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Valley of Gangala & Cave Cafe, Okinawa

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Outdoor | Avg price: ¥0 | English Available: None (Unknown)

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  • Tomuu

    on Sep 2

    Cave complex with cave cafe and phallic stalactites, southern Okinawa

    Valley of Gangala hadn’t featured in any pre-Okinawa travel planning. It came about after grabbing at some tourist brochures at a hotel reception. A closer inspection of the brochure for Valley of Gangala revealed a cave with a stalactite that resembled a frighteningly huge penis. Prurient I know, but it was on this bases that we etched this Okinawa spot into the travel itinerary. It’s not a big ask getting to Valley of Gangala being only a 30-min drive southeast of Naha, in an area of flatlands, farmlands and sporadic townships. This is not the most inspiring scenery you’ll take in while travelling in Okinawa. The “valley” is well signposted although a good “navi” makes getting around Okinawa so much easier. The fact that it’s located next to Okinawa World makes access even clearer. Parking at Valley of Gangala is abundant and free. There are toilets in the carpark with signs that are at pains to tell you there are no more toilets beyond a certain point. So now here comes the disappointing bit - the cave network and “lush valley” are to be taken in by guided tour only. Tours cost 2,200 yen per person and last around 80 mins. During the tour visitors will be taken to caves where early Okinawan people would go to pray for safe childbirth, fortune and health. You’ll get to see the site of an archeological excavation (currently in progress, at the time of writing) attempting to uncover evidence of “Minatogawa Man” who may have lived in these parts of Okinawa some 20,000 years ago. The tour also includes a walk through the lush forest of the valley which was formed out of a collapsed limestone cave. None of which we got to see as the tours depart at set times, you need to book (although you can just turn up and get yourselves on the next tour), and we didn’t have time. The good news though is that the Cave Cafe at Valley of Gangala has one or two phallic stalactites and is free to enter. You don’t need to buy anything to have a poke around and take some photos. The cave in which the cafe sits is a pretty gaping one with a bit of sunlight courtesy of the cave entrance and some dim bulbs providing the rest of the visibility. Large, circular tables and chairs are spread throughout. The cafe is a simple affair with coffee, juice and ice cream served from the side of a trailer. Clear away your own table. Coffee comes from 35 COFFEE at 350 yen. Soft drinks are of the fruity sort - 370 yen. Ice cream comes from 35 ICE CREAM - Beni Imo, Shikuwasa Sherbet, Muscovado Sugar & Vanilla, Salt Vanilla & Chinsuko (at the time of visiting), 330 yen for a single. Beer and liquor is available. And that’s it. The literature for Valley of Gangala and the Cave Cafe detail the latter thus, “A slightly mysterious cafe inside a cave,” which is “slightly” hilarious. Mysterious or not, a cafe inside of a cafe is always something to be enjoyed and this Okinawa traveller got a kick out of it. Staff at the cafe were super friendly (they spoke English, too) and my ice cream was tasty. There’s a fair bit of human traffic going into and out of the cave so it’s not really the kind of cafe where you can settle in with a good book or for a good chat. Novelty value alone makes it worth popping in if you’re anywhere south of Naha. As for the Valley of Gangala tours, I can’t tell you, but if the cafe is anything to go by, they could be pretty promising. Hours: Tour departures: 10:00 / 12:00 / 14:00 / 16:00 (reservations can be made at the cafe or online / by telephone) Cafe: 10:00 - 18:00 (LO 17:30)

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