Ocean Park offers splashing good time on Okinawa

Photos by Shoji Kudaka
Photos by Shoji Kudaka

Ocean Park offers splashing good time on Okinawa

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes 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 two types of zones, “Kids” and “Challenge.” Challenge zone features slopes, slides, tight bridges with pillars blocking the way, and trampolines. Kids zone, on the other hand, 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.

Ocean Park

Where: ANA International Manza Beach Resort
GPS COORDINATES: N 26.506001, E 127.859183
TEL: 098-966-2212 (reservation required)
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (subject to change due to low tide or maintenance)
Cost: 3,500 yen for 1 day

*Military Discount (to be available starting July 1): 3,000 yen for adult, 2,500 for minor (Military ID and a copy of this Stars and Stripes Okinawa with this article on Ocean Park need to be presented at the entrance)

*Through June 30 (possibly through July 22), beach visitors can have free access to parking, and Ocean Park users can rent a parasol set for free, which normally costs 2,000 yen per car and 3,000 yen per day respectively (These benefits cannot be combined with the Military discount). Accommodation guests can have free access to Manza Ocean Park until June 30. From July 1 through Sept 30, guests who stay for 2 consecutive nights or more, can enjoy one day free access to the attraction.

NOTE: Visitors need to be over 3 years old. Kids under 12 years old are required to be accompanied by guardian 18 years old and over (one guardian can take up to three kids). From July through September, 300 fireworks are scheduled to be launched on site every Wednesday and Saturday (Saturday only for September), starting 8:30 p.m.

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