Okinawa is a collection of islands just off the Japanese mainland. It has a tropical climate, crystal clear seas, white sandy beaches and everything else you need for the perfect island getaway.

The people that live on the island have the highest life expectancy in the world! Because who would want to die when they live in absolute paradise?!

If you’re planning on visiting Okinawa, you need to strategically plan your Okinawa trip so you can hit all the best sights and activities during your stay.  You’re in good hands though. Here’s what you should be adding to your Okinawa itinerary.

Best Time To Visit Okinawa

When looking for the best time to go to Okinawa, it’s important to note that you can’t possibly go wrong! Once you visit Okinawa, you’ll realize that it’s absolutely wonderful all year round.

However, there’s a time to suit everyone’s preferences, and it’s important to start planning your Okinawa itinerary during a time of year that works best for you!

When to Visit Okinawa
These are the best times to visit Okinawa!

It tends to be warm and humid all year round, making it the perfect beach destination. The busy season runs from July to August as the schools go on holiday and the beaches become very crowded. During this time, prices for accommodation tend to escalate too!

If you’re trying to find out when to visit Okinawa, it’s important to decide what you’d like to do there. If you want to spend most of the time on the beach, anytime between March and October is a great time to go.

Here’s what you can expect year-round in Okinawa!

 Average TemperatureChance of RainCrowdsOverall Grade
January20°C / 68°FAverageCalm🙂
February20°C / 68°FAverageCalm🙂
March22°C / 71°FHighCalm🙂
April24°C / 75°FAverageCalm😀
May26°C / 78°FHighCalm😀
June29°C / 84°FHighMedium🙂
July31°C / 87°FLowBusy🙁
August31°C / 87°FHighBusy🙁
September30°C / 86°FAverageMedium🙂
October28°C / 82°FLowCalm😀
November25°C / 77°FLowCalm😀
December21°C / 69°FLowCalm🙂

Where To Stay In Okinawa

While you’re planning your itinerary for Okinawa, you’re sure to be looking for the best place to stay in Okinawa.

Your accommodation should be highly dependant on how many days in Okinawa you’ve decided to stay. If your trip to Okinawa is only going to last a few days, then staying somewhere central is essential to making the most of your vacation in Okinawa.

Okinawa itinerary
These are the best places to stay in Okinawa! | source: ESB Professional (shutterstock)

Nago is a popular neighborhood on the main island. There are a few of Okinawa’s hostels located here. It’s a great place to stay if you’re a first time visitor, or only spending one day in Okinawa. While beaches are the main attraction in Nago, there are plenty of other interesting Okinawa points of interest that are likely to catch your eye.

Iriomote is another great place to stay while you’re in Okinawa. It’s an island that offers completely different scenery to that of the others as it’s covered in dense jungle. For adventure lovers, this is a great Okinawa attraction that will leave you excited for your return!

Your trip to Okinawa simply wouldn’t be complete without great accommodation spots to make sure you have a comfortable stay. These are our favorite places to stay, and the ones you should be adding to your Okinawa itinerary.

okinawa itinerary
Okinawa Sora House is our pick for the best hostel in Okinawa!

Best Hostel in Okinawa – Okinawa Sora House

Okinawa Sora House is perfectly located close to the monorail that can transport you to anywhere on the island. The ferry port is also just a short distance away, perfect if you plan on doing a bit of island hopping during your stay. And you’ll be just a 10-minute walk from the main street, which is a plus for those who like to be a part of the action. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re backpacking through Japan!

Delightful Bright Room in Nago
Delightful Bright Room in Nago is our pick for the best Airbnb in Okinawa!

Best Airbnb in Okinawa – Delightful Bright Room in Nago

Fancy an Osaka Airbnb? Minutes from this beach is this little apartment that is absolutely THE spot you want to stay for the first time visiting the city! Lounge around the leather couches or get cozy with a cup of matcha overlooking the little town of Nago! Don’t miss the beautiful sunsets from this place located in the heart of the city.

okinawa itinerary
My Place is our pick for the best budget hotel in Okinawa!

Best Budget Hotel in Okinawa – My Place

My Place is located in Naha and provides stunning harbor views from many of the rooms. The stunning wooden rooms give a wonderful tropical vibe and are well decorated. The hotel offers discounted tours for its residents, so be sure to ask at the front desk when you check-in.

okinawa itinerary
ANA InterContinental Manza Beach Resort is our pick for the best luxury hotel in Okinawa!

Best Luxury Hotel in Okinawa –  ANA InterContinental Manza Beach Resort

This luxury resort takes up the entirety of an island and offers nothing but luxury. Surrounded by ocean, you can spend your time at the outdoor water park or lounge on the beach while being served cocktails or a 5-course meal!

Okinawa Itinerary

In order to complete your Okinawa itinerary, you’re going to need to know how to get around the city.

On the main island of Okinawa, monorail, trains, buses, and taxis are the main forms of transport. However, on more remote islands, hiring a car, motorbike or bicycle are all great ways to get around as there are fewer or no forms of public transport.

It’s not recommended that you hire a car or motorbike on the main island, as parking fees can be a little excessive, and since there are so many options for public transport, there’s no need to hire.

Okinawa Itinerary
Welcome to our EPIC Okinawa itinerary!

Rented bicycles and motorbikes are the perfect transportation for getting around on the smaller island. It gives you the chance to do lots of sightseeing as you travel around the islands!

When traveling from island to island, there are plenty of ferries that will take you from port to port, making the islands easily navigable.

Now that you know how to get around the islands, you can start planning your Okinawa trip itinerary with ease! Be sure to add some of our favorite activities to your Okinawa itinerary to make the very most of your trip! Note that transport in Japan can be pricy – if you are backpacking Japan on a budget this may well be your greatest expense.

Day 1 Itinerary in Okinawa

Okinawa Peace Memorial Park | Okinawa World | Shuri Castle | Whale Watching | Cape Manzamo

Day 1 / Stop 1 – Stroll Through Okinawa Peace Memorial Park

  • Why it’s awesome: The Okinawa Peace Memorial represents the end of the battle that was fought on the island and is dedicated to those who died in the battle.
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Little Soba restaurant is a quaint restaurant just a short walk from the peace memorial grounds. They serve very good soba noodles and delicious ice creams at a reasonable price.

During World War II, there were many battles fought on the island, but the final battle took place in the southern part of the island near Itoman city. The battle caused huge destruction and resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

At the Peace Memorial Park, you’ll be able to learn about the events that happened in Okinawa during world war II and browse the history museum.

Stroll Through Okinawa Peace Memorial Park
Okinawa Peace Memorial Park, Okinawa | Source: Sean Pavone (Shutterstock)

The history museum displays wartime photographs and other war memorabilia and objects that will point to the events of that time. There is also a cornerstone of peace monuments, where you’ll see the names of those who died in the fateful battle.

There are over 50 monuments on the location, some of which are dedicated to everlasting world peace, and others pray for the souls of those who passed away in battle.

Many people come to this memorial area, some to learn about the morbid history of Okinawa, and others to play ball games on the open fields. Feel free to enjoy the grounds while still giving respect to those who fought for peace on the beautiful island.

Day 1 / Stop 2 – Explore Okinawa World

Around 10 minutes drive from previous stop.

  • Why it’s awesome: Okinawa World is a theme park that’s dedicated to Okinawan culture and is an exciting and entertaining experience.
  • Cost: Adults – USD $15 and Children – USD $8
  • Food nearby: Kedama (Cat Cafe), is an experience all on its own. Just a 4-minute drive from Okinawa World, you’ll find it to be very interesting. Enjoy a delicious meal while stroking a purring feline, there really is no better way to enjoy a meal!

The theme park is made to look like a traditional Okinawan village and has traditional architecture, foods, crafts, music, and many hands-on activities.

Visiting Okinawa World is an eye-opening experience. If offers you an insight into the ways and traditions of the Okinawan people, but in a fun and entertaining way!

Actors play the part of traditional Okinawan people from the Rykuyku kingdom and make it feel like a truly authentic experience.

okinawa world
Okinawa World, Okinawa | source: TayHamPhotography (shutterstock)

Visit the craft village and make your own craft to take home before exploring the local village with its iconic red roofs. You can then explore the beautiful limestone cave that has formed over an underwater coral reef. This is a beautiful place to take photos as it shows the true natural beauty of Okinawa.

Visit the souvenir shop to be sure you’re taking home something to commemorate this fantastic day and the exciting experiences you’ve had.

This is an activity that you simply must add to your Okinawa itinerary.

Day 1 / Stop 3 – Explore Shuri Castle

Around 25 minutes drive from previous stop.

  • Why it’s awesome: Shuri Castle was once a royal palace when Okinawa was its own kingdom.
  • Cost: USD $8
  • Food nearby: Just a 6-minute drive away, you’ll find Ryukyu Sabo Ashibiuna, a cozy restaurant with lovely outdoor seating. They serve traditional Japanese food and it’s beyond delicious! It’s the perfect place to stop by for a mid-morning meal!

Because Okinawa was once its own kingdom, it has a very different history to that of Japan’s mainland. Once ruled by the Ryukyu kingdom, this incredible castle was once the home of the royal family of Okinawa.

Shuri castle was destroyed during a terrible incident during World War II in 1945, but was rebuilt in the early 90s and proclaimed the castle of the Ryukyu kingdom and named a UNESCO world heritage site.

Shuri Castle
Shuri Castle, Okinawa | source: torasun (shutterstock)

This incredibly beautiful castle is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Okinawa. It is a real treat for the eyes.

The colorful Japanese style building is covered in floral patterns and ornate decorations! It has an open courtyard in its center, that visitors can explore at their own leisure. If you’d like to take a guided tour of the intriguing castle, that can also be arranged for an extra cost.

If you’d like to take a self-guided tour of the castle, multilingual audio guides are available at the entrance, so you won’t miss out on the learning opportunity.

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Nomatic 30L Travel Bag

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Read our full review!

 

Day 1 / Stop 4 – Go Whale Watching

Around 1 hour drive from previous stop.

  • Why it’s awesome: See the whales breach as they migrate across the ocean.
  • Cost: Dependant on which tour you take
  • Food nearby: C&C Breakfast Okinawa serves the most wonderful breakfasts on the island, and after a morning of whale watching, that’s exactly what you need! The restaurant serves a variety of wonderful breakfasts and even has vegan and vegetarian options.

Going on a whale watching excursion is a must during your time in Okinawa. The humpback whales migrate about 9000 kilometers every year from Alaska to Japan. These 15 meter long creatures weigh over 30 tons, and they’re magnificent to see in the water.

Between January and March every year, they are very prevalent in the Okinawa area, and it is quite a spectacle to see them playing in the waters.

On many tours, guests see mother whales swimming alongside their calves, which is a beautiful and magical sight.

Whale Watching
Whale Watching, Okinawa

If you haven’t seen a whale spraying water out of its blowhole, you sure will after taking a whale watching tour!

Tours can be taken from any of the islands, especially the main island. So you won’t have to do a whole lot of traveling before departing on the tour. Be sure to check for availability in advance, as you sure don’t want to miss out on this great opportunity.

If you’re visiting Okinawa between January and March, this is sure to be one of your favorite activities on your Okinawa itinerary.

Day 1 / Stop 5 – Watch the Sunset at Cape Manzamo

Around 2 hours drive from previous stop.

  • Why it’s awesome: Cape Manzamo is a 20-meter tall cliff face that faces the East China Sea.
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Sea House is just a 6-minute drive from Cape Manzamo and serves absolutely delicious seafood. If you’re a vegetarian, their tofu is amazing too and should be enjoyed in a generous portion. Sea House is the perfect place to stop for dinner before heading back to your hotel.

If you are travelling to Okinawa during summer, you may have time to go to Cape Manzamo to watch the sunset. Cape Manzamo is a beautiful cliff face that has formed naturally over thousands of years. It’s a spectacular sight and well worth the trip to Onna Village.

Many tourists visit this location, but not many of them know that the best time to visit is while the sun is setting. We recommend you aim to get there a few minutes before sunset so you can enjoy the incredible scenery.

Cape Manzamo
Cape Manzamo, Okinawa

From the top of the cliff, you’ll see dramatic views of the rough sea below and craggy caves that have formed into the cliff face.

Be sure to take your camera along for this trip as you’ll want to remember this beautiful view!

During low tide, a picturesque tidal pool is formed at the bottom of the cliff face. This has become a popular scuba diving spot as there is plenty of marine life to see around this area. If you’re an avid scuba diver, be sure to learn about this spot before heading into the water!

IN A RUSH? THIS IS OUR FAVORITE HOSTEL IN OKINAWA!

Okinawa Sora House

Okinawa Sora House is perfectly located close to the monorail that can transport you to anywhere on the island.!

  • Free WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Reception (limited hours)

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Book your transport on Bookaway now to guarantee your seat and for the right price.

Day 2 Itinerary in Okinawa

  Fishing | Taste of Okinawa | Makishi Market | Naha City

We’re sure after your first day full of exciting activities in Okinawa, you’ll be ready for your second! Here are a few more activities you simply must add to your 2-day itinerary in Okinawa!

Day 2 / Stop 1 – Go fishing

  • Why it’s awesome: Okinawa is known for its fishing industry, so why not join in?
  • Cost: Free! (Just buy your own fishing rod)
  • Food nearby: Heki is a traditional Okinawan restaurant that serves absolutely excellent food. This is a great place for meat and fish lovers, as they have a great variety of meaty options.

Okinawa is known for its thriving fishing industry, so there’s no better place to pull out your rod and throw a line in the water.

There are an absolutely endless amount of fishing spots around Okinawa’s main island and the surrounding islands, you really can’t go wrong.

The waters are teeming with exotic marine life. There are many fish species that you can expect to catch in this region, tuna, marlin, and mahi-mahi are just a few of the most commonly caught species around the islands.

Fishing
Fishing, Okinawa

If you’re a more experienced fisherman, why not hire a fishing charter. This will allow you to change up your fishing position a few times and increase your chances of a great catch. The charters will allow you to make use of their fishing equipment, so you won’t need to organize your own.

Make sure you’re aware of the fishing limits and restrictions in the area before setting out as you don’t want to be guilty of overfishing.

Day 2 / Stop 2 – Take an Okinawan Cooking Class at the Taste of Okinawa

  • Why it’s awesome: Learning the traditional cooking method of Okinawa is a fantastic experience that will leave you more knowledgeable than you were before.
  • Cost: USD $60 per person
  • Food nearby: You’ll have plenty to eat after making your tasty Okinawan dish at the Taste of Okinawa. But, if you’re not in the mood for eating your own creation, you’re more than welcome to take a seat at the restaurant and indulge in a chef-made meal and a beer tasting.

What better way to learn about the Okinawan culture than a class on how to prepare and make a traditional Okinawan meal. At the Taste of Okinawa, you can do just that!

You’ll begin this Okinawan cooking experience by taking a short tour of the nearby market. On this tour, you’ll learn about the locally grown products and select the specific ingredients you’ll need to create a traditional dish.

Okinawan Cooking Class at the Taste of Okinawa
Okinawan Cooking Class at the Taste of Okinawa, Okinawa

After the market tour, you’ll be a lot more knowledgeable about the ingredients you’re using and you’ll head back to Taste of Okinawa to begin your course. During the course, you’ll get the chance to showcase your cooking skills with the help of a guiding chef!

The chef is multilingual, allowing them to communicate with all the students in the class.

You’ll create an appetizer, a main dish, soup, and a dessert. This is a wonderful hands-on Okinawan experience that will allow you to meet new people and bump into one or two fellow travelers.

Day 2 / Stop 3 – Shop at the Makishi Market

Around 5 minutes walk from previous stop.

  • Why it’s awesome: The market is known locally as “the kitchen of Okinawa”.
  • Cost: Free to browse!
  • Food nearby: There are plenty of local dishes to try at the market. In fact, we recommend buying a bunch of small meals while you’re walking around so that you can try a bit of everything. There are unique dishes in this market that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, so it’s important to give them a try!

The Makishi Market, known as ‘the kitchen of Okinawa’, dates all the way back to the second world war. As you may have guessed, you can find all sorts of edible goods at this market. Fresh produce,   meals, and all sorts of traditional dishes to indulge in.

The market started during World War II and has continued to be the life and soul of the Okinawa food trade ever since. It’s not just for tourists and locals, but chefs come from all over Okinawa to source their ingredients for even the most prestigious restaurants in the area.

Makishi Market
Makishi Market, Okinawa | image source: SteFou! (flickr)

There are now over 400 shops here, some selling local ingredients that can’t be found anywhere else in Japan. The local dishes sold at the market are of amazing quality and a must-try during your holiday.

If you love unique dishes, foods, and markets, this is the perfect place to spend the afternoon!

Day 2 / Stop 4 – Enjoy Naha Nightlife

Around 10 minutes walk from previous stop.

  • Why it’s awesome: See the city come alive at night as a bustling hub of activity continues throughout the night.
  • Cost: Free to walk around!
  • Food nearby: Churansan Tei serves late-night food to those heading out on the town. You can expect delicious Japanese cuisine and small plates of seafood! Everything they serve is absolutely delightful and satisfies the palate completely!

Many of the islands in Okinawa are quiet and peaceful in the evenings, which is wonderful if you’re looking for rest and recuperation. However, if you’re looking for lively entertainment, busy restaurants, and nightclubs, then Naha is the place to be in the nightlife scene.

The difference between Okinawan nightlife and that of other places in the world is the fact that many of the nightclubs play traditional Okinawan folk music, making for a very interesting and unique evening!

Naha night life
Naha nightlife, Okinawa | image source: CCONE (shutterstock)

Many of the restaurants are open until the early hours of the morning, so if you decide to take a pause from all the clubbing, there are plenty of places to relax and have a casual drink and a seat while you gear up for another round.

You couldn’t possibly get lonely during a night out in Naha, as there are so many people out and about just like you are. Be sure to go club-hopping as there are so many great clubs to choose from! Having a taste of each is the best way to experience Okinawa nightlife.

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Day 3 and Beyond

Churaumi Aquarium | Scenic Drive | Snorkeling and Scuba Diving | Kokusai Dori Street | Kouri Island | Iriomote Island

If you’re spending more than 2-days in Okinawa, you’re going to need a few more activities to add to your 3-day itinerary in Okinawa. Here are a few of our favorite must-do activities in Okinawa!

Visit Churaumi Aquarium

  • Churaumi Aquarium is the biggest aquarium in all of Japan.
  • Adults entrance fee costs USD $17 and Children fee is USD $9
  • If you’re hungry, try the Ocean View Restaurant Inoh. This casual restaurant offers spectacular sea-views and is a great place to bring kids. The food is wonderful and the portions are a great size!

The Churaumi Aquarium is a very popular attraction in Okinawa! In fact, since its opening in 2002, it’s attracted over 20 million visitors, and we’re sure you’ll want to be one of them.

The main attraction is called the Kuroshio Sea, which is a very large fish tank that holds over 7 500 000 liters of salt water. The tank contains whale sharks, manta rays and hundreds of other sea creatures that swim freely within the tank.

Churaumi Aquarium
Churaumi Aquarium, Okinawa | image source: leungchopan (shutterstock)

The aquarium also has many other displays including their coral reef and deep-sea exhibit. If you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day in Okinawa, this is the perfect activity to keep you entertained, and you’ll be able to learn a great deal about the marine life in the Okinawa region.

Go on a Scenic Drive

  • Okinawa is known to have the most scenic drives out of anywhere in Japan.
  • To rent a car generally only costs around USD $47 per day.
  • You’ll get the chance to see more of the beautiful island.

Many of the islands in Okinawa are joined together by bridges, making it easy to create a long, even a full-days drive through the islands. Throughout most of the islands, you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular scenery as you drive.

Rolling forested hills will give way to rocky sea cliffs and calming sea views. There are plenty of places along the way to stop for magnificent views of the ocean and surrounding areas.

Okinawa roads are generally very wide and safe, and you’ll be pleased to know that traffic has never been a problem in Okinawa. So you can ride through the cities and countryside without fear of sitting in bumper to bumper traffic.

Scenic Drive
Scenic Drive, Okinawa

If you’re planning a full-day drive, be sure to pack a picnic that you can enjoy somewhere along the road, or find an incredible restaurant along the way. There are many of those to choose from in Okinawa, so you’ll never get hungry!

For those who aren’t too keen on an Okinawa walking tour, this is the perfect way to explore the island, and take incredible photos of the wonderful sights you’re sure to see along the way.

If you don’t want to hire a car, going by bus is always an option, however, you’ll lose a lot of the freedom you’d have if you went by car.

Go Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

  • Beautiful diving and snorkeling spots
  • Coral reefs to explore
  • You’ll pay around USD $50 for a day of snorkeling or scuba diving

It’s no secret that Okinawa has some of the most biodiverse, beautiful and unique oceans in the world. With coral species that only exist off Okinawa’s shores, they’re dead set on protecting them! And boy are we grateful!

There are so many diving, snorkeling and scuba diving options in Okinawa. Try your hand at cave diving, which is done with underwater lights to illuminate your path. This is a really magical experience and you’re sure to see some interesting underwater life.

You could head off to the Kerama islands, which have become one of the most popular snorkeling sites in Okinawa. They are home to the most stunning coral reefs, that host an overwhelming amount of sea-life. You’re likely to encounter a few sea turtles and many tropical fish.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving, Okinawa

If you visit Onna Village, you’ll find two great snorkeling sites that are based at the bottom of a cliff. Cape Manza and Cape Maeda are lovely places to snorkel as the underwater scenery is just as beautiful of that above water. The seas are very calm in the area, making it the perfect place for beginner snorkelers to start out.

Diving off Miyako island is also an amazing experience as the water is a bright and tropical blue. Making the most of the time you have in Okinawa is imperative to having a great trip. Be sure you add this amazing experience to your Okinawa itinerary!

Browse Kokusai Dori Street

  • Kokusai is the shopping hub of Okinawa
  • 2 kilometers long
  • Located in Naha city

If you love a good shop-til-you-drop experience, you’re going to thoroughly enjoy a trip to Kokusai Dori Street. The name of the street means “International Road” and it’s not hard to imagine why. It’s located right in the heart of Naha city, making it extremely accessible if you’re staying on Okinawa’s main island.

Looking for the perfect souvenirs to take back home to your family and friends, you’re sure to find it in this massive shopping hub. It’s easily comparable to Bangkok’s Khaosan Street. You’ll find it’s a bustling hub of activity at any time of day, and during peak season, tourists flock to this incredible street.

Kokusai Dori Street
Kokusai Dori Street, Okinawa | image source: Daniel Ramirez (flickr)

Filled with every kind of shop you can possibly think of, as well as a multitude of restaurants, cafes and salons, you simply cannot run out of things to do here. In fact, if you’re spending a week in Okinawa, we recommend taking an entire day from your Okinawa itinerary to explore and browse this lively area.

Many of the stores are open right up until 10 pm at night, giving you plenty of time to explore each one. Live music can be found in many of the restaurants, ensuring you’re well entertained the whole evening.

No vacation is complete without a shopping experience whilst mingling with the locals. You’re sure to love this activity hub in the heart of Naha city.

Travel to Kouri Island

  • 1-hour drive from Naha city
  • Cross the spectacular Kouri bridge
  • See the heart rock

During your holiday in Okinawa, you’re going to want to spend some of your time exploring the other islands. The main island is wonderful, but the other islands have a great deal to offer too.

Kouri island is absolutely beautiful! It has arguably the best beaches in all of Okinawa. White sands, and turquoise waters perfect for snorkeling or diving! It’s a must-visit while you’re staying in Okinawa.

The good news is that Kouri island is just a 1-hour drive away from Naha city! There is a spectacular bridge that attaches Kouri island to the main island, making it very easily accessible for tourists and locals alike.

Kouri Island
Kouri Island, Okinawa | image source: San Hoyano (shutterstock)

The views you’ll see from the bridge are unmatched! Take in the scenery as you drive over crystal clear blue waters! There’s nothing like a wonderful view to take your breath away!

Once you’re on Kouri island, spend the day exploring and perhaps swimming and snorkeling in the beautiful clear water.

If you don’t feel like renting a car, there are plenty of buses that will take you to Kouri island, and you can even do a bus tour around the island. This way, you’ll learn a lot about this beautiful island paradise while taking in the spectacular views.

Be sure to visit Tinu beach to see “Heart Rock”, a heart-shaped rock that sticks up out of the water and makes for some beautiful photos.

Take a Trip to Iriomote Island

  • Known for its jungle vegetation
  • Less touristy than the main island
  • The whole island is a national park

Iriomote is very different from the rest of the islands in Okinawa. It’s jungle vegetation and wildlife inhabitants set it apart from the rest! In fact, 90% of the island is covered in dense jungle.

The easiest way to get to Iriomote island is by speedboat from Ishigaki island. This generally takes around 40 minutes, but is well worth the trip.

You’ll want to spend all day exploring Iriomotes rich and abundant nature! The best way to explore the outskirts of the island is by sea kayak. This should be arranged before you make the trip!

Just like all the other islands in Okinawa, the beaches are absolutely gorgeous and the sea water is crystal clear. This makes snorkeling and diving a great option while you’re on the island. But that’s not all there is to do.

Iriomote Island
Iriomote Island, Okinawa | image source: PAUL ATKINSON (shutterstock)

Hiking through the jungle vegetation is a great way to get to know the island a little more. If you’re lucky, you may even see an Iriomote cat. These cats are critically endangered and are only found on Iriomote Island.

If you’d like to spend a little more time in the water, paddle boarding is a great activity to take part in. The water is flat and still, making it an easy way to get around from one side of the island to the other.

book-iconDon’t forget to pack a good book! Lonely Planet Japan (Travel Guide): is our top recommendation for an awesome and inspiring read on this magical city.

Staying Safe in Okinawa

Just like Japan’s mainland, Okinawa is a very safe place, however, it’s always good to take precautions and be vigilant during your vacation abroad!

The sun in Okinawa is very strong, so it’s important to protect your skin against sunburn and sunstroke. Be sure to use a strong SPF sunscreen when you travel to Okinawa, as you don’t want to spend your holiday with sore and itchy skin.

There are many beaches in Okinawa where swimming is banned due to dangerous sea creatures and sudden tidal changes that could sweep you out to sea. Be sure to check signs on the beach to make sure you’re swimming in a safe area.

The authorities in Okinawa also ask beach-goers not to swim during low tide as they may damage the extremely rare coral reefs found in the area.

There are many different snake species on the islands that are considered highly dangerous to humans. These snakes become hyperactive in the heat of the day and can be found in open grasslands, forested areas and sometimes even in city parks. It’s best to keep your eyes peeled for snakes and make sure your ankles are covered when going out into open grassy areas.

Snake bites are not an extremely common occurrence in Okinawa, but they do happen, and we’d rather they didn’t happen to you! All in all though, you should be fine as long as you apply basic safety precautions.

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Day Trips From Okinawa

If you’re spending more than 3 days in Okinawa, you’re going to need a few more activities to add to your 3 day Okinawa itinerary. Here are our favorite day-trips from Okinawa, that we’re sure you’ll love.

Full-Day UNESCO and Historical Sites Day-Trip from Okinawa

Full Day UNESCO and Historical Sites Day Trip from Okinawa
Be ready to see some incredible landmarks for a total of 9 hours!

While this tour takes place on Japan’s mainland, it’s an important tour that will help you understand Japan a whole lot better!

This 9-hour tour excludes the time you’ll spend traveling from Okinawa. You’ll get the chance to see some incredible historical landmarks, indulge in a tasty Japanese style lunch and explore some of Japan’s most mystical temples.

Be sure to take your camera along for the day-trip as you’ll see some stunning views along the way. You’ll also get the chance to stop off at any location you feel drawn to, to snap you few photos before continuing on your tour.

Mt Fuji and Hakone Cruise and Bus Tour

Mt Fuji and Hakone Cruise and Bus Tour
The impressive active volcano, Mt Fuji

This day trip also takes place on Japan mainland, but it’s well worth the trip!

You’ll start your trip with a visit to Mt Fuji and experience its splendor. You’ll stop at the entrance to climb the mountain and make your way up the path. You’ll have access to one of the mountains most epic viewing points to stop and take photos before heading to a buffet lunch with breathtaking mountain views.

You’ll then head out on a cruise on Lake Ashi, which also offers spectacular views and incredible photo opportunities.

3 Island Day-Trip From Okinawa

3 Island Day-Trip From Okinawa
You’ll be island hopping for a day

During this day-trip, you’ll get the chance to visit the 3 most interesting islands in the Okinawa island region.

On Iriomote island you can enjoy mangrove views, then you’ll visit Yufu island and take an exciting water buffalo tour before sitting down to an indulgent lunch.

You’ll then head to Taketomi island where you’ll take a bus sightseeing tour. You’ll see the village with its quaint red roofs and buffalo leisurely walking around. After your bus tour, you’ll head to the main beach for some sunbathing, before heading back to Okinawa’s main island.

Cultural and Spiritual Tour with Zen Meditation

Cultural and Spiritual Tour with Zen Meditation
Connect with your spiritual side

This tour will see you visiting Japan’s mainland and going on a quest to find your zen. You’ll visit an ancient mountaintop temple and marvel at the incredible views of the valley below.

You’ll then be instructed in the art of meditation by a real Buddhist monk! This is quite an experience and definitely sets the mood for the rest of your weekend in Okinawa.

You’ll get the opportunity to partake in a peaceful green-tea ceremony in a sacred zen temple, before wandering through an ancient bamboo grove.

All these wonderful activities will make you feel at peace and put you in a great mind frame to enjoy the rest of your holiday.

Temples Tour to Kamakura

Temples Tour to Kamakura
The area offers numerous temples and shrines

On this 10-hour tour, you’ll have to visit Japan’s mainland to explore some of the many religious temples in the country.

You’ll visit Japan’s ancient capital – Kamakura, and visit the cities most iconic Buddha statue. As well as a variety of old temples and sacred buildings.

Along the way, you’ll visit many traditional buildings and learn about the history of the samurai. You’ll also get the chance to stop off for lunch at one of Japans best seaside restaurants and enjoy incredible ocean views.

You’ll then get the chance to undergo a kimono makeover and walk away from the tour with your very own traditional kimono. It really is a day trip not to be missed.

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Conclusion

Now that you know all the top places to visit in Okinawa, you can start planning your ultimate Okinawa itinerary.

Although not as popular as many other island destinations, it comes with so many perks. You won’t see throngs of tourists crowding the Okinawa landmarks, and the beaches will be fairly quiet most of the year, leaving you to enjoy the island paradise in peace!

Now that you know what to do in Okinawa, you can begin planning a trip to Okinawa with ease. Your next holiday is sure to be a winner if you stick to out Okinawa itinerary to make the very most of your vacation. If you still need some more isnpiration, check out our list of unique places and hidden gems to visit in Okinawa.

Touring Okinawa has never been this easy! Choosing a few activities from our selection of the very best ensures your holiday will be jam-packed with exciting entertainment! What are you waiting for? Your paradise awaits you!

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