Yanbaru-Kuina Observation Deck / Lookout
Outdoor | Avg price: ¥0 | English Available: None (Unknown)
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Amazing lookout point and a massive bird
Oddly enough, we weren’t looking for this “lookout”. We had thought that Yanbaru-Kuina Observation Deck was going to be Cape Hebo, the northernmost point of Okinawa Island. Maybe Yanbaru-Kuina falls under Hebo’s jurisdiction, I don’t know, but it feels quite separate and is deserving of its own review. It’s in the village of Kunigami. I suppose the main feature of the Yanbaru-Kuina Observation Deck is the massive model of a bird that looms over the tree line - a Yanbarukuina, the Okinawa rail. The Yanbarukuina is endemic to these parts and apparently isn’t such a good flier. This would perhaps explain the numerous signs along the sides of the roads around here urging drivers not to run over them. We saw more signs than the actual bird, as in, we didn’t see any yanbarukuina (except this fake one at the observation deck). The model of the bird is massive to the point of absurdity. And it’s a shame really, as otherwise this lookout spot has all the makings of a secret place, somewhere that the Okinawa traveler can claim to have discovered. It’s hard to find. Most travelers are probably not looking for it, and once you get here there’d likely to be no one else around. Except for this stupid oversized model of a bird. To add insult to the traveler, you can actually climb inside it and poke your head through a lookout point around the bird’s breast. At the foot of the bird are some benches and when you poke through the foliage there’s a bit of sturdy wooden decking from which to take in the view. And it is a splendid one. One of the best views in Okinawa perhaps. It’s all empty beach and dramatic headlands. You can even see over to Cape Hebo and just about make people crawling over the rocks there. I’d have difficulty explaining how to get to Yanbaru-Kuina Observation Deck / Lookout, I’m not sure how we ended up there ourselves. Still, it is marked on Google maps (although good luck finding an address for it). We accessed from a tight and quiet road, lined with tombs, that leads to the beach (Hedo Beach?) that you look down upon from the lookout itself. The road leads to a dusty/sandy car park marked with a map of the area and nothing else. A vertiginous and narrow lane leads up to another, very small, parking area at near to the “bird”. Watch out for other cars as you make the drive as there’s room for only one. From the smaller car park a set of steps lead up to the bird. It looks like the decking on the beach side has steps that might go down to the beach itself, and there could be some interesting hiking / exploration opportunities in the area. At the very least, by the looks of things, you’ll have the beach below to yourself. And it’s a fine stretch of beach. There’s nothing in the way of shops and services in the immediate vicinity. For anything close to that you’ll have to go to Cape Hebo which is about a 10-min drive further north. Yanbaru-Kuina (Or should it be Yanbarukuina?) is a gem if you can find it. I suppose the random access is what adds to the charm. Certainly the Okinawa views are magnificent, and if you find yourself sharing this lookout point with others, you should consider yourself unlucky.