If you want to enjoy the beautiful seaside view in Japan, the best recommended area is Okinawa. Okinawa is located in the south of Kyushu. It consists of diverse islands in the vast waters of 400 km north-south and 1,000 km east to west. There are coral reefs, crystal clear blue ocean, white sand beach, and beautiful natural scenery. Unique Ryukyu culture is also attractive. On this page, I will introduce the most recommended tourist spots in Okinawa.
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Outline of Okinawa
Okinawa prefecture is broadly divided into three island groups, the Okinawa Islands around Okinawa main island, the Miyako Islands around Miyakojima Island, and the Yaeyama islands around Ishigakijima Island.
So, when traveling in Okinawa, you should decide your itinerary, whether you will stay in Okinawa main island, enjoy both Okinawa main island and another remote island, or stay on a remote island.
The total population of Okinawa is approximately 1.45 million people, of which about 90% live in the Okinawa main island. The Okinawa main island is about 470 km around, and has developed since the long ago mainly in the south. The prefectural capital is located in Naha City, south of this Island. In the northern part of this island, you will find wild nature.
So, if you intend to stay in the Okinawa main island, you should decide your itinerary, whether to stay in the south or stay in a resort in the northern / central area.
I introduced the most beautiful beaches in Okinawa in the following article. If you like, please also refer to the following article.
The main airport in Okinawa is Naha Airport in the southern part of the Okinawa main island. At this airport, scheduled flights are operated with the following airports.
Seoul / Incheon
Taipei / Taoyuan
Shanghai / Pudong
Bangkok / Suvarnabhumi
Domestic flights (Outside Okinawa)
Hokkaido · Tohoku region
Sapporo / New Chitose, Sendai
Tokyo / Haneda, Tokyo / Narita, Ibaraki
Nagoya / Chubu, Shizuoka, Niigata, Komatsu
Osaka / Itami, Osaka / Kansai, Osaka / Kobe
China · Shikoku Region
Okayama, Hiroshima, Iwakuni, Takamatsu, Matsuyama
Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, Amami, Tokunoshima, Okinoerabu, argument
Domestic flights (Okinawa)
Kumejima, Kita-Daito, Minami-Daito, Miyako, Ishigaki, Yonaguni
In Okinawa, ferries are operated around Okinawa main island, Miyakojima Island, and Ishigakijima Island. There are many regular sea route between these three islands and each remote island. Some high-speed ships are also in operation.
Ferries are also being operated between Okinawa main island and Kagoshima on the southern tip of Kyushu.
Climate and Weather in Okinawa
Okinawa main island has subtropical climate, Miyakojima and Ishigakijima is tropical climate.
Okinawa Prefecture is hot and rainy everywhere, and annual rainfall exceeds 2000 mm. The annual average temperature is about 22 ° C. However, unlike Tokyo and Kyoto, the maximum temperature rarely exceeds 35 degrees. This is because Okinawa is surrounded by the sea and the heat island phenomenon is unlikely to occur.
In Okinawa, there is a rainy season from the beginning of May until around the middle of June. After that, typhoons often pass through until about October. As typhoon approaches, Okinawa airplanes and ships will be forced to cancel. If you go to Okinawa at such time, you will have to stay overnight at the hotel. Summer Okinawa is very wonderful, but there is always a risk of typhoon damage. So, please try to hear the latest weather forecast.
Okinawa Main Island
The Okinawa main island is about 1500 km southwest of Tokyo. It is located about 650 km south of Kagoshima at the southernmost tip of Kyushu. There is a ferry service between Okinawa main island and Kagoshima. It takes one day one way.
Because Okinawa main island is so south, the lowest temperature is about 14 degrees Celsius even in the coldest February.
There was a kingdom called “Ryukyu” in Okinawa. This dynasty prospered with trade with Japan mainland and China. The royal castle “Shuri Castle” was in the southern part of the Okinawa main island. If you go to Okinawa main island, you can see the buildings and culture of this dynasty era.
In Naha city, a monorail runs between Naha Airport and the city area. But, there is no train in Okinawa Prefecture besides this monorail. So when you are going to sightsee for Okinawa, you need to use a bus, car rental etc.
On the Okinawa main island, development of the coast is advanced considerably compared with Miyakojima and Ishigakijima, but you can meet the surprisingly beautiful ocean if you leave the southern city part. If you go to such a beach by using a bus or rent-a-car, there must be a lot of photos that you can post on the Instagram!
Kokusaidori Street is the main street of about 1.6 km in the center of Naha city. Here are souvenir shops, Okinawa original sundries shops, Okinawan cuisines restaurants, and so on. These shops are open until late at night. If you take a walk through this street, you will feel the culture of Okinawa.
To Kokusaidori Street, take a monorail from Naha Airport and get off at Kenchomae Station (Prefectural Office Station).
Go to the middle of Kokusaidori Street, you can enter the arcaded shopping area “Ichiba-hondori”. If you go there all the way, there is a market named “Makishi Public Market”. This old market is recommended. You will find cheap and tasty foods in Okinawa here. There is also a dining room.
There is the Shuri Castle on the hill overlooking Naha city area. It is a 15-minute walk from Shuri station of the monorail.
Shuri Catsle was the king castle of the Kingdom of Ryukyu which lasted 450 years until the late nineteenth century. Based on this castle, Ryukyu has traded with the mainland Japan, China, and Southeast Asian countries.
This castle was completely destroyed in World War II in 1945, but it was restored in 1992. And it was registered as a World Heritage site in 2000.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is one of the most popular aquariums in Japan. And it is also one of Okinawa’s most highly appreciated attractions.
This aquarium has a huge tank called “Kuroshio Sea”. It is 35 meters long, 27 meters wide, 10 meters deep. In this tank, the whale sharks about 9 meters in length are swimming. In addition, huge mantas are also swimming slowly.
Besides this, there are also tanks that can observe real coral reefs and tanks where you can see the fish living on the seabed at a water depth of 200 – 700 meters.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is located along the northwest coast of Okinawa Main Island. It is about 3 hours by express bus from Naha Airport. It is about 2 hours if you rent a car.
Okinawa has many rainy days, but in this aquarium, you can enjoy it without problems even on rainy days. From that point on, this aquarium is recommended.
If you use car rental, you would like to run on a scenic road on the Okinawa Main Island. In such a case, I recommend that you drive “Kaichu-doro Causeway” located on the east coast of the main island of Okinawa.
The Kaichu-doro Causeway is a road of about 4.7 km connecting the Okinawa Main Island and nearby remote islands. The Kaichu-doro Causeway is not a bridge. This road is built by laying banks in shallows. There are other roads built in the same way, but the Kaichu-doro Causeway is the longest in the East.
If you drive on the Kaichu-doro Causeway, you will feel like running over the sea. It is a beautiful emerald blue sea that can be seen around. In the evening, the bridge leading to the Kaichu-doro Causeway light up, so you can run in a fantastic space. In the middle of the Kaichu-doro Causeway, there is a break spot. You can buy souvenirs there and eat at a restaurant.
Kaichu-doro Causeway is about 40 kilometers away from Naha Airport. If you use car rental, it is about 1 hour by using toll road.
Miyakojima Island is located about 290 km southwest of Okinawa main island. The island is warm throughout the year, the surrounding seas are surprisingly transparent. This island is a sanctuary for diving and snorkeling.
If you want to enjoy swimming and snorkeling, it is best to go from July to September. If you do not swim in the sea, I recommend April and November when the climate is stable and the hotel accommodation fee and air fare are relatively cheap.
The beaches I would like to recommend at Miyakojima Island are Yonaha Maehama beach and Sunayama Beach. I wrote about these two beaches in the following article on Japanese beaches. Please drop by if you do not mind.
If you want to enjoy snorkelling in earnest, go to Yoshinokaigan Beach on the east side of Miyakojima Island. Located 35 minutes by car from Miyako Airport, this beach has lots of coral reefs nearby. There are cute tropical fish by the coral.
If you want to enjoy snorkelling in earnest, go to Yoshinokaigan Beach on the east side of Miyakojima Island. Located 35 minutes by car from Miyakojima Airport, this beach has lots of coral reefs nearby. There are cute tropical fish by the coral.
Miyako airport has scheduled flights to and from the following cities.
Tokyo / Haneda
Nagoya / Chubu
Osaka / Kansai
Fukuoka (summer only)
Ishigakijima Island is a resort island which has become very popular worldwide recently. It is about 400 km southwest of Okinawa Main Island. The distance with Taiwan is only 270 kilometers, so regular flights are operated with Taiwan. Furthermore, there are regular flights with Hong Kong. Direct flights are also being operated from Tokyo and Osaka and others.
Ishigakijima Island is 160 kilometers around, and you can see so many coral reefs in the surrounding seas. Like the Miyakojima Island, this island is also known as a sanctuary for diving and snorkeling. There are more than 70 diving shops in Ishigakijima Island.
The most popular sightseeing spot on Ishigakijima is Kabira Bay (Kabirawan) seen in the photo above. This bay on the north side of the island is surprisingly beautiful with high transparency.
However, swimming is impossible for Kabira Bay because the ocean current is very fast. Here, a glass boat whose boat’s bottom is transparent is operating, so I recommend you to take a ride on this boat. This bay is also known for its wonderful sunset. Please see the stunning view of orange.
Furthermore, the place I want to recommend to you at Ishigakijima is Taketomijima Island nearby.
Taketomijima Island, located 10 minutes by ferry, has an amazing beach named Kondoi Beach. This beach is a very quiet and pure place. Taketomijima Island is also a very beautiful island where traditional houses are left.
I wrote about Kondoi Beach and Taketomijima Island in the following article, so please drop in if you do not mind.
Ishigaki Airport (official name is Shin Ishigaki Airport) has scheduled flights to and from the following cities.
Taipei / Taoyuan
Tokyo / Haneda
Tokyo / Narita
Nagoya / Chubu
Osaka / Kansai
Thank you for reading to the end.