Water fun for all on Okinawa
Laughs of joy could be heard everywhere.
“Ha ha ha!”
“Oh my god! I am just gonna crawl!”
Exhilarating voices filled the air. Whether they succeeded in staying on floats or ended up falling into the ocean, I could see smiles on everyone’s faces.
The location was the ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort, and the attraction was Ocean Park - an obstacle course on Okinawa’s beautiful waters.
The course is a water attraction where people enjoy a series of different obstacles at sea. Think of the TV shows American Ninja Warrior or Wipeout.
Among all the water activities that the resort has to offer, this is arguably the most popular, especially among Americans, according to Kasumi Kinjo of the hotel.
“We have many people coming to enjoy the attraction even in the morning,” said Kinjo.
On the beach, I saw exactly what Kinjo described. Even though it was a weekday morning, many Americans kids, as well as Japanese and other tourists, were there, challenging the giant float.
This attraction has three areas to choose from: “Kids” for three years old and above, “Challenge” for six and above, and “Ninja” for 13 and above (4-foot-2 and taller).
Among these three, the Challenge area was the biggest and most crowded. It features slopes, slides, tight bridges with pillars blocking the way, and trampolines. Designed for younger kids, this area seemed easy to me. But the moment I stepped on the giant float, I realized that I was wrong.
Even standing or taking a step forward or didn’t come easy. The best I could do was to advance on my hands and knees, occasionally trying to stand up and falling. Kids were going much faster and more aggressively. Some of them even tried running on a narrow stretch before falling into the water. But they quickly came back on float with smile.
“(This) keeps you active, and energized, and brings family together,” said Julie, who was energetically trying one obstacle another with her friends.
Some were taking it easy like Nyla, a teen from Kadena Air Base.
“It’s different from the United States. It’s fun. It’s cool,” said the girl as she sat on a trampoline in the deep part of the section. She said she’d never seen anything like it on water back home, and admitted the course was pretty tough.
The obstacles were a big challenge to adults too.
“I found it more difficult than I thought it would be. I love it,” said Steve, a gentleman from Ohio who was on vacation visiting his sister.
After spending more than an hour crawling, falling and sliding on the course, my energy was drained and I was slightly sore. But after screaming and laughing along with the kids on the float, I’d have to say it was worth it.
ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort
2260 Seragaki, Onna, Okinawa, 904-0493
TEL: 098-966-2212 (Reservation required)
Ocean Park: 1,500 yen for adult, 1,250 yen for child
Special Military Discount available through October. Tax included
NOTES: Show military ID for discount
Participants need to be three years or older
Under 12 must be accompanied by guardian