Every since they saw Finding Nemo both my husband and my oldest daughter have enthralled by the ocean and marine life. This fascination shared by the two of them has turned in a family hobby. During the summer we spent most of our spare time at the beach and tide pools. If it is too rainy to go to either one of those places we make the rounds at the local fish stores to identify and watch the fish.

Now that school has started our free time has been cut back dramatically. Our weekends tend to be packed full and half our day on Saturday is taken up with bowling league. Even though we are super busy we all still yearn to see some marine life. So when I saw the brochure on the Busena Underwater Observatory I knew it would be the perfect day trip for our family. After purchasing some discount tickets from ITT we set off on our fish finding adventure.

The Observatory is only a short 45 minute drive away. My girls napped on the way there so they were refreshed and happy upon our arrival. As we pulled into the resort a helpful staff member directed us to first parking lot on the left – visitor parking. The observatory is quite a distance from this area so be prepared to walk or you can take their trolley. We were all anxious to get there so we decided to walk rather than wait for the trolley. It was a pleasant walk with the ocean on one side and beautiful floral shrubs on the other.


On your way to the observatory you will pass the area where the glass bottom boat rides launch from. I will admit that we did not ride on the glass bottom boat this time. My husband said from the beginning that he wasn’t going to because of his motion sickness. I thought it would be fun for my oldest and I to go together but that didn’t work out either. Apparently to a 5-year-old the concept of a glass bottom boat is very frightening. She was convinced that a shark or whale might attack the boat, and would not believe otherwise regardless of what I told her. The boats must look more sea-worthy in action, because as we were leaving she commented that next time she would give them a try!


The observatory is at the end of a long pier. The view from the pier is breathtaking and you can see so many different fish swimming down below. For 100 yen you can get pellets to feed the fish, which both of my girls thoroughly enjoyed. It was fun to catch a closer glimpse of the fish as the would rush to the surface and snack on the pellets. I was impressed by the fact that the container the pellets came in was also food for the fish.

Once you are at the end of the pier you will arrive at the observatory. This is a tall tube-like structure that descends down to the oceans floor. There is a steep spiral staircase that takes you down to the bottom floor where you can view the marine life through different portholes.

Porthole_3 Murry_porthole

The portholes are quite large and offer you many different viewing points. It was so neat to be able watch the fish swimming freely in the natural habitat. It was a wonderful learning experience as well as we were able to identify many different species of fish. My oldest was having so much fun watching the fish that we had to bribe her with yen (to feed the fish) to get her to come back up to the pier. We had a wonderful time at the Busena Underwater Observatory and if you haven’t been we would highly recommend you go.

Busena Underwater Observatory

Tickets: Both MCCS and ITT offer discount tickets to Busena Underwater Observatory.
Ticket prices through ITT for the observatory are: Adults ¥800 Students(16-18) ¥ 700 and Children (4-15) ¥400. They also offer combination tickets for both the observatory and a glass bottom boat tour.

Payment at the observatory: Yen only


Address: 1792 Kise, Nago, Okinawa Prefecture 905-0026, Japan

GPS Coordinates: 26.5428938, 127.9337432

Directions: Head north on 58 and you will drive for about 45 minutes, or take the expressway north to the end, where you’ll get on 58. The observatory is just outside of Nago. You will see the sign for the resort and then take a left at the light.

Free parking

Busena Marine


    • Hannah – thank you for your feedback. Okinawa Hai has changed its submissions methods over the past 9 years and some of our older posts are not as well-edited as newer ones, this being one of those. We do make an effort to go through older entries to bring them up to date in terms of information and consistency of the presentation, but occasionally some escape us. I’ve edited this one just now.

  1. Hubby and I are empty nesters that enjoy all types of water sports, Jetskis, snorkeling, diving, boating, etc. and I often find myself struggling with the whole keeping animals in cages guilt that comes from going to aquariums. Hubby won’t dive if the water is colder than 70°F so we don’t do much during the winter months even though many of our younger diving friends do. I enjoyed our trip to the underwater observatory today because I got to see underwater life without the hassles of getting our gear together and getting tanks. It was great as a last minute “lets do something this afternoon” kind of thing. As a diver here in Okinawa, it amazes me how curios the fish are here. They will often swim right up to you and check you out. It was the same in the observatory and I told hubby that it was almost like they were posing for pictures that I half expected them to smile and make the peace sign. We also did the glass bottom boat and although it was interesting, I found the observatory to have the better view. With so many people paying the 100¥ for food, those fish aren’t going very far away. All in all, it was a very pleasant last minute afternoon adventure.

  2. We just visited the other day and had a very nice time. It is quite a bargain at 2000 yen for a combined ticket to both the glass-bottom and to sea the observatory (and ITT can save you a bit more, especially if you are a club member). Plus for 100 yen, you can buy some food to throw to the fish which adds to the experience. The reef is beautiful and there were a ton of fish to see. Since the boats run every 20 minutes, you can go anytime and they are covered so you can even enjoy the ride in the rain. The observatory is rather small and cramped, but far more fun for kids than the boat ride which is good for both kids and adults. The best part is that through two of the portholes they have sea anemones set up nice and close with clown fish living in them doing their thing. Very cool to see. All in all, a beautiful area with nice beaches, nice hotels, lots of restaurants, and a couple fun ocean adventures. Would definitely recommend for a simple day-trip.

  3. A long drive and a bit expensive, but worth it if you’re already heading up north. (We stopped on our way to Okuma) My daughter loved looking out the little windows at the fish. I don’t recall seeing anywhere to eat on site, but if you’re not a picky eater you should be able to find plenty of drive thru restaurants and convenience stores nearby on 58.

  4. JMO- we went here, but weren’t too impressed. (2000 yen for my hubby and i without itt) we love the water and do all sorts of water sports. i guess it would be better if we didn’t go scuba diving and snorkeling. it’s like being inside of a big fish tank. i thought it would be bigger or maybe you’d be able to see more. instead of this, take your money and put it towards dive lessons!! oh- and don’t go here if you’re claustrophobic. tiny stairs, tiny observatory.

  5. Thanks for posting this Heather! This looks really interesting. My daughter and husband both love the water and everything that lives in it. So I’m pretty sure they would get a kick out of this. We will definately check this place out. Thanks again for sharing!