Where to Stay in Okinawa (2019 • COOLEST Areas!)

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Okinawa is a group of islands located south of the main Japanese archipelago and gives a taste of the tropics in Japan. Hot springs, turquoise waters and warm temperatures year-round is what you can expect from a trip to Okinawa. Tempting, isn’t it?

However, knowing the best area to stay in Okinawa can get tricky. In addition, accommodation in Japan can quickly become an expensive affair.

This is exactly why I have put together this guide on where to stay in Okinawa.

After reading this guide, you will be an expert on where to stay in Okinawa and will know all the tips and tricks to turn your stay in Okinawa into a dream vacation.

Whether you are travelling on a budget, with kids or your significant other, there is a place for you in Okinawa! Let’s dive in a look at precisely where to stay in Okinawa.

 

Quick Answers – Where To Stay In Okinawa

  • Where to stay in Okinawa your first time – Nago
  • Where to stay in Okinawa on a budget – Iriomote
  • Best area to stay in Okinawa for nightlife – Naha
  • Coolest place to stay in Okinawa – Ishigaki
  • Best neighbourhood in Okinawa for families – Kerama Islands

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

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Nago
Nago is a city located in the northern part of the main Okinawa island. It is a popular destination for visitors to the archipelago and a great place to stay for your first visit to Okinawa.
Places to Visit:
  • Encounter tropical marine life at the Busena Marine Park
  • Take the kids out to see wildlife at the Neo Park Zoo
  • Discover pineapples under a new angle at the Pineapple Park

 

Where To Stay In Okinawa

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Okinawa.

 

Best Hostel in Okinawa – Seawall Hostel

Seawall Hostel is located on Okinawa main island and offers budget accommodation next to the beautiful sea. The hostel offers both private rooms with a shared bathroom and bunk beds in dorm rooms. The beds have their own reading light and a dark curtain for privacy. Free wifi and a free parking are available for guests.

If you love hostels, you should check out our list of the coolest hostels in Okinawa!

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Best Budget Hotel in Okinawa – Hotel Stork Naha

Hotel Stork Naha offers simple but comfortable rooms in the capital of Okinawa, Naha. The rooms feature a loft bed, a private bathroom, air conditioning and a desk area. The hotel also provides a free wifi connection and guests can use a shared kitchen at their convenience. Soft drinks can also be consumed for free.

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Best Mid-Range Hotel in Okinawa – Hotel Sunset Zanpa

Hotel Sunset Zanpa is located in Yomitan, on the main Okinawa island. It offers comfortable and spacious rooms fitted with a private bathroom with free toiletries, air conditioning,  flat screen TV, a microwave and a fridge. Bicycles can be rented directly from the hotel.

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Okinawa Neighbourhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Okinawa

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Nago

  • Nago is a city located in the northern part of the main Okinawa island. It is a popular destination for visitors to the archipelago and a great place to stay for your first visit to Okinawa.
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Iriomote

  • Iriomote is an island located in the Okinawa archipelago. It is the second largest island in the archipelago by size. Iriomote is home to the southernmost National Park in Japan and is almost fully covered by dense jungle and tropical forest.
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Naha

  • Naha is the city where the main Okinawa airport is located, and thus where most visitors first stop when coming to Okinawa. There is a small white sand beach in the city, where locals like to come to take a dip in the morning.
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Ishigaki

  • Ishigaki is an island located in the south of the Okinawa archipelago. It is the most popular destination for people looking to spend a holiday at the beach. Several spots are popular with visitors around the island, such as Yonehara Beach, Sukuji Beach or Sunset Beach.
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Kerama Islands

  • Kerama designates a small group of islands within the Okinawa archipelago, located around 30 kilometres away from Naha, the biggest city of the main Okinawa island.
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Okinawa is a group of islands located south of the main Japan archipelago, in the East China Sea.  With the development of budget airlines in the region, Okinawa is becoming more and more popular with visitors all year round. People come to Okinawa to get the Japanese spirit in a tropical setting, with lots of snorkelling available.

The main Okinawa island is also the biggest, and where most people stop when they come to Okinawa. Naha is the capital of the prefecture of Okinawa and the biggest city around. It is also where the main airport is located. Visitors will find shopping, gardens, old temples and well-restored castles.

Nature and jungle lovers will head straight to Iriomote, where deep forests and mangroves have taken over. There is no landing strip on the island, so the only way to come there is by boat. You can then take cruises along the Urauchi River, trek in the jungle and go waterfall chasing.

Diving is one of the most popular activities in the Okinawa islands. Underwater, it is possible to see beautiful coral reefs, and animals such as tropical fish, manta rays, hammerhead sharks and turtles. Kerama, Ishigaki and Miyako are among the best diving spots.

Some people also come to Okinawa to surf, although the spots here are not recommended for beginners. Indeed, the waves can be challenging as they break over the shallow waters filled with rocks and coral reefs. The best surfing spots are located around the main island.

 

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5 Best Neighbourhoods To Stay In Okinawa

It is time to take a closer look at the best neighbourhoods in Okinawa. Check out which one is your favourite!

 

1. Nago – Where to stay in Okinawa your first time

Nago is a city located in the northern part of the main Okinawa island. It is a popular destination for visitors to the archipelago and a great place to stay for your first visit to Okinawa. Many resorts have popped up in Nago, allowing tourists to just come, unpack their bags and enjoy all the activities around them.

The beach remains one of the main attractions in Nago, but several other activities are available for those who are looking for something a little bit different. The Busena Marine Park boasts an underwater structure which lets you get a glimpse of what marine life looks like without getting wet.

The quirky Pineapple Park educates visitors about the cultivation of pineapples, with an entertaining twist. Pineapple carts, food tasting, sculptures and funny souvenirs will be on the programme!

Nago, Okinawa

image source: Flickr

 

Things to see and do in Nago

– Encounter tropical marine life at the Busena Marine Park

– Take the kids out to see wildlife at the Neo Park Zoo

– Discover pineapples under a new angle at the Pineapple Park

– Enjoy the beach and the clear waters on a sunny day

– Learn about the culture and history of Okinawa at the Nago Museum

 

Best Hostel in Nago – All Friends Guesthouse

All Friends Guesthouse is a very nice hostel in Nago, Okinawa. It offers individual beds in female or mixed dorm rooms fitted with air conditioning. Each guest is provided with a security locker and can enjoy a hot shower, an outdoor terrace and a free wifi connection.

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Best Budget Hotel in Nago – Hotel Yugaf Inn Okinawa

The hotel Yugaf Inn Okinawa offers modernly decorated rooms in Nago. Each room is fitted with a private bathroom with a bathtub, air conditioning and a flat screen TV. In the morning, a very good breakfast is served. At the hotel, guests can enjoy a free wifi connection and an airport shuttle service.

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Best Mid-Range Hotel in Nago – Centurion Hotel Resort Okinawa Nago City

The Centurion Hotel offers spacious rooms featuring a private bathroom, air conditioning, a flat screen TV and a work desk. Family rooms accommodation up to 6 people are available. In the morning, a good buffet breakfast is served for guests in the restaurant and free wifi is offered.

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2. Iriomote – Where to stay in Okinawa on a budget

Iriomote is an island located in the Okinawa archipelago. It is the second largest island in the archipelago by size. Iriomote is home to the southernmost National Park in Japan and is almost fully covered by dense jungle and tropical forest.

As a consequence, activities on Iriomote somehow differ from the traditional beach-centred one on the other islands and is a real heaven for nature lovers.

While numerous trail paths are present all around the island, the most challenging one goes through the interior of the island for 20 kilometres. This should be attempted by experienced hikers only.

River cruises are also a popular activity in Iriomote. It is a way to comfortably explore the jungle scenery of the island. Some cruises also include a small hike to some beautiful waterfalls or even a kayak guided tour.

Iriomote, Okinawa

 

Things to see and do in Iriomote

– Rent a kayak and paddle away in the sea or the river

– Hike the 20 kilometre-long trail path across the island

– Dive in Manta Way and swim among the manta ray schools

– Hop on a river cruise on the Urauchi river

 

Best Hostel in Iriomote – Ishigaki Guesthouse Hive

Ishigaki Guesthouse Hive is located on the Ishigaki island, just a short boat ride away from Iriomote. It offers beds in dormitory rooms, either mixed or female only. In addition, the hostel provides a free wifi connection as well as fresh linen and towels. The reception is open around the clock and can store your luggage.

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Best Budget Hotel in Iriomote – Villa Hirugi

Villa Hirugi is a budget hotel located on the island of Iriomote, on top of a hill in the middle of the jungle. Rooms include a shared bathroom and toilet, a balcony with a sea view and air conditioning. Free wifi and a TV are available for guest use in the common dining room.

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Best Mid-Range Hotel in Iriomote – Hotel Nirakanai Iriomotejima

The Hotel Nirakanai offers comfortable rooms fitted with a private bathroom with a bathtub, air conditioning, a flat screen TV, a private terrace and a view over the garden. Outside, guests can enjoy an outdoor swimming pool and sun beds. The hotel also features a spa and a restaurant serving a buffet spread.

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3. Naha – Best area to stay in Okinawa for nightlife

Naha is the city where the main Okinawa airport is located, and thus where most visitors first stop when coming to Okinawa. There is a small white sand beach in the city, where locals like to come to take a dip in the morning.

The most popular sight in Naha, however, is the Shuri castle, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Although the original castle has been almost completely destroyed during World Word II, it has been rebuilt during the 1990s. Gaming fans may recognise the site as it appears in Call of Duty: World at War.

A visit to Naha can also be the occasion to bring some local souvenirs back. For that, head to the Tsubaya Pottery District, where you can see artists at work, buy some pottery and even take some classes if you want to learn how to make it yourself.

Naha, Okinawa

 

Things to see and do in Naha

– Visit the Shuri castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site

– Try some local soba noodles at the Shuri Soba restaurant

– Walk around and shop for souvenirs in Kokusai Dori

– Look for some traditional local pottery in the Tsubaya Pottery District

– Get a tan at Naminoue Beach

 

Best Hostel in Naha – My Place Guesthouse

My Place Guesthouse is a hostel in Naha offering private rooms and beds in dormitories. Upon arrival, guests are given fresh linen and a free wifi connection is available. Rooms are fitted with air conditioning or a fan and security lockers. The reception provides tour desk services and luggage storage.

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Best Budget Hotel in Naha – Almont Hotel Naha Kenchomae

Almont Hotel Naha Kenchomae offers comfortable and spacious rooms in Naha. Each room is fitted with a private bathroom with a bathtub and a bidet, a flat screen TV and a sofa. Guest can also enjoy a good buffet breakfast in the morning. The hotel is centrally located and close to Naha’s main attractions.

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Best Mid-Range Hotel in Naha – Rihga Royal Gran Okinawa

Rihga Royal Gran Okinawa offers spacious Western-style accommodation in the heart of Naha city. Each room is fitted with air conditioning, a private bathroom with a bathtub, a flat screen TV and a refrigerator. A very good buffet breakfast is served in the morning and guests can relax with a drink at the bar.

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4. Ishigaki – Coolest place to stay in Okinawa

Ishigaki is an island located in the south of the Okinawa archipelago. It is the most popular destination for people looking to spend a holiday at the beach. Several spots are popular with visitors around the island, such as Yonehara Beach, Sukuji Beach or Sunset Beach.

Ishigaki is also a popular snorkelling and diving spot in Okinawa. Equipment can be rented easily, and visitors can then admire the beauty of the coral reefs bordering the island as well as the diverse marine life living in it.

For those who are into culinary discoveries, trying the famous Ishigaki beef is a must-do. The beef in Ishigaki is famous for its wagyu-like quality and its tenderness. You can try it in various forms, including as sushi or sashimi! Of course, if you are more into raw fish, traditional sushi is also available everywhere and utterly delicious.

Finally, history lovers will love learning more about the island at the Yaeyama museum.

Ishigaki, Okinawa

 

Things to see and do in Ishigaki

– Laze the day away on the beach

– Go snorkelling in the coral reefs around Yonehara Beach

– Learn about the history of the island at the Yaeyama Museum

– Try a local speciality: sushi with raw Ishigaki beef

 

Best Hostel in Ishigaki – Ishigaki Guesthouse Hive

Ishigaki Guesthouse HIVE is a hostel located in Ishigaki’s main town. It offers beds in dormitory rooms, either mixed or female only. In addition, the hostel provides a free wifi connection as well as fresh linen and towels. The reception is open around the clock and can store your luggage.

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Best Budget Hotel in Ishigaki – Ishigakijima Hotel Cucule

The Hotel Cucule offers comfortable rooms decorated with wooden furniture in Ishigaki’s main town. Each room is fitted with a private bathroom with a bathtub, a flat screen TV, and is hypoallergenic. The hotel has a nice rooftop terrace boasting views over the city and the sea. The in-house restaurant serves local Okinawa cuisine.

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Best Mid-Range Hotel in Ishigaki – Hotel WBF Ishigakijima

Hotel WBF Ishigakijima is one of the most popular hotels on Ishigaki island. Guests will love the rooms with raw concrete walls, modern design and features a private bathroom with a bathtub. Some rooms also have a kitchenette and a microwave. A free wifi connection and free parking are available at the hotel.

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5. Kerama Islands – Best neighbourhood in Okinawa for families

Kerama designates a small group of islands within the Okinawa archipelago, located around 30 kilometres away from Naha, the biggest city of the main Okinawa island.

The Kerama islands enjoy some of the clearest ocean waters in the world, and as such are a prime spot to dive and snorkel. Underwater, visitors can expect stunning coral reefs, thousands of tropical fish, and loads of sea turtles. Tokashiki and Zamami are the two most popular islands for diving.

During the winter season, the area around the Kerama islands is used for migration by humpback whales. Whales come to the warm waters of Okinawa to reproduce and raise their children. Between January and March, it is easy to find a cruise which will take you out to the sea with a guarantee to see whales or your money back!

Kerama Islands, Okinawa

 

Things to see and do in Kerama Islands

– Snorkel among the sea turtles

– Take a tour to observe humpback whales migrating in the winter

– Learn to dive in the amazingly clear waters

– Get some rest in the sun on one of the beautiful white sand beaches

 

Best Hostel in Kerama Islands – Guesthouse Iyonshi

The Guesthouse Iyonshi is located on Zamami, one of the main Kerama islands. It offers standard rooms with bunk beds and Japanese style rooms with tatami flooring and futon beds. Each room includes air conditioning and a seating area. The bathrooms are shared between guests.

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Best Budget Hotel in Kerama Islands – Minshuku Yadokari

Minshuku Yoadakari is a budget hotel located in Zamami. It offers Japanese style bedrooms with tatami flooring and futon bedding, with a shared bathroom and air conditioning. In the morning, a traditional, home-cooked Japanese breakfast is served to guests. Free wifi is available around the property.

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Best Mid-Range Hotel un Kerama Islands – Shima Stay holoholo

Shima Stay offers spacious and comfortable rooms fitted with wooden floors, for conditioning, a flat screen TV and a private bathroom. The hotel is located on Zamami island and is close to all the main attractions and diving spots. The hotel is non-smoking and provides a free wifi connection.

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Our Final Thoughts On Where To Stay In Okinawa…

Okinawa offers a tropical experience in Japan. Traditional and yet so different from the main archipelago, a visit to Okinawa is a real must-do while visiting the land of the rising sun. From marvellous diving spots to dream-like white sand beaches, Okinawa has a lot to offer to its visitors and is as a consequence becoming increasingly popular.

The Hotel Sunset Zanpa, located on the main Okinawa island, is my favourite spot to stay in Okinawa. It offers comfortable rooms with a private bathroom, a few steps away from the beach.

For those travelling on a backpacker’s budget, the Seawall Hostel on the Okinawa main island is my number one pick for where to stay in Okinawa. There, you will be able to choose between dorm beds or private rooms with a shared bathroom.

Have I missed your favourite place in Okinawa? Let me know in the comments below! Happy travels!

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

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