Things to Do in Okinawa
Recommended new articles
Best Beaches and Islands in Japan
- Imagine yourself on a calm stretch of sand on the remote island or a nearby beach along the coast of Tokyo, or exploring the undiscovered side of Japan. There are enough options out there to suit every type of traveler. Why not start planning your sandy, adventurous getaway now and scroll down to see our recommend beaches and islands in Japan by prefectures. Okinawa Okinawa is home to more than 160 different islands. Out of the many islands, Miyako and Ishigaki Island are far most popular holiday destinations with both local and international guests because of its easy accessibility using direct plane from Osaka and Tokyo. Not just its beguiling beaches with beautiful gradations of blue water with pristine white sands, but travellers enjoy leisurely island time with delicious Okinawan gourmet food during their stay. While the beaches are open year round, they are best enjoyed from April to November when the air temperature consistently tops 25 degrees and the water is very warm. Ishigaki Island (top) Miyako Island (bottom) Nagasaki Nagasaki prefecture has the most number of islands. The natural beauty on the island includes but is not limited to beaches and breathtaking natural scenery but also unique history featuring what were once hidden Christian communities. Out of the many, Fukue is a hub of historical charm, natural scenery and delicious local food, just off the coast of Nagasaki in Southern Japan. Of the Goto Islands, Fukue Island is the largest and most populated followed by Nakadori. Yet, in spite of being the largest, Fukue Island is still fairly small and mostly wild and hilly, while the secluded island of Ikitsuki offers some of Japan’s most rugged coastal escarpment. On the other, Nagasaki offers a post-apocalyptic island, Hashima Island, more familiary known as Gunkanjima (Battleship Island) where once served as a coal mining until 1974. Due to damage caused by a typhoon,currently it is not possible to land on Gunkanjima. The situation is expected to normalize on March 1, 2020. Until then, the island can be viewed on boat tours from the water. For more information, check its official webpage here. Kagoshima Despite being few hundred kilometers away from Kagoshima prefecture and much closer to Okinawa, there are two islands that belong to Kagoshima with some Okinawa cultural influence here and there. First island is the Yoron Island which has a population of about 6,000 people, and in this small island, residents enjoy living in the tropical paradise. The other being Amami Oshima Island where the climate is much similar to Okinawa with white beaches, beautiful coral reefs, mangroves and crystal-clear sea making it perfect for snorkeling, scuba-diving and kayaking. Okinawan guardian lion, “Shisa” on the roof of the house with its culture still imposed on Yoron Island (top right) From heart shaped tidal pool to beaches to mangroves, Amami Oshima Island is one of Japan's top island getaways. Fukuoka Located across Hakata Bay in Fukuoka prefecture, this Shikanoshima Island is a scenic island that offers great view of the coastline making it a popular destination for cyclists. As the island is at the tip of the sandbar connected to Hakata Bay, visitors can access from the land as well as from the sea. Shimane Oki is made up of 4 inhabited islands and 180 smaller uninhabited islands and rocky reefs (satellite rock clusters) located in the Sea of Japan roughly 50km north of Shimane peninsula and north-west of the main island (Honshu). The three inhabited islands, closest to mainland Japan form a circular shape in order from Nishinoshima Island, Nakanoshima Island, and Chiburijima Island. These islands are collectively known as Dozen, while the largest inhabited island is called Dogo Island. All of these islands have a mesmerizing and dynamic beautiful natural scenery which goes far beyond expectations. Hiroshima When one mentions Hiroshima, first thing comes to mind would be atomic bombing. Its shadows are haunting reminder of the brutality that occurred in 1945. However, Hiroshima is a destination in its own right making a great base for exploring the Seto Inland Sea, containing more than 350 islands with Shinto shrines, beautiful Japanese landscapes and delicious food and drinks. From Osaki-Shimojima Island where the finest oranges and lemons in Japan are made, to rabbit island on Okunoshima to scenic cycling journey to Mukaishima Island and Ikuchijima Island or to spend a more relaxing time at Sensuijima Island, there are enough destinations to choose from. Ehime The only one traversable by foot or bicycle from Honshu (main land) and Shikoku, and also a popular destination for cycling is the Shimanami Kaido. This is a 60km long toll road that connects Japan’s main island (Honshu) and Shikoku passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. There are many places to pull over the bicycle on this road trip for an amazing adventure. Kagawa Setouchi Islands, proximity to Kagawa prefecture are made up of people, cats, olives and contemporary art. Devoting to art, major Setouchi art islands, Naoshima, Teshima and Shodoshima are most easily accessible from Takamatsu port in Kagawa prefecture. These islands are particularly known for their thriving local art with art festivals showcasing their works from both Japanese and international artists. These events are a must-see for art fans. “Red Pumpkin” ©Yayoi Kusama,2006 Naoshima Miyanoura Port Square ／Photo ： Daisuke Aochi Okayama Best experienced in the summertime when the weather is stable with all the shops open, this seaside resort town, Ushimado in Okayama prefecture has a perfect spot for couples. The Kuroshima Venus Road, a sandbar that appears daily at low tide is popular to not just couples but also to nature lovers. It connects three small islands off of the coast of the Ushimado district in Setouchi City and time spent on the islands and sandbars can definitely make you relax and have a fulfilling natural experience. Hyogo Best accessed by car for road trip, Awaji Island is the largest island in the Seto Inland Sea after Shikoku located in Hyogo Prefecture.The island is tucked between Kobe and Naruto (Shikoku Island), connected with two suspension bridges, the Naruto Ohashi and the Akashi Kaikyo Ohashi bridges. History tells that this was the first island to be formed for Japan offering beautiful nature, historic culture, good food, and hotsprings. ©NAVITIME JAPAN. Travel Info Check out our travel tips to make your trip better!
33 of the Best Things to Do in Okinawa
- Okinawa is Japan’s top island resort destination. The water’s warm enough to swim from the end of March to the middle of October, so beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts alike flock to the prefecture for its enviable climate. But Okinawa offers much more than pristine beaches. Whether its expansive castles, buzzing nightlife, or mouthwatering delicacies, Okinawa is a treasure trove of delightful experiences. In this article we’ll go over 31 of the best things to do in Okinawa, to ensure you get the most out of your trip. 1 Visit Shurijo Castle World Heritage Site Shurijo Castle Shurijo Castle was originally built in the 14th century as the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom. A distinguishable trait is the gusuku stone walls surrounding the castle, which are made especially captivating by the nightly illuminations. Ryukyu Buyo, a traditional dance style unique to Okinawa, can also be seen at the castle on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, when they offer 3 performances a day. Shuri Castle Festival is a yearly event that takes place in late October/early November, offering royal processions and candlelight paths. Nakijin Castle The Nakijin Cherry Blossom Festival is another annual event in late January/early February that features bright sakura against the gusuku walls of Nakijin Castle Remains, as well as nighttime illuminations Nakijin Castle 2 Explore Kokusai Dori Kokusai Dori Known as the main street of Naha City, Kokusai Dori, which literally translates to International Street, has it all. Stop in one of its steak houses or browse through a glassware shop before heading into one of the multitudes of clothing and souvenir stores. The bustling strip stays open until around 11 p.m., so you can grab dinner and wait until the heat dies down to do some more shopping or find another bar to try. Kokusai Dori Kokusai Dori 3 Stop by a Local Supermarket Don Quijote San-A Naha Main Place is the supermarket that the locals use. They have an expansive selection of everything from clothing to sushi, all at reasonable prices. So you can save that extra yen for another purple sweet potato tart. Don Quijote on Kokusai Dori also carries everyday items as well as an impressive collection of souvenirs, in addition to their more eccentric items. But both locations are great for getting the crumbly chinsuko cookies and purple sweet potato tarts that are Okinawa souvenir staples. Don Quijote Don Quijote 4 Check Out Naha’s Kitchen: First Makishi Public Market First Makishi Public Market The Makishi Public Market is a retro-style covered shopping area that’s home to an array of stands selling fresh shellfish, local delicacies and colorful produce. First Makishi Public Market One thing you don’t want to miss while you’re browsing is the pork tamago, which is actually Spam and egg fried together. It’s a specialty of Okinawa, and Pork Tamago Onigiri Honten is known far and wide for their pork tamago rice balls. The cozy shop offers all kinds of styles, so you can grab one and continue exploring the alley of Makishi. Pork Tamago Onigiri Honten 5 Okinawa Food Okinawa soba Okinawa soba comes in a lot of styles, but the base noodles are made of wheat instead of buckwheat, and they sit in a savory soup, usually topped with pork. Then there’s rafute, which is a pork rib that’s stewed in brown sugar and soy sauce, for a slightly-sweet and filling dish. Next up ischampurū, which is stir fry that usually has spam, eggs and bitter melon. Sata andagi are deep fried dough that are like doughnut holes, but they’re crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. Jimami-dofu is tofu made from peanuts instead of soybeans, giving it a mild sweetness and bouncy texture. Umibudo, or sea grapes, are actually a type of seaweed with little globes that look like grapes, and they normally come with vinegar or soy sauce to dip. rafute champurū 6 Churaumi Aquarium Churaumi Aquarium The crown jewel of the Churaumi Aquarium is the Kuroshio Sea Tank. One of the largest such tanks in the world, it stretches 35 meters long and 10 meters deep, housing whale sharks and manta rays that glide by for a truly surreal experience. After the aquarium, don’t forget to check out the Ocean Expo Park, as it has not only dolphin shows, but also a planetarium and a few cafes and restaurants for a nice recharge. Churaumi Aquarium Churaumi Aquarium 7 Gyokusendo Cave Gyokusendo Cave Located inside Okinawa World theme park, Gyokusendo Cave is the second-largest cave in all of Japan at over 5,000 meters long. It has over 1 million stalactites, the most of any cave in the country, as well as dozens of unique rock formations and natural pools that are situated around an easy walkway, making for excellent pictures. If you’re visiting Okinawa, then this natural wonder should definitely be on your list. Gyokusendo Cave 8 Visit Kouri Island Kouri Bridge Kouri Island is a scenic little getaway that only takes about 20 minutes to circumnavigate in a car. Aside from the emerald ocean and pristine beaches, this island is famous for another reason: Heart Rock. This adorable rock formation is, as you may have guessed, shaped like a heart, and it’s begging to be added to your Instagram and social media accounts. But just getting to Kouri Island is half the fun. It’s connected to Yagaji Island by Kouri Bridge, which stretches 1,960 meters and gives a breathtaking driving experience as you ride along the water’s edge. And it’s all completely free. Kouri Bridge Heart Rock 9 Get in Touch with Nature at Yambaru National Park Yambaru National Park This expansive park covers over 13,000 hectares and is full of hiking and local wildlife. One experience you can’t miss is kayaking through Gesashi Bay Mangrove Forest, though. Once you trek through to the biggest mangrove tree in Japan, you should take advantage of the guided river kayak tours to get another view of the park. Yambaru National Park For another adventure, there’s a guided night trek through the Uwaga Jungle. Discover the vibrant flora and fauna of Okinawa armed with only a flashlight. Uwaga Jungle 10 Head to the Beaches on Okinawa Main Island Beach This is what you came for. The Main Island of Okinawa has several beaches that are all easy to access and have their own distinct atmosphere. Mibaru Beach is a low-key spot for snorkeling and coral reef tour in a glass-bottomed boat. Sunset Beach is next to American Village and has a little more action, as well as paddle boards for rent. Sesoko Beach is a laid-back atmosphere to watch the sun set into the ocean. Emerald Beach is white sand and clear water for your tropical getaway. And that’s just to name a few. ©NAVITIME JAPAN. Travel Info Check out our travel tips to make your trip better!
Let go of your image of a busy, ordered Japan and replace it with crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and relaxing folk music: You've arrived in Okinawa. A world away from the high intensity of Tokyo, Okinawans appear to live a laid-back beach life on this paradisiacal tropical island that lies in the middle of the East China Sea almost 1,000 kilometers south of mainland Japan's most southern tip. Home to a spattering of islands, prepare yourself to discover underwater caves, star-shaped sand, and an island culture sometimes unrecognizable from mainland Japan.
Best of Okinawa
Search by Region
- Hokkaido / Tohoku
- Koshinetsu / Hokuriku
- Kyushu / Okinawa