Family Fun: Bios on the Hill (Okinawa)

Happy holidays to all of my readers! It was a wonderful, quiet holiday with my family this year, and such a joy to watch my almost two-year old start to really understand the traditions of Christmas. (Sort of. She was more taken with the dog in the DVD of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” than the story … but we’ll work on that.)

We’ve also been busy planning for an upcoming post-New Year’s trip back to Okinawa and, now that I have a mobile toddler, I can’t wait to head back to Bios on the Hill.

A display of orchids
A display of orchids

Bios on the Hill is a nature park, located near Ishikawa in central Okinawa. On an island that prides itself on ocean-related activities, there’s not even a view of the sea from the grounds. Instead, visitors to the park are treated to the sight of rainbow-hued orchids and myriad tropical plants. Well-maintained trails lead around the lush property so you can explore at your own pace (pick up the English pamhplets on site to help you identify the various flora and fauna).

So what makes this site so great for kids? A twenty-minute (slow) boat ride is a great introduction to the park’s interior, but active families can rent kayaks and explore the waterway themselves. On dry land, hop in one of the water-buffalo powered carts for a ride around the grassy park. Nearby, wooden toys are on offer for kids to use at their leisure – balls, hula hoops, stilts and rings. Or pick up a “fishing rod” and attempt to hook a clay pot. There are also several giant-sized tree swings – these are popular, so snag one quick if it’s free.

And then there are the goats – the park houses a collection of animals that are tethered out on the grassy field. Anyone is allowed to take a goat for a walk – just unhitch the leash and take a lap around the area. Not comfortable with an unchained animal? You can also buy cupfuls of carrots and feed the goats in the nearby enclosures.

Watching the water buffalo
Watching the water buffalo

As with most sites in Okinawa, Bios is best reached by car. But if you’re lucky enough to have (or have rented) your own set of wheels, this is one spot you and the kids won’t want to miss.

You can find directions and information on hours and fees here.

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