And I think to myself, what a wonderful… Okinawa! When it comes to Valentine’s Day, what better way to serenade your loved one than to spend a beautiful day surrounded in nature and enjoy a romantic picnic away from all the hustle and bustle? Let’s face it, the time of dinner and a movie just won’t cut it anymore. Crowds here and there just create too much of a scene to keep it romantic. Lucky for you, I have compiled my top 5 parks, to create some sparks, which will really hit her romantic marks! Let’s get started!
Ocean Expo Park
By far this park is my own personal favorite. It is pretty hard to fail at wooing your loved one due to the sheer abundant selection of things you can do here. She like flowers you say? Well, there is the dream center with the biggest array of flower selections I have ever seen. Not to mention the gigantic staircase castle in the middle of the gardens. You can also find other sources of entertainment such as the aquarium (well renowned for the world records it holds), the beach (as if people swim in January, right?), and the old traditional Okinawan village. Perfect way to spend a few romantic hours or even the entire day. You can find out more about the Ocean Expo Park at http://oki-park.jp/kaiyohaku/en.
Okinawa Comprehensive Athletic Park
An athletic park for Valentine’s Day? Have I gone mad? Do I even know what romance actually means?! Okay, bear with me for a second here as I explain. The Okinawa Comprehensive Athletic Park is actually packed with a lot of flora, activities, and sights that most people don’t know. For example, they have romantic trails that lead to a lily garden, observation deck, camping grounds next to the ocean, ponds filled with fish where you can ride on a boat to circle the mini island on the middle, and many more! Let’s not forget that it’s an athletic park so obviously they have facilities for jogging, cycling, basketball, football (soccer), baseball, tennis, badminton, indoor and outdoor recreational swimming pools, and whatever else you might feel like doing in a park. They also have a restaurant at the top area of the hill in case you are not in the mood to prepare a picnic. For more information, check out http://okinawa-kenso.com.
Bios on the Hill
Ever wondered what Okinawa might look like if it were in the middle of the amazon? I would think it would look a little bit like Bios on the hill. Contrary to its name, the major attraction to this park is the lake which is located around the middle. Why did they not call it Bios on the lake? Although it has some nice hill top sights to see, I enjoyed the lake ride the most. You can ride the traditional tour boat where it comes with a guide explaining the route as you pass by. However, if you are feeling a bit more dare I say, dangerous, why not take the more romantic option and set your own course using the couple’s canoe? Whichever you decide it’s bound to be a groovy experience. Check it out at https://www.bios-hill.co.jp/en/
Okay, this one requires a bit more effort but I believe the reward is well worth it. Ie Jima is not a park at all but actually an entire separate island of its own off the coast of northern Okinawa. However, it almost seem like the entire island is a park because of all the cool stuff to do. Full with hiking trails, oceans all around, and the legendary mountain that you can see on the center of most Churaumi Aquarium posters, no wonder this island is quite used in Japanese junior high school tours. To set this romantic day tour, just pack a lunch, get on the ferry from Motobu, and find a spot on the beach or on the mountain to set your picnic lunch. A little additional tip, timing your visit during the lily annual festival is also advisable since that too is quite a spectacle.
Okinawa Southeast Botanical Garden
An oasis right in the heart of the busy and crowded Okinawa city? Okinawa Southeast Botanical Garden is the place for you! This place is really something else. Traffic lines up right at the intersection along route 74 heading towards the park but once you enter, you instantly feel the wave of serenity. Greenery all around, flora, and the ohh so very delightful petting zoo. I don’t care how old you are, there is no way you can resist to smile while petting a guinea pig or a squirrel monkey. They are just too darn adorable. Not to mention the bigger animals such as the goat (named BILLY!), capybara, and the humongous tortoise. For this one, I recommend you try their restaurant instead of packing a lunch. The restaurant is overlooking the park which gives it that additional romantic setting. Don’t forget to charge your camera! For more information, visit their website at: http://www.southeast-botanical.jp/en/