’t a pineapple plantation.
We then got in the car, and drove for an hour back to the middle of the island to spend time with Katrina, and her lovely family! I’ve known her since I was little, and it was such a fun coincidence that her family recently moved over here for her husbands career. They welcomed us into their home, and cooked an amazing meal for us. All of us enjoyed having some good ol’ American food again. The boys got along, quickly bonding over Pokémon. I got some awesome tattoos personally applied by their cutie daughter, while R was enjoying watching Cinderella.
It was such a wonderful break from our typical travel adventures, which are usually just us, together, all the time. We spent time with other adults, and kiddos today, which was very refreshing.
This also made for a very late night for us, as we left their house at 9pm, and didn’t get back to the hotel till after 10pm. Definitely not our norm, but well worth it.