Okinawa



Okinawa Travel Guide

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Kintsugi!

Okinawa is the southernmost area of ​​Japan and consists of several smaller islands. Okinawa Prefecture can be divided into 3 island groups: Okinawa Shoto, Okinawa Honto and Miyako Retto. The prefecture is sometimes also called Ryukyu Islands and comes from an older, local culture and name.

Japanese paradise

Okinawa is known for its white beaches, crystal clear waters and wonderful coral reefs. The area has a subtropical climate which makes it warm all year round – unlike the rest of Japan. The main island consists of hundreds of beautiful beaches with several world-class activities and resorts.

When to visit

The best time of year to visit Okinawa for those who want to avoid tourists is the end of March – October. Okinawa can of course be visited all year round, but some beaches are closed to the public due to the weather. The advantage of making their visit in March – April is the amount of people. There are significantly fewer tourists and less stress at the beginning of the year but with full access to all beaches. However, the water temperature may be slightly lower (20-23 degrees), which may suit some tourists.

Mid-May to mid-June is classified as the area’s rainy season. This does not usually bother people who visit Okinawa to snorkel and dive. The high season begins in July along with the rest of Japan and offers a wonderful stay for those who can handle the heat. Unfortunately, prices for accommodation and flights are significantly higher during this period of the year. Temperatures above 30 degrees daily are not uncommon.

The hurricane season is unfortunately from July to October, and Okinawa is hit annually by 5-8 hurricanes, which can lead to canceled flights and ferries due to high tide, strong winds and high waves.

September to October is another good time of year to visit Okinawa. The summer is long in Japan and the weather is generally good and the water temperature closer to 25 degrees.

Miyakojima

Miyako Island is an island, 300 KM southwest of the main island. The island is best known for its wonderful beaches and coral reefs that surround the island. A very popular destination among divers.

Yonaha Maehama beach has on several occasions won the award as “Japan’s finest beach”. A large number of resorts are located along this wonderful beach.

Note that the island is located far south of the main island of Okinawa and requires transportation by air. The flight between the mainland of Okinawa and the island of Miyako-jima takes about 55 minutes and usually costs around 100-150 euro round trip.

Gyokusendo

Gyokusendo cave or Gyoku Sendo is a naturally created museum over the last 300,000 years for the public to visit. Expect blue and crystal clear water along with limestone shaped like spears hanging from the ceiling.

Gyokusendo is the largest of many caves in Okinawa but also ends up as the second largest cave system in all of Japan after Akiyoshido. Unfortunately, the public only has access to 1 of the 5-kilometer-long limestone passages.

Coral reef

The best thing about Okinawa is said to be underwater! The coral reef in Okinawa consists of around 200 different types of coral and is home to lots of colorful and beautiful animals. This attracts thousands of divers and tourists from all over the world every year. 

The water temperature fluctuates between 21-30 degrees and is the only place in Japan where you can dive and snorkel all year round. In addition to all the fish, the reef is also home to animals such as manta, hammerhead shark, humpback whale and four species of turtles.

The area also offers diving trips out to Kouri-jima for exploration of the sunken ship USS Emmons, caves and underwater ruins.

Shuri-jo

Shuri Castle also known as Shuri-jō or Shurigusuku was an Okinawan castle in the Shuri area and was largely destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The temple was re-created and restored in 1992 using historical descriptions, notes, memories and photographs found.

Shuri-jo has been a World Heritage Site since 2000 but unfortunately managed to be damaged again in 2019 by a fire that started in the area.

Churaumi Aquarium

The aquarium is the largest in Japan and is located at Ocean Expo Park on the northern part of the main island. Ranked as one of Japan’s best aquariums and has welcomed over 20 million visitors since 2002. 

The main attraction to visit is the Kuoshio Sea, a 7,500,000 liter water tank. Home to whale sharks, manta rays and lots of other fish. A perfect visit for a rainy day in Okinawa.

Memorial Park

Okinawa Peace Memorial Park is a memorial site for those who fell victim during World War II. The Battle of Okinawa during World War II claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and the devastation was extreme. The country took a big hit during this war and wants to honor its compatriots and victims with a memorial site in Itoman Ciry (northern part of the main island of Okinawa). The area also consists of the Peave Memorial Museum and the Himeyuti Monument.

Cape Manza

Manzamo / Cape Manza is a spectacular vantage point near Onna Village in the northern part of Okinawa’s main island. Very popular between photographers during sunset and sunrise as it offers a great view. Bring your camera and enjoy a fantastic sight!

Kourijima

Kourijima also called Kouri Island is a small island about 1km north of the main island. The island can be visited by car due to the Kouri Bridge, one of the country’s most spectacular bridges due to its view. The island has some of Okinawa’s finest beaches and tropical green waters.

The northern part of the island offers a very popular attraction “the Heart Rock”. Kouri island is easily reached by car or bus from Naha City and takes only an hour. A perfect day trip if you are visiting Okinawa.

Iriomotejima

Iriomote Island is the largest island in the archipelago of the Yaeyama Islands and consists 90% of untouched jungle. The whole island is overgrown with jungle and classified as a national park. Popular tourist attractions to explore on the island are kayaking, hiking and exploring the island’s unspoilt nature. You will find several beaches with crystal clear water and white sand along the coast of the entire island.

Ishigakijima

Ishigaki Island belongs to the archipelago of Yaeyama Island and is the southernmost part of the Okinawa Islands. The island is the second largest and most popular in its archipelago. The island is also used as a center point and transport location for travelers heading to Iromote Island and Taketomi Island. 

Ishigakijima, like all other islands in the area, has several wonderful beaches, monuments, rich nature and several luxury resorts. Ishigaki is also much calmer and more relaxing compared to Okinawa’s main island.

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Weather

OKINAWA
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The warmest months of the year are July and August. The coldest are December and January.

You do not have to worry about holding on to your valuables or walking around with large sums of cash. The Japanese are a very loyal and well-educated people with very few thieves and the like. Seeing younger children ride the subway home from school alone is not an unusual sight to see in Japan. Of course, there are jerks everywhere, but Japan has very few of them.

Okinawa Airport is called Naha Airport (OKA).

It is easy to get to Naha with domestic flights from the mainland and with international flights from eg South Korea. A recommended alternative is to visit Okinawa for a couple of days if you are in South Korea for longer than 14 days.

Japan uses the Japanese Yen – JPY.

We recommend a small change before the trip at Forex or another currency exchange to be able to pay for any transport from the airport, food and drinks on site.

Secure ATMs for cash withdrawals are available around the city. You do not have to worry about walking around with larger sums of cash as the country is very safe.

7-eleven usually have a very good exchange rate. We therefore recommend that you only bring a small amount and withdraw more cash on the spot.

Do not change at the Airport. Visit a bank or 7-eleven in town.

Tips are not appreciated by the staff and can sometimes be considered offensive.

If you want to tip, in that case ask the staff before if it’s okay. Most likely you will get a no, as tips are not part of their everyday life.

Charger

Japan uses socket A, adapter might be required.

VISA

Check the status of your country here.

Timezone

Japan is in the timezone GMT+9. Expect jetlag.

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