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Underwater observatory offers new perspective

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2010-10-14

There’s the glass bottom boat, and there’s the underwater observatory, and both are simply fantastic ways to take in the ocean’s beauty in northern Okinawa.

Busena Marine Park, a part of the Busena Resort Area, is home to the Underwater Observatory standing quietly in the azure Sea off Busena’s shoreline, while a pair of whale-shape glass bottom boats offer even more breathtaking views of underwater life. Both are not-to-be-overlooked sightseeing adventures, and they’re not all that far from the military bases or Naha City.

The Underwater Observatory is an all-weather marine resort featuring a panoramic underwater view of 360 degrees. The Underwater Observatory is accessed by free shuttle bus at the Okinawa Busena Resort, located only five minutes off the Okinawa Expressway’s Kyoda Interchange. The shuttle bus terminal is at the Beach House just east of the Busena Terrace, running three times per hour at 0:00, 0:20 and 0:40. The observatory’s daily schedule through October is 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with final entrance at 5:30 p.m. The observatory stretches from the resort’s shoreline near Bankoku Shinryokan, where the 2000 Summit was held.

Adding to the excitement of the Underwater Observatory are two whale-shape glass bottom boats that afford really close up views of Porcupine fish, the Clown Anemonefish, Lionfish, Chinese Emperor, Girella Mezina, Orangespot Filefish, Triggerfish, Blue Damselfish, Teardrop Butterfly fish, Indo-Pacific Sergeant, Emperor Angelfish, Orange Sea Perch, Blackfin Hogfish, Steephead Parrotfish, Bluelined Spinefoot, Long Spined Sea Urchin, Blue Starfish, and Sea Cucumber. There’s plenty of table coral and branch coral to see, too. Superwhale I and Superwhale II operate through this month on a summer schedule, with first departures at 9:10 a.m. and final service at 5:30 p.m. There are three hourly departures at 10, 30 and 50 minutes past the hour, except for noon trips at 12:10 and 12:50 p.m.

It’s a paradise, and not to be missed. Whatever you do, don’t forget the camera with a fully charged battery. The winter schedule for both the Underwater Observatory and the glass bottom boats is slightly shorter. Winter observatory hours, seven days a week, start at 9 a.m. and run through 5:30 p.m. from November through March, with the final entrance at 5 p.m. The glass bottom boat operations also are curtailed by a half-hour during the winter months.

Entry fees to the observatory are ¥1,000 for adults, ¥800 for high school and college students, and ¥500 for children. The Glass Bottom Boat Tour is ¥1,500 for adults, ¥1,200 for high school and college students, and ¥750 for children. A combination ticket is ¥2,000 for adults, ¥1,600 for high school and college students, and ¥1,000 for children.

Busena Resort is located 58 kilometers from Naha City’s bus terminal. The Okinawa Prefecture Bus Association operates Bus 120 from Naha Airport to Busena, and Bus 20 from the Naha Bus Terminal. It takes about 1½ hours to drive from Naha City to Busena on Highway 58, or about 75 minutes on the Okinawa Expressway.

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