Okinawa is known for its amazing views, stunning beaches, historic shrines and temples, and warm locals. It’s a place where amazing natural scenic spots can be found. While there’s no shortage of breathtaking places that offer equally mesmerizing views whether you’re on the main island or the many other smaller islands around, one place you don’t want to miss is Cape Manzamo.
Located in Onna in Okinawa’s Kunigami District, Cape Manzamo or Cape Manza is right at the heart of the main island. A popular tourist spot for its dynamic views of the ocean, it has also earned the name Elephant Rock. This is because the rock formation resembles an elephant’s nose. Many people come here to experience the iconic rock formation in person and its unique views. If you’re planning a holiday to Okinawa, this is one spot you should add to your itinerary.
Cape Manzamo got its name from the words of King Sho Kei, an 18th-century Ryukyuan King. When he visited the area, he praised the place, specifically its spacious open field. In Ryukyuan language, he stated that tens of thousands (man-nin) of people can sit (za) together on the open field (mo). This is where the name Manzamo came from.
Spacious viewing point
One of the most notable spots of the rock formation is its spacious grass-covered plain. It is just the perfect spot for taking in the view, especially of the turquoise waters surrounding it. Beautiful is an understatement of the scenery laid out to you when you’re standing on this spot.
The grassy plain is so spacious and even has a legend surrounding it. According to stories, the king of the then-Ryukyu Kingdom believed that 10,000 people can sit on the grassy plain. That’s how spacious it is. Because of the stunning scenery surrounding the area, it’s an especially popular backdrop for photoshoots.
Great view of the sea
One of the best things about the cliff is how it offers dynamic views of the Okinawan Sea. It’s a great spot for appreciating the clear, clean waters below. You’ll see waves crashing against the limestone formation below with every splash.
Aptly called the Elephant Trunk, this rocky limestone cliff is most notable for its unique shape. When viewed from a distance, you’ll easily notice how the rock formation resembles the trunk of an elephant. As Okinawa gained more renown worldwide, international travelers keep coming to Cape Manzamo and see the rock formation.
Popular scuba diving spot
Cape Manzamo is not only known for its wonderful views and iconic formation but also for its marine activities. The area is a popular scuba diving spot. One of its most renowned spots is called the Toilet Bowl.
These diving spots are among the most gorgeous in all of Okinawa. What’s notable is the varied terrain in the area. Divers are treated with sandy bottoms that feature some of the most splendid coral formations. There are a few caverns, swim-throughs, and even vertical walls plunging into an abyss of dark blue waters. In addition, there’s the equally diverse marine life here which includes turtles, sharks, rays, and even small critters like crabs, shrimp, and nudibranchs.
Beautiful evening views
To the west, the cliff faces directly the East China Sea. As such, this has made it one of the best spots in Okinawa to enjoy some mesmerizing views of the sunset. There are a lot of people who specifically time their trips here near the evening as this is the perfect time for seeing the setting sun on the horizon.
In addition, many that have experienced sunset viewing on this spot firsthand observed how the whole place seems to transform into a whole different setting. As the daylight wanes, the ocean goes through a slow and steady color transformation. Wonderful shades of red color the sky. This is then reflected on the clear waters below, turning the blue waves into shades of red to purple until it gets enveloped in darkness.
Enjoy the observation deck
To accommodate the numerous locals and tourists that come to the park to enjoy its view, the Manzamo Tourist Facility was built in the area. Here, you can enjoy dining, and shipping as well as enjoy the wonderful natural sights around. The facility’s first floor has shops selling a variety of local specialties. Multiple restaurants are available in the food court on the second floor. Visitors have the option to enjoy their food in eat-in spots indoors or have it on the wooden deck outdoors.
Interestingly, the outdoor wooden deck is especially perfect for enjoying the sunset view. On the third floor is a free observation deck which is the perfect spot for seeing Mount Gusuku and the mountains belonging to the Motobu peninsula. Look to the east and get a good view of the symbol of Onna Village, Mount Onnadake. The center also has a spacious car parking facility, which can hold about 13 large buses or 300 cars.
Stroll along the promenade
If you want to see Cape Manzamo, just head straight to the Manzamo Tourist Facility to buy a ticket. You can buy one from the vending machine on the first floor. Tourists are charged a ¥100 viewing fee which is used for the environmental conservation of the area.
Once you have the ticket, you can walk along the Manzamo promenade. Here, you can get a good view of Cape Manzamo. This is where you can see the iconic elephant nose-like rock formation, the wonderfully blue waters of the ocean below, the wide grassy plains, and the seemingly vast expanse of the horizon. What’s great is that the promenade’s design allows even visitors who are in wheelchairs or those that have to carry their kids in strollers. There are even rental wheelchairs and strollers that visitors can use for free in the facility.
A view you can’t miss
If you’re planning a trip to Okinawa, make Cape Manzamo one of your destinations. Beautiful, iconic, and awe-inspiring, it is very much representative of what makes Okinawa the special place that it is. When you’ve had your time exploring the numerous beaches in the area and just want to soak in some sights and sun, Cape Manza is the perfect spot.