Turn off route 329 in the centre of Okinawa City, drive past the junk yards and you’ll discover Japan’s largest outdoor botanical gardens – the Southeast Botanical Gardens. In fact, this place was recently voted Japan’s top attraction in TripAdvisor 2022 Traveler's Choice Awards ‘Best of the Best Tour Activity’ and fourteenth in the whole of Asia.

With more than 30,000 plants and animals including capybaras, squirrel monkeys, guinea pigs and the recently added-meerkats there is plenty to see for plant and animal lovers alike. Some of the popular spots are the insta-famous Alexander Palm Avenue and the beautiful lotus pond which blooms at the beginning of summer. We also love the large open grassy area where the kids can run about and climb up into the tree house. The whole place is big – spread over a hundred acres, so comfortable shoes are definitely recommended. There are also wheelchairs and strollers available to use free of charge. Other notable facilities include the fishing pond, craft area, buffet-style restaurant Peace and a nursing room.

For those who want to visit the Southeast Botanical Gardens more than once a year, I would recommend purchasing the annual passport for about one and a half times the cost of a single ticket. This can also be used to enter the annual tropical illuminations display which runs from October to May and is one of the most popular events over the winter holidays for both tourists and local families.

This place definitely lives up to its Japanese name – Shokubutsu Rakuen which means Botanical Paradise.

https://goo.gl/maps/9K8aW6nvvhzyKXkBA

2146 Chibana, Okinawa, 904-2143

098-939-2555

http://www.southeast-botanical.jp/

Open 7 days – Mon-Fri 0930-1800, Sat-Sun 0700-1800

Admission – Adults 1540 Yen; 13-17 years 1050 Yen; 4-12 years 600 Yen

Payment options – Cash (Yen), Credit/Debit card, OKI Pay, Apple Pay, PayPay, au Pay

Free parking available