Day 5, Churaumi/Ocean Expo/Renaissance Resort, Okinawa

We got up at 630am so that we were able to check out and have breakfast at 715am. My intention was to reach the entrance of Churaumi Aquarium at 830am sharp. It was not difficult since our hotel was next to it. In fact, our hotel room overlooked the aquarium.

The only grouse I had was that Motobu was real dead quiet at night. It was either a ‘has been’ town or a ‘to-be-developed’ town.

The kids opted for alfresco dining for breakfast.

The tiny pool which we did not get to use

At the entrance to the Churaumi Aquarium

In awe of the whale sharks

Given that my kids were such avid goers of the local SEA Aquarium, they were very excited by what they spotted at Churaumi. Z had read up about whale sharks before and was very psyched to see them in person.

Happy kids

The only paid attraction at Ocean Expo was the Aquarium. There were other enclosures such as manatees, sea turtles and dolphins which were opened to the public for free.

We paid 500yen for a tiny pail of food to feed dolphins

There were free dolphin shows at the Ocean Expo theatre too

There was also an Okinawa Native village which you could see how an old house looked like

We were also taught how to play their local musical instrument – sanshin.

We headed back for a diver’s show with the dolphins

Don’t these see turtles look like they were from Finding Nemo/Dory?

Top view of a manatee

Top view of the whale sharks’ tank

Whale shark under my feet

There was a marine life museum at the exit of the Aquarium too. We headed to ‘Yanbaru no eki’ for lunch. I read online that there were many sea produce and souvenirs to buy…. not. It was a ‘has been’ place in a pretty sad condition. 

We had a somewhat localised lunch and headed off to our resort.

View from our room 824 – I picked this room!

I had reserved a few months’ ago and wrote in to indicate my preference of view. The hotel wrote back and sent me a link (on their Japanese website) to select my preferred room number from 3F to 8F.

Knowing that I was going to have 2 kids staying with us, they recommended that I take room 824 because it could accommodate a bunk bed so that each child can have his own bed.

I made the booking via the Japanese website of the hotel and was able to book at a cheaper rate of 11000yen per adult, 8800yen for Z and 3780yen for X as he was under the 3-5yo category. Had I booked via the English website, it only offered me the option of 15000yen per adult.

The beauty about staying at this resort was the eligibility of Club Savvy benefits when you stayed more than 3 nights during off peak season and 4 nights during peak season.

Club Savvy was a tad like Club Med because it offered the guests access to free activities, which otherwise had to be paid for, and even free buffet lunch.

The kids received a welcome pack

Exploring the beach at 5pm

Having checked in late (which I should have checked in earlier), we missed the ‘free’ buffet lunch of the day as well as all the activities. I did not know that we could check in earlier. Then again, the weather had looked so wet that I was worried that it would be raining at the resort too.

I also managed to book all the activities that we could, understood and were available. Some activities were free because of Club Savvy. The rest were not free but we had 15 “Paradise Coupons” to be utilised for the non-free activities. I suspected the coupons were used to regulate ‘traffic’. All in all, the only activity I had to pay was the family program with the dolphin. It was 48,000yen for 1 group of 5 persons. However, even if you only had 4 persons, it was also 48,000yen.

The other dolphin programs were either just see only, see + touch only or see + touch + swim together. We were not keen on the former two and opted for the last one because see + touch would have cost 8000yen per person (regardless of age). There was a 90min program to swim with the Dolphins at 18,000yen per person but X was too young to participate. I had thought for Mr H & Z to go ahead while I babysit X. Later on, X said he was not scared of dolphins and would like to touch them too. Hence, that was how we ended up with the family program where all of us would get to play with the dolphin and the older ones can swim with the dolphin. It was a Tuesday when I went down to book but all slots were taken up so we only managed to secure a Friday 230pm slot which was after our checkout time.

In a bid to be a kids’ friendly hotel, they issued the kids a ‘passport’ to collect stamps from the staff. They had to challenge the staff to a game of ‘rock, scissors, paper’ and win the game to earn the stamps. The kids had great fun stalking the porters, waiters, front desk staff and even the valet!!

Rock, scissors, paper

Earning stamps along the way to redeem for toys and prizes

We drove out for dinner and replenished our snacks from a nearby Lawson station before bringing the kids to the indoor pool which closed at 10pm.

Indoor pool

Bunk bed

 

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