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Nago Pineapple Park offers real sweet adventure

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2010-11-04

Pineapples are one of Okinawa’s key agricultural fruit exports, along with tangerines, with plantations dotting the landscape in the northern region.

Pineapples are plentiful, but nowhere more so than at the Nago Pineapple Park, a combination educational experience, a shopping trip and a taste-testing zone catering to the whole family. Located just northwest of Nago City, the pineapple park follows the standard tourist attraction code: Attract, see, feel, taste, and purchase. It’s a perfect family outing, and cameras are a ‘must’. Plan for a 1½ hour visit, which with kids will cover just about everything. Free parking is plentiful, and visitors quickly find their way to the kiosk to purchase tickets for the motorized pineapple cars which whisk you through the pineapple fields to see the growing process and a variety of different pineapples.

Entry to the Nago Pineapple Park itself is inexpensive at ¥500 for adults, high school and junior high school students, and ¥250 for elementary school children, and the fee includes the motorized cart ride that winds its way through the tropical garden and the pineapple fields. It’s a pretty good price, considering the ride, the adventure, and the English language narration audio in the carts as you travel the grounds.

Pineapples are pineapples, right? Well, no. There are dozens of varieties, and the display shows the differences. Have your camera ready, because the 10-minute ride takes you within inches of pineapples at varying stages of growth. The narration explains the pineapple’s history on Okinawa and the cultivation process.

Once out of the pineapple field and into the displays and exhibits building, a unique feature of the park is a Shell Gallery, where more than 1,000 different types of sea shells are on display. Many can be touched and felt. There are display panels showing the shell’s growth from the size of a grain of sand to a beautifully shaped seashell. Once past the Gallery, the fun begins in earnest (Parents, watch the kids!) as you enter the museum-like park.

Nago Pineapple Park is well known for its sweet pineapple wines, created in a winery right on the premises. You can watch the fermenting and bottling process, and then taste the fruity wines themselves. The park’s original wine, called “Lagcima Del Sol” (literally, ‘Tears of the Sun’ in Spanish), can be sampled. It’s made from 100% Okinawa pineapples. On the wine label is the image of three suns, with each sun representing joy, love and wrath in tribute to mother nature.

The wine taps flow freely, and… did we mention, free? Not recommended for kids though. There are also vats of regular pineapple juice available for unlimited tasting by the whole family.

Taste the pineapple. There’s no limit to how much sampling you can do, or how long you can do it. There are tables filled with pineapple trays begging your indulgence.

And of course, there is the shopping area. Whole pineapples, cut pineapple, pineapple pound cake, and pineapple chocolates are but a few of the tasty treats to take home. And there is more traditional shopping too; pineapple shaped key chains and other goodies are available. The shopping center offers shipping options, so you can send a bit of Okinawa home to friends and relatives.

Getting There
Take Highway 58 and head for Nago. Drive through the city remaining on Highway 58 until you see a sign pointing left to Meio University, turn left on Route 84 at the traffic light (there’s a toy shop ahead of you). Go straight about five minutes, and you’ll see the Nago Pineapple Park on the right. The alternative is to take the Expressway to the northern end, Kyodo, then proceed north on Highway 58 through Nago, as indicated above. The park is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Cost
Nago Pineapple Park is open daily, 365 days a year, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entry is ¥500 for adults, and for high school and junior high school students, and ¥250 for elementary school kids. Pre-schoolers are free to the Park and all facilities, gardens, fields and shops. There’s parking for 100 cars, plus the tour buses at Nago Pineapple Park. Wheelchairs are available free for the handicapped.

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