As many of you know over the course of the past week we have been enjoying a visit from some family members. This has meant a lot of travel, exploring, shopping and eating but unfortunately not a lot of video or pictures. Luckily I was able to snap a few here and there to share with you where we went, what we did and of course what we thought of it all.
Note: This is not going to focus too much on tips and tricks for a good vacation with your family. That will come in a later post so please stay tuned.
We started off the visit rather slow taking time for the family to relax and get settled. This meant doing a bit of shopping to get last minute necessities and of course hanging out in the house recovering from the long flight.
A few short days later we hit the ground running! Our first stop was to American Village and Depot Island where we did some window shopping one morning. Most of the shops were not yet open but it was an opportunity to see what shops were around and what they had available well before the crowds started rolling in. In my opinion visiting this area early in the morning before everything starts to open is a great way to see what shops are around without fighting the crowds because this area can become very crowded.
Once 11AM rolled around it was time to head to the C1 Gourmet Battle. This event is relatively new and happens in American Village in front of the baseball field. The event is one where you can eat food from various restaurants around Chatan and determine which one is the best. We had a few different options to try and our favorite was soft shell crab tacos from Jetta Burger.
The event was a lot of fun but I do not think that I would attend this event alone. It is best enjoyed with a group of people where everyone can nibble and try different dishes. With only three tickets being ¥1000 and some places taking more then one ticket to get a dish the price of the event (at least in my opinion) is way too costly to eat all day long.
One of the places we visited which turned out to be a big hit was Neo Park. Neo Park, if you’ve never heard of it before, is a place where you can walk among a number of birds and animals. There are hundreds of them that you can feed and enjoy being around. This was an obvious choice for a day trip with my father-in-law who absolutely loves all things nature, bugs and birds. Being close up to all the animals secured about 5 hours of enjoyable entertainment.
I have already wrote about Neo Park in the past so you can check out that blog and video but if you missed it here’s a bit of a recap of what you might see during your experience there.
In various parts of the park you can enjoy some up close and personal time with a variety of birds and other animals that are around. This is an example of one of the huge birds which was behind a fence. As you can see it’s a barrier but it’s not much of a fence really.
There are also other animals which you can spend time with like this tiny little kangaroo type animal. I am not sure what they are called but they are tiny, soft and enjoy being around you and snacking a snack.
There were an array of other animals to include pigs (see pig faces below).
Ostriches were also hanging around.
Near the middle of the route through Neo Park is a petting zoo where we went to visit some of our friends including Tom the pig and this super cute baby goat. I took a picture with it. I have this thing for baby goats and goats in general. There is no particular reason, they are cute and they are soft.
Aside from the goat we had the chance to see capybara again which are another one of my very favorite. Capybara are one of the animals that you can’t go in the pen with for some obvious reasons but you can feed them which is a lot of fun.
The turtle was also a huge hit with the entire family. We could get in the pen with him, pet him and even sit on him (if you’re a kid that is). We noticed that if you pat his neck he will stretch it out and then stand up. Unfortunately when I was trying to get this picture he was getting ready to walk away.
Tom the pig, Rusty’s favorite animal in the petting zoo.
We also had the chance to get up close and personal with some turkeys which came right up to us this time. This was honestly the scariest bird experience that I have ever had in my entire life. One thing you might not realize about turkeys is that they are actually really tall. This one actually was able to stretch almost 4 feet tall when it was trying to get some breadcrumbs from Rusty.
We also had the chance to experience the illumination over at Kokusai Street. This included a christmas tree which was lit as well as the entire station which was strung with beautiful white lights. This is just one of the many illuminations which will start popping up around the island (and around the country) within the next few months.
Kokusai Street provided us with a variety of other fun experiences to include a trip to Jump Station Okinawa. This is a manga and anime shop located in one of Okinawa’s most popular shopping areas for tourists. The shop has something for everyone who likes manga and anime.
Jump Station Okinawa was a must visit for our family members because of their love for anime from the Jump company including One Piece, Bleach and Naruto.
For our Thanksgiving dinner we enjoyed a meal with a twist heading to Tonneau which is a popular restaurant among tourists. I personally thought that this was going to be a great experience because we had enjoyed trips to Tonneau in the past but unfortunately we had probably the worst dining experience of our entire trip (for me the worst experience of the entire year).
I already talked about this restaurant in a post but to sum it up the food was horrible, the service was horrendous and the price was absolutely outrageous for the small amount of food that we ordered. Of course there were a few things that our family members liked but nothing was what I would call “notable” and a few days later when we went to some new restaurants they finally admitted that it seemed horrible compared to the other restaurants we visited.
Ocean Expo Park was another one day excursion that we took when which turned out to be a wonderful experience. People often forget that Ocean Expo Park has a variety of things to do and experience other then just the aquarium. One of our stops included the Tropical Dream Center (I’ve talked about this before too) which was a great experience. There were orchids, trees, and a variety of other plants as well.
There are also a variety of other exhibits which are available for limited times at the Tropical Dream Center which thins time was for a particular plant which I do not know the name of. The plant has a beautiful variety of colors my favorite being the pink ones in the picture above.
Loads of orchids also fill the greenhouses of the Tropical Dream Center (not only during the APOC events) and were again perfect for our family to enjoy because of their love for plants like orchids.
The aquarium was on our list of places to visit including a special behind the scenes look at the world’s second largest fish tank. This is an amazing place to visit from the front side but taking a look at the back side of it, the place that people don’t see on a regular was, was absolutely spectacular.
We took some time to visit some not so common sites to including the Agena Castle Site which now has a huge playground. They have a spectacular new dinosaur playground structure which I couldn’t resist the urge to take a photo with.
This pretty much concludes the trip that we had. There were a lot of experiences that we shared together and I think it’s accurate to say that a lot of fun was had by everyone. Of course there were a lot of tips and tricks that we tried out that we will in fact share with you in order to make your future family visits even more enjoyable! Be sure to stay tuned for more posts in the near future and we’ll see you around!