Anyone who comes here with kids quickly realizes that Okinawa is pretty much one big playground. Parks, parks, everywhere! And they are HUGE! I'm talking ropeways, slides with vertical drops, trampolines, jungle gyms to climb up and through, ziplines, rock climbing, and the list goes on and on. And all completely free and open to the public!
While there are so very many to choose from, here are five of the biggest and best ones, from south to north, to visit with your little ones. And it's an especially welcome break during long road trips, when kids get grumpy and need to stretch their legs. So head to Daiso, grab a slider (the brightly colored plastic seat that helps you go faster on the roller slide) and go have some family fun!
1. Onoyama Koen, Naha
The 'central park' of Naha, easily accessible by monorail, and with ample parking. Lots of room to play, but the most popular feature is the super long slide at the very entrance, and the rope climbing structure at the top section which leads to – you guessed it – more slides.
2. Urasoe Dai Koen (Big Park), Urasoe
Popular with residents and tourists alike, people line up here at the top of the hill to use the super long roller slide. Get your selfie stick ready to record the screams as you go zooming down. There's also a crazy looking roped climbing structure to get trapped in, a sand pit, and various play areas for different age groups.
Ivani Chang on Flickr
3. Araha Beach Park, Chatan
A beautiful, scenic beach, AND a super cool park on the waterfront? Almost too good to be true. Dip in the blue sea, and then go scrub the decks on this well known 'pirate park' which has a big wooden ship to climb up and play on. Popular with Americans, due to its proximity to a number of military bases. Bonus – it has a zip line! Be ready to get sand in your shoes.
Daniel Ramirez on Flickr
4. Nakagusuku Park, Nakagusuku
Often referred to as 'the trampoline park', this massive playground has multiple play areas, but the main attraction is the huge trampoline-like bouncing structure, and rope climbing areas. Locals like to set up tents and chairs in the shade, and make a day of it. A good combination if visiting Nakagusuku Castle, which you can see from the park.
5. Kin Okawa Springs, Kin
In the summer time when the Okinawa heat is unbearable, this park, which has lots of slides and play structures, becomes a splash pad where kids can jump in the fountains to cool down after working up a sweat. Walk with towels and change of clothes for this one.