A quick Sunday getaway for me and my husband was spent at Southeast Botanical Gardens in Okinawa City. We have been hearing good stories since it reopened in July 2013 after being shut three years earlier, and our first sight right past the entrance proved all the stories right. This local paradise, originally opened in 1970, is peaceful and it is very surprising to see such a breathtaking beauty hidden at the heart of the city, just a short drive outside Kadena Air Base Gate 3. This botanical park is divided into Water Park and Botanical Garden, housing about 1,300 tropical and subtropical plant species.
It is advisable to start at the Water Park first since it has hillsides and is quite a walk, unless you want to avail of the tram for 500 yen. I enjoyed feeding the carp and koi the most and fish food is available on vending machines for 100 yen a box. It was early autumn when we visited and we missed a spectacular carpet of lotus flowers which normally blooms in summer. However, to make up, a short climb to where the totem pole is offers a picturesque view of the park, overlooking bridges and ponds.
After a long stroll at the Water Park, we found the Botanical Garden to be errr, quite disappointingly small. We were too overwhelmed with the Water Park but the garden is a haven to relax. Find time to pause and watch the palm trees sway and be reminded how beautiful Okinawa is.
DINE and SHOP
Dining and shopping at Southeast Botanical Garden is worth a mention because I am in love with the view and their wall garden.
Southeast Botanical Gardens is open from 9:00 to 22:00 (last admission 21:00) and with a general admission of only ¥ 1,500 and an easily accessible location, it is truly worth a visit. Even the Okinawan shisa below agrees.