Our final day in Okinawa had come faster than we’d wanted it to but we’re excited to move on to our next country (China) tomorrow. We debated staying in at the hotel to have a nice peaceful day or exploring, and opted for the latter- setting our sights on a “theme park”, the aquarium, and a pizza spot recommended by Taylor C. (it is Pi Day of course)
We got a nice solid foundation from the breakfast buffet and jumped in the car and made our way to the theme park. The theme park was called Pineapple Park and was dedicated to the pineapple. If you’ve never been to Asia before, you’ll be unaware to just how much better the pineapple is here relative to back home- it’s almost like an entirely different fruit. Given the amount of pineapple consumed over the past week and my affinity for the fruit (Debbie’s mom made me a pineapple bowl), we found it fitting and necessary to spend our final day here.
It was certainly a destination for many and not just these two stupid Americans falling for another tourist trap. Upon entering the park, you had to navigate a maze for 5 minutes to get to the parking deck as you went behind what you’d later discover to be the actual park you’d be walking through. Upon parking, you were “greeted” by the Pineapple Parking Express to not only take you on a brief tour of the park/provide history, but also transport you to the entrance of the park (note everything on the entrance was in Japanese).
Once we got our tickets, we made our way into the park and the first attraction was a private pineapple golf-cart to have another 10 minute explanation of the different types of pineapple, this time, in English. We learned that there were over 2,000 types of pineapples but that only 200 of them were edible. After the golf-cart ride, we ended up in a cafe where we had our first snack of the day- a pineapple puff pastry filled with cream, and a coffee. Little did we know that it would be the first of many delicious treats in the hour we’d be there.
We continued to make our way through the structured theme park and every turn further validated our choice to visit the park. From the field with the giant pineapple to the sky-bridge to the endless opportunities for goofy photos, this may have gone down as the best $15 we’ve spent so far. Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better, we discovered the theme park song (this was in English, it was in Japanese) welcoming you into the tasting room. The tasting room was full of various pineapple wines (never even knew there was such a thing) as well as tons of different kinds of pies and cakes. I did have to lie to say I wasn’t driving so I could sample the wine (they have a zero tolerance policy) but after the 10 different cake samples the minuscule amount of wine was surely not an issue. We finished our way through the theme park and boarded the pineapple express to make our way to the second stop of the day.
The aquarium was only a 25 minute drive from Pineapple Park and proved to be the most difficult parking challenge for us yet as the parking garage was full of folks. Unlike most other aquariums we’ve been to, this one was situated in the middle of something called Ocean Expo Park and the Aquarium was only part of the attraction here. We made our way through the aquarium first and it was as packed as advertised. It used to be the biggest in Asia until the one in Singapore opened up and was full of plenty of nice fish. Our two favorite stops inside were the very large tank (had 2 whale sharks and tons of stingrays) as well as the shark tank. We enjoyed watching the fish for a while before making our way outside for the dolphin show. We got there 20 minutes before it started and the theater was already packed but the show was actually worth watching. Once more, we were able to follow about 0% of what was being said but enjoyed watching the dolphins do their tricks. We were now very hungry as pineapple park hadn’t been a sufficient lunch and made our way to destination number 3.
Our final stop was a combination recommendation from Taylor C (friends from Tokyo) and also a recognition of Pi Day. We drove up this mountain down some very windy roads to reach the restaurant sitting atop a beautiful perch. While our table didn’t have a view of the sky (I had a great view, see photo below), we did love the ambiance in the restaurant and were able to get a nice photo afterwards. The menu was written on a fan and they only had two choices- cheese or meat/vegetable mix (never seen such a limited menu before). We scarfed down more than we needed before making our 1-hour journey back to the hotel.
After our adventure filled day, we made our way to the final sunset bar happy hour experience and decided to pack before swimming once more and then deciding to go to yakinuki one more time. While it was a chain and the quality wasn’t as good as the one near the hotel, we had a blast grilling our own food for as much as you could eat for 90 minutes. We made a variety of beef, chicken, (kosher) bacon, and the hidden MVP of the night these (very buttery) sweet potatoes that came in their own little container. We returned to the hotel to finish packing as our Japanese adventure had officially come to an end.
Next on the docket- Leaving Japan and headed for Chengdu China (panda capital of the world, heart of the Sichuan region)