Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Churaumi Aquarium and Okinawa Beer Garden

Yesterday we were able to enjoy the day off with Chris by heading up north to Ocean Expo Park.

Beware - inoshishi!
Our original destination was just the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium but we were pleasantly surprised by how big Ocean Expo Park is.  In fact, we could have spend the entire day on free activities and still had a blast!

Ocean Expo Park's Fountain Plaza
After playing in the fountains, we headed down towards the aquarium.  The boys loved watching the turtles and the manatees in the outside pools.

Then we headed into the Main Rest House, a small museum underneath the aquarium.  (We later figured out that we were going backwards and we should have started with the aquarium and ended with the museum and outdoor exhibits - oops!)

Lion fish (with toddler finger)

Watching the garden eels

The aquarium's main attraction - the giant whale shark
After the aquarium, we headed back towards the parking lot and stopped at the Kids' Adventure Land.  This playground had several areas for kids of all ages.

Owen climbing on the nets

Isaac in the baby play area
After spending all afternoon, we still had plenty left to do - the Tropical Dream Center, the Banko Forest garden, swimming at Emerald beach, the dolphins shows and exhibit, and the Native Okinawan Village.  And the only entrance fee we paid all day was for the main aquarium.  Ocean Expo Park is definitely going on our list of things to do when we're short on cash but have plenty of time.

After we left, we decided to have dinner at the Okinawa Beer Garden.  Nice but disappointing.  

Yakiniku at the Okinawa Beer Garden
I had heard about their All-you-can-drink beer special and thought this would be a nice treat for Chris.  Once we ordered, we figured out that there's only two beers - an Orion draft and a "black" beer - and only the draft is available in the bottomless glass.  I know we're spoiled coming from Portland, aka beervana, but I had higher hopes for a restaurant with beer in the title.  (Although there was a sampler tray on the menu, it's basically varying degrees of a "black and tan".)

One highlight: the family area was wonderful!  We were able to let the boys go play while we finished eating.  And there was a nice room provided just for nursing - a big plus!

All total, we spent about $125 on dinner.  For that kind of money, we could have gotten a sitter and gone to one of the local yakiniku/shabu-shabu restaurants.

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