Playing Tarzan: Zip Lining in the Jungles of Okinawa
Hands down, the best thing we did in Okinawa (and maybe on our trip thus far) was a zip lining and ropes course in the jungle. If you are afraid of heights, this course is probably not for you, because some of the zip lines are as much as 30 meters (98 feet) above the ground. But the feeling you get when you are sailing above the treetops with a full view of the ocean is breathtaking, and is definitely worth your while.
The course is run by Forest Adventure Park in Onna, and includes 33 different activities of the zip lining and ropes-course variety. When my cousin Cassie first suggested we try this, my immediate response was “I’m equal parts terrified and thrilled by the idea, so let’s do it!” I’m so glad we did.
The course started with a short safety demonstration, and the guide showed us how to use the zip lines. After a brief run on a practice line that was no more than 10 feet off the ground, the guide sent us on our way. That’s right, this was an unguided tour. They just set you free! At first that terrified me, but after the first zip line (which happened to be one of the longer and higher runs), we all felt much more confident. It was a blast. Matt was really good at it, but both Cassie and I had some trouble with the landings…for whatever reason, we could not land on our feet! We both came in on our butts every time, just plopping straight into the bark butt first, instead of running in like you are supposed to. We both also kept getting flipped around and coming in backwards, which makes landing extra hard.
The most terrifying moment of the day (and ultimately the most satisfying to complete) was the Tarzan swing. Instead of clipping yourself straight onto the zip line, you clip yourself onto a “Tarzan swing” which is hooked to the zip line. Then you jump off the platform and free fall until the swing catches on the zip line and you are propelled into a giant rope web! You then have to climb the rope web to get to the next platform. I am not afraid of heights at all…but I hate that falling feeling, so roller coasters, etc. (anything with big drops) have never been my favorite thing. It took all of my willpower to jump off the platform–I thought I was going to puke! Fortunately Matt had gone first and was on the other side to coax me along. He lied through his teeth and told me it wasn’t that bad, so finally I jumped. I am so happy I did it, but I don’t think I will ever be doing that particular activity again! I felt much better to see that Cassie and the next two people behind her (including a guy covered in tattoos) have similar reactions once they saw what they had to do. I think every single person screamed some sort of swear word as they went flying towards that net! As she was standing on the platform Cassie yelled across to me “How did you do this?!” I said “I don’t remember. I think I blacked out.” Truth.
However, after that part, the rest of the course felt like a breeze! And I managed to actually sort of land on the very last zip line. Afterwords we felt exhausted, exhilarated and so proud of ourselves! I definitely recommend trying it out if you are in Okinawa. For more information about the park and the course, check out this blog.