Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is undoubtably Okinawa’s most popular tourist attraction. People not only from Okinawa, but from many different countries travel to the tiny island to witness what is widely known as one of the largest aquariums in the world.
The aquarium’s main attraction is its largest tank known as the Kuroshio Sea. The tank holds 1,981,000 gallons of water and features a massive viewing window which measures 24 feet by 74 feet. (You can actually see how this was built on a past episode of Modern Marvels.) This part of the aquarium is absolutely breathtaking which is why in many cases the Kuroshio Sea overshadows everything else in the aquarium. In fact I can’t remember the last time I saw a photo that wasn’t of this large tank specifically featuring a whale shark. (Note the lack of whale sharks in the image I posted.) With that being said I’m going to show you everything else that the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium has to offer.
When To Visit:
Before we start talking about fish and other creatures of the deep let’s talk about the best time to visit. Being that this is a very popular tourist attraction there really isn’t any off season meaning that there are going to be crowded days at the aquarium all throughout the year. This doesn’t mean that you have to struggle through masses of people to enjoy the fish though. For the best experience you’re going to want to head to the aquarium first thing in the morning. That’s right! I know it’s not always fun to get up early during vacation or on your day off but trust me it is well worth it. Even during my most recent trip which according to the website was during the more crowded time of year I found myself not having to wait in line to purchase tickets, see fish, use the restroom or take a photo in front of something interesting. By the time that we had gone through the entire aquarium at our own relaxed pace the crowds started rolling in and we were on our way back to the car.
There is a lot to see at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium and the fun starts right as you pass the ticket gate. Those who are hands on can touch some sea creatures in an open top tank. You can spend some up close and personal time with a few different kinds of star fish as well as some sea cucumbers. Once again this is an area which during previous visits was almost impossible to even approach but because we went to the aquarium early going right up and showing those critters some love was no problem. Once you have washed your hands it’s time to head towards the many tanks that the aquarium has featuring beautiful fish from the various habitats in the ocean. Through the various viewing windows you can see a great deal of different colorful and at times funny looking fish.
HINT: Even though the various viewing windows may look into the same tank don’t pass by too quickly without looking carefully to see the fish which might be hiding just out of sight of other windows.
As you continue to move through the aquarium there are various exhibits which offer helpful information regarding the sea creatures which you might encounter here on Okinawa. One of the exhibits shows some of Okinawa’s dangerous fish to include the lion fish, stone fish and crown of thorns star fish. Interactive displays show what they can do if you happen to get too close.
Tanks of all shapes and sizes showcase everything from the cute to the . . . . well let’s just say some of the fish looked pretty scary. There are even tanks which showcase some of Okinawa’s fresh water creatures which can be found throughout the island.
One of the interesting and educational parts of the aquarium is the Shark Research Lab also referred to as The Sea Of Dangerous Sharks. In this section you can lose yourself learning about some of the 500 known shark species in the world. The large tank located in this room features a number of sharks which you are probably familiar with but the one which caught my eye is the Bowmouth Guitarfish.
You can also find yourself taking a look at various shark jaws which are around the area, fetuses of various large creatures in the aquarium and even touch the skins from various large creatures that you see in the aquarium.
Finally once you will find yourself taking a look at the Kuroshio Sea. To be completely honest this is one of those things that you simply have to see in order to experience because nothing that I describe here in words will do it justice. Once you take a look at the tank from a distance on the available ramps go ahead and move towards the floor and take a closer look. You can really get a sense of how large these creatures are when you are looking up at them.
HINT: The large view of the tank is breathtaking and can be enjoyed for quite some time as the various creatures swim amongst each other. For the best view of the overall tank head to the back of the room. You can sit on provided chairs and take it all in.
HINT: Although the large view of the tank is something you’re not going to want to miss you can also enjoy a more up close and personal view of the fish just around the corner in a room which resembles a tunnel. Here fish swim not only in front of you but right above you.
Overall this is a great place to visit and a must see if you are here in Okinawa. And guess what. . . . This post only covers the aquarium itself not even the many other things to do and see at the Ocean Expo Park. Check back in for more on that later. Until then check the video below to see some more of the fish at the aquarium.