CONTRIBUTED BY HEATHER NORDELL
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.
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.