One of the reasons I picked the Hip Hop bus tour route A was because it went to the Nago Pineapple Park. It came up a lot when I was looking up things to do in Okinawa and tours. Usually two people having a delightful time holding some pineapples on a cart with a pineapple on top.
I knew that pineapples grew from the ground but I’ve never had a chance to see that in person and I really wanted to see pineapples growing in real life. With the tour we had 50 minutes, some of which got eaten up by doing the cart. Part of our tour included the Pineapple Cart, however we were warned that we needed to go straight to that or else it’d take too long and we wouldn’t have time for anything else.
The reason behind this I think is because the pineapple carts are a tourist attraction, and like many tourist attractions it means there’s a group photo before you can continue on to the actual cart. This slows things up if you’re there with a time limit. I skipped this photo entirely. It’s not the only photo opportunity. There is at least two or three more photo opportunities while you’re on the cart itself.
The cart is not something you can drive. It moves automatically along a set course at a fairly slow speed while a radio guide tells you about pineapples and the things growing at the park. It’s fairly loud. Really really loud in comparison to the guide we had on the bus. (After some reading it might be dependent on which cart you get, as I’ve read complaints of it being to quiet though that was from nearly four years ago) It comes in a couple of languages Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese. The person before you get on the cart tends to ask.
If you want any of the photos they take on the ride or before they’re around 1,000 yen, you pick them up at the end.
I really enjoyed the ride, it was cool to see the gardens and learn more about the park and what it housed and then go through the pineapple fields. Apparently there are a lot of different kinds of pineapples. I was surprised. It also dropped us off right next to a cafe that sold the one thing I really wanted to get, a pineapple ice cream. (310 yen).
I don’t think the park is a full day visit. Though I’m sure you could stretch it out and make it into one. It seems the main thing to do is walk around and enjoy the plants. They do have a train called the Mega Animal Garden X Pineapple SL that runs if the weather is good but it does cost an additional 200 yen.
According to the map this train goes around the front of the park in an oval around some mechanized large animal and bug statues. If you’re with someone who really loves trains or wants to give it a try go for it. If you want to save your money I’m sure you could walk around it, just be mindful of the train and tracks. It was raining while we visited so I don’t think it was running. There also is a Dinosaur Adventure Tour which seems to cost about 850 yen.
They also use to have a room full of shells and a robot show. I’m unsure if they still do the robot show and it seems the room full of shells and fossils either got incorporated into the Dinosaur Adventure tour are in a part of the park that was under construction when I went.
If you’re there for a long time and are very excited about food there’s several different kinds. The specials sold at the cafe seems to be the ice cream I got, and a couple of cream puffs with either pineapple filling or local purple sweet potato. There’s also a restaurant called Restaurant Palm Tree that serves a 37 cm parfait that looks intense. (~14.6 inches) It’s made with lots of fresh pineapple, ice cream, cookies and jelly. It is however a bit expensive at 1,980 yen (nearly $20), but if you really love pineapple or are with a group I’m sure it would be fun to try. I didn’t think I had the time or space in my stomach to even attempt it. The other food, mostly Okinawan specials range from 880 yen to 2,280 yen.
The other draw to the park is the winery. If you’re not driving then you can sample and do a tasting of various types of wine and alcohol. It was kind of fun. I essentially walked through the shops leading out of the park snacking and trying different things they had for sale. The point is that you’ll hopefully buy some but nothing screamed buy me. Especially because a later part of our tour included stopping at a store specifically for tourist shopping.
I tried a couple wines, a dry, and a sweet for the pineapple, and then a shiiquasa wine. It was fun. There weren’t as many options as I had expected for a winery, and it seemed like a rather small space that quickly fell into a section for all ages. But they had at least 5 of pineapple and other local fruits to try before regular juices were available. They also had little samples of fresh pineapple, cookies, tarts, and all sorts of treats. They also had all of these for sale including actual pineapples. I figured there was no way customs would be happy if I traveled with a pineapple no matter what so I skipped it. Even though they had some really cute baby pineapples for you to grow. (Not sure how that is suppose to work really if you don’t live in Okinawa.)
Pineapples apparently came to Ishigakijima island (also known today as Ishigaki) which is one of the much southern islands off the coast of Okinawa. It’s actually closer to Taiwan then Okinawa itself. In 1866 a Dutch ship got stranded on the island in Kawahira Bay full of pineapple seedlings that then spread across the island. They continued to spread until the current popular strain called “Smooth Cayenne” was introduced in 1927.
Okinawa has two other popular strains of pineapple called “Bogor pineapple” and a newer pineapple called the “Peach pineapple”. There are over 2,000 types of pineapple in the world and it’s kind of fun to try the ones Okinawa has cultivated over the last century and a half.
On Ishigakijima island (Ishigaki) pineapple season is from May to August, for the rest of the island June is pineapple season. Despite this, while I was there in January some pineapples were still growing.
I think the Nago Pineapple park is a good space for families or pineapple lovers. While I could’ve used a little bit more time to see what the Dinosaur attraction was about or eat more pineapple themed foods. It is possible to spend more time, especially if you want to actually eat and take everything in.
If you drive to Nago Pineapple park there is a train from the car parking to the entrance of the park. You cannot sample the wine if you’re driving. The pineapple park is open from 9am until 6pm daily. The last ride for the pineapple cart is at 5:30pm. The ride is about 10 or so minutes once you’re in the cart.