Rob Oechsle

Member
THE URA RIVER for FAMILIES WITH KIDS — A Great Spot on a Hot Day While Up at OKUMA, or While Day-Tripping the West Coast in Northern Okinawa.

A layout of all the things to do at Ura River

Hop out of your car, the river is right there, and it's all yours 'till you want to call it quits.

Ura River parking, seen in pinned location below

AN OPTION MOST KIDS PREFER TO HIJI FALLS

Kids loving Ura River

For many, a stay at OKUMA usually means dragging your kids up to HIJI FALLS (where you can't swim), or risking a case of Leptospirosis by walking or playing in the river (which they tell you not to do), all after paying a fee to enter, then wind up seeing more boardwalk than you do river walk.

The URA RIVER—just minutes away to the north—has what looks like a 250-meter stretch of clear-running mountain stream, built by a race of Dwarf Engineers from another planet, who used the spot as a "practice river" for building various water control dams, chutes, and break-waters... then planting Egyptian Papyrus all along the banks before they left, never to come back.

Although this URA RIVER site might look a bit "dumpy" to us adults, adventuresome kids will think otherwise. Any kid—from toddlers through Elementary School age—will, under parental supervision, actually have some fun while exploring around here at their own pace.

Ura River through a kid's eye

They'll also learn a few things from the rustic, kid-sized engineering structures, and have plenty of natural pools, boulders, and greenery to balance out the concrete.

Kid-sized fun and pools on Ura River

THE STEPS TO THE RIVER are just a few yards back down the road from where you park. The gap in the fence at the wide spot along the river is pretty obvious. You can also park right by the steps if you want to.

The stairs down to Ura River

You can trek upstream as far as the SABO DAM, whose "adult" dimensions and high-walled "catch basin pool" form a natural turn-around endpoint to your kids' play and exploration of the river.

Sorry, no bathrooms. You can head back to Family Mart (or Okuma) for that! 😊

The URA RIVER PICNIC AREA is one of FOUR different (and unadvertised) river-walk and pool options in the Okuma Area that are largely missed, all in favor of the HIJI FALLS experience.

Picnic area at Ura River

Can you picture yourself here having a picnic with family and friends? Yeah. Me, too.

However, if you've got kids in tow, and want a little more variety to counter the Salt-Water, Sand and Sunburn of Okuma Beach (and not repeat the long Hiji Falls trek), your kids will thank you for these little side trips on a hot summer day.

Kids having fun at Ura River

♦ NOTE TO PARENTS: Although the river usually looks like it does in my photos, and is generally SAFE at all times, river levels can change with every rainfall. Immediately after a day (or days) of HEAVY RAIN, the river might see temporary "flooding", or at least some level of strong torrents. These situations usually subside in a day or two. In any case, TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT THE RIVER, and decide if it's OK for your kids. This rule goes for all "Family River Trekking" on Okinawa!

2.7 miles / 4.3 km from the OKUMA Main Gate to the URA RIVER parking spot.

The STAIRS down to the river are right behind me. You pass them while driving into the parking lot over by the Picnic Pavillion (you can see two cars already parked over there).

A view of the parking area and where the stairway down is

Two boys exploring Indy Jones' "Lost River" in the remote rain forests of northern Okinawa (about 50 feet from the parking lot and picnic pavilion!

Kids trekking the Ura River

Cheers!

Upstream Ura River
 
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of Okinawa.Org.
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Rob Oechsle

Rob Oechsle

Member
Notice the carefully-lid flat stones under the water.

Flat stones placed on the Ura riverbed for easy navigation

A mini spillway that's so safe, even your little ones can have fun trying to fight their way up against the flow --- or just sit there in the bubbles at the bottom.

A kid-friendly spillway on Ura River

A little "Fish Ladder Dam" that even kids can negotiate.

Ura River fish ladder

Always keep a watchful eye on the toddlers who haven't learned how to swim yet, and still need parental supervision.

Plenty of places along this creek where little kids can have an exciting time splashing around and gaining confidence to explore, as long as Mom and Dad keep an eye on them.

A steady flow on the Ura River fish ladder

I've only seen one kid slither through that pipe (from top to bottom). If they are skinny enough to do it, and the flow is low, I don't see a problem.

If you look it over and decide to allow it, I'd have them stick to the go-in-head-first, slither from top-to-bottom route.

A water pipe on the Ura River

The "Kiddie Pool" on a low-water day, waiting for some kids to splash around in its mountain-fresh flow.

By about MAY-JUNE, the river has warmed up enough to make it tolerable for kids who are having too much fun to care how cold it is! 😊

The kiddie pool on Ura River

Happy couple taking a break from their break at Okuma... while their son is having a blast with friends down in the river.

A couple taking a break while their kids play in Ura River

Ready to head out for a longer hike up the more advanced "Sabo Dam Trail" along the URA RIVER that takes you up-stream and through the jungle beyond the Picnic Pavilion River Park that is the subject of this post.

I was a LOT dirtier when I got back.

The reason I am not smiling is that I was still recovering from being stuck behind a local, yellow-tag "Kei-Car" who was doing 28 kph on Highway 58 all the way from Nago !!! Ha! Only kidding... :)

Bypassing the Ura River for the Sabo Dam Trail
 

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