What are some of the best things to do in Okinawa, Japan?
After all, Okinawa is a prefecture in Japan that consists of some 150 different islands. Now depending on which island you decide to visit, some may be inhabited by people where as the others are not.
Because of it’s location, it makes for a perfect place for anyone looking to have some fun relaxing at a beach where you can play in the sand, surf around, fish, swim, all while having the suns warm rays gazing upon you.
Since most of the places in Okinawa remains uninhabited, you are able to see an abundance of natural views and scenery all around. Plus since it is so far south from Japan, you won’t encounter any of the big city like places but instead a more traditional feel. It is a nice refreshing bit of change from the big cities you might normally see back in Japan.
If you are wondering what things you are able to do here in Okinawa, I got you covered.
Here are the 20 best things for you to do in Okinawa.
- 20 Things To Do In Okinawa, Japan
- Visit Okinawa Honto (Main Island)
- Eat Like The Locals
- Roam Around Iriomote
- Dive Around The Underwater Ruins Of Yonaguni
- Visit Shuri Castle
- Have Fun At Okinawa World
- Whale Watching
- Explore Around Kume
- Eat Soba Noodles At Yaeyama Islands
- Shop At Makishi Market
- Explore Taketomi And It’s Villages
- Stroll Through Akajima Island
- Check Out Nago
- Go Diving
- Learn Some History At Itoman
- Ocean Walk On Nagannu
- Swim At Ishigaki
- Visit The Museum On Yonaguni
- Sight See Through Miyako-jima
- Stroll Through The Nightlife at Naha
20 Things To Do In Okinawa, Japan
In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Okinawa, Japan.
Visit Okinawa Honto (Main Island)
Okinawa Honto, otherwise known as the Main Island, is the largest island in Okinawa. It is most commonly used as the starting point when traveling to Okinawa.
It is on this island where you can find a bunch of attractions like museums and shops that will brighten up your day. And because this island use to be a military base during World War Two, you will be able to learn some amazing information about the military background of Japan.
There is also an American military base here which still carries out drills. So occasionally you’ll see some places flying above your head when you roam around.
Eat Like The Locals
One thing you might find fascinating about Okinawa is that they have a completely different type of cuisine compared to many other parts of Japan. In fact, it is more similar to the Chinese style of cooking where pork is used in many of it’s dishes. It is here where you can find many assortment of dishes that feature tropical fruit like dragon fruit, papaya, etc as well as ingredients like bitter melon and purple yam.
Roam Around Iriomote
Fancy a walk through a place that is full of views and amazing scenery? Then why not head to Iriomote. It is an island that is close to Ishigaki and is know for having luscious green forestry jungles. You can choose to hike around and get a good look at what inside the jungle looks like, or you can also kayak around the island and enjoy the nice ocean breeze.
Dive Around The Underwater Ruins Of Yonaguni
Yonaguni island is a place filled with amazing secrets. It has become a popular place for many people to dive around as there is an amazing underwater ruins located here. Many of the ruins are at least over 8,000 years old and are made from solid rock. In fact, there are even legends about the ruins that state that they were a part of a lost continent called Mu. Overall it is a fantastic area for divers everywhere as you can check out the ruins or just swim around with the fishes.
Visit Shuri Castle
One of the main attractions you are able to see while on the main island is called Shuri Castle. It was home to the rulers of the Ryukyu Kingdom back in the past.
Sadly enough, the castle has been destroyed multiple times and had to be restored. So the castle you see right now is not the original. However it still gives off a sense of history and pride that this place once had. Plus the architecture is what draws people here the most as it was built in the old traditional Okinawan style.
Have Fun At Okinawa World
Okinawa World is a small theme park that is located on the main island. The park’s main attractions are a massive natural cave, a craft village and a snake museum. Inside the cave spans around 900 meters filled with amazing views of stalagmites and stalactite formations all around. Where as outside the cave, you’ll find a number of souvenir stalls where you can pick up small trinkets and accessories. It is here where you can also pick up some local snake liquor which is an Okinawa delicacy.
Because you are near the ocean, one of the best things you can do is to go whale watching.
The best times to visit Okinawa to see whales are around the January to March season as the area is known to have humpback whales swim around as they migrate to Japan from Alaska.
Explore Around Kume
Kume Island is another island where you can get some amazing views and scenery of an untouched rural area. The island itself is a national park and is filled with many things for you to do. Whether that is to enjoy the beautiful beaches or go swimming and diving. This island is a vacationers dream. However one thing that sets it apart from the other islands is that often times people will come here to bird watch. Mainly because there are a huge amount of local species that live and hide throughout this island.
Eat Soba Noodles At Yaeyama Islands
As we mentioned earlier, Okinawa is home to many unique cuisines that you are unlikely to find anywhere else in Japan. However one cuisine in particular that you need to try is located on Yaeyama Island. Here you can find the Yaeyama soba noodles which are very different from traditional Japanese soba noodles and are made out of white wheat. They are often cooked in a pork broth and topped with pork and other ingredients.
Shop At Makishi Market
Makishi Market is a place that has the nickname of “The Kitchen of Okinawa”. Just the name itself will probably tell you everything you need to know about this place. The market dates all the way back to World War II and is packed full of all kinds of different shops. These shops sell an array of items including many Okinawa favorites as well as many traditional items as well. And it’s not just shops over here, as you can find many restaurants and cafes that will sell traditional Okinawan dishes that you’ll probably never see in any other parts of Japan.
Explore Taketomi And It’s Villages
If you want to see a place that hasn’t been changed in ages, you might want to travel to Taketomi Island. It is one of the smaller islands located in Okinawa and will usually take you only a few hours to travel through the entire island. Inside this island, you will be able to find many small traditional villages that will give you a first hand look at how the people here live as well as worked all throughout Japans history. Heck, you can even ride on a cart being pulled by a buffalo! How cool is that!
Stroll Through Akajima Island
If you are looking for a place to take some fantastic pictures of the area, then head over to Akajima island or Aka for short. This place is not too big but is known for it’s amazing picture perfect views. And just like the other islands in Okinawa, you can also swim around, go diving, or even hike around through the island.
Check Out Nago
Nago is a city located on the main island. It is known for its beautiful beach resorts along Nago Bay. It also features many other things that you can do. For instance, it has an underwater observatory as well as a pineapple park where you can tour through pineapple fields. There is also an aquarium located here that is known to have a tank that measures over 7,000 cubic meters. Overall a fun little stop that has some neat attractions anyone will love.
One of the main reasons why a lot of people come visit Okinawa is that you can dive around here. You are able to see all kinds of different marine life swimming around you. Not only that, but you can also see the sharks that are swimming around. You can either swim out from the shore to spot some of these sharks or you can simply take a boat tour where they’ll take you shark watching.
Learn Some History At Itoman
Itoman is a place full of history. It is in this area where you can find the Okinawa Peace Park which commemorates the Battle of Okinawa. The park is made up of many areas which includes a memorial that has the engravings of the names of the people who died here during the battle. Not only that, but you can also check out the Museum which will give you some information about the history of the battle. So if you love history, then you’ll absolutely love this place.
Ocean Walk On Nagannu
Nagannu Island is known for it’s soft sandy beaches. It is an island fit for relaxation. This is also the island you will want to come to if you want to do some ocean walking. If you don’t know what ocean walking is, it literally means ocean walking. As in you are walking down into the ocean. You’ll wear a helmet as well as strapping down to some weights, then you just walk along the ocean floor. You will be astonished by all the colorful marine life you’ll see swimming around you as you roam around the ocean floor.
Swim At Ishigaki
This is yet another place where you can swim around and dive into the ocean. I know, there is quite a bunch of them around Okinawa. However it is here where you can swim and dive around Manta Rays. Sounds pretty cool right? Just head on down to the area Manta Scramble, and you’ll be able to dive, swim, snorkel or whatever you prefer through the waters being next to these exotic animals.
Visit The Museum On Yonaguni
Yonaguni has one of the few museums you’ll be able to find on the Okinawa Islands. This museum in particular is called the Ethnographic Museum which features many artifacts and memorabilia of the history and culture of Yonaguni. You can also learn about the unique language and writing system that the Okinawans use as well as many other historical information relating to this area.
Sight See Through Miyako-jima
Miyako-jima is another place that also has beautiful beaches. In fact, it is said that Miyako-jima is one of the prettiest islands in all of Okinawa. It makes for a perfect place if you want to stroll around and see what the island has to offer. And just like the other islands, you can also go swimming, snorkeling, and also diving as well.
Stroll Through The Nightlife at Naha
Because Naha is the capital of Okinawa, you can be sure to find some awesome nightlife here as many of the other islands can be quite dull in the evenings. It is here where you can find many people wondering around, playing folk music, bars, restaurants, etc. Obviously not as great as the main cities in Japan but still a place filled with vibrant culture and activity.
As you can see, Okinawa is made up of mainly islands. Which means that many of them have the same features. Things like swimming, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, can be done all throughout Okinawa.
However even though many of the islands have the same features, there are still quite a few places where culture and old traditions take the reigns.
It is a perfect place for anyone to learn about the rich history and culture of Japan.
Also, if you are planning to visit Japan anytime soon, you might be interested in some of my other Japan posts.
- Tokyo – 20 Things To Do In Tokyo
- Osaka – 18 Amazing Things To Do In Osaka
- Kyoto – 14 Awesome Things To Do In Kyoto
- Japan – 20 Amazing Foods You Have To Try In Japan
Or you can check out my complete list of things to do in Japan by clicking here.
Let me know how your trip goes!